Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Nikolay Draivuk stands in his wood shop with a custom mantle.
• Name: Wood Craftsmen
• Location: 2420 Varnell Road, Cleveland, Tenn.
• Website: customwoodcraftsmen.com
• Products/services: Nikolay Dralyuk, an immigrant from Moldova in the former Soviet Union, learned to build cabinets using only hand tools, before moving to the Chattanooga area five years ago. He expanded his business to include the design, construction and installation of all custom woodwork ranging from kitchen cabinets and mantels to bars and other wall installations. "This guy is capable of really amazing stuff; he's probably the most talented guy I have ever met," said fellow woodworker Bryan Vaughn.
• Experience: Dralyuk has been working with wood for the last 35 years.
• Startup investment: $30,000
• Annual sales: $60,000
• Target market: Homeowners who are looking for custom wood products to "bring character to the interior of their living space" are his main customers, Dralyuk said. Because of the economic downturn, many consumers have decided to renovate their houses instead of moving into a new home, giving him a sizable market to work with.
• Biggest hurdle: The biggest hurdle has been connecting directly with customers, he said. Dralyuk is still working on his English, so family and friends assist him with some communication.
• Biggest reward: "Hearing an astonished 'wow' from a client upon seeing their vision become a reality" is the biggest reward, he said.
• Challenges: He would like to expand operations to encompass wood repair, restoration and refinishing in the future, but finding good help in the field is difficult.
• Lesson learned: There are many techniques at the disposal of "a crafter," he said, enabling an almost limitless number of distinctive designs for customers in search of a unique product.
• Five-year goal: Dralyuk would like to have a showroom with restored antique pieces on display and to be known as a reputable businessman.
Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...