Woodworker finds his niche in a busy field

Jordan Parker's 'Grafted' business is a lesson in the importance of focus

Photo by J.D. Booth/Lambton Shield

When entrepreneurs begin talking about how their story has unfolded, it’s not uncommon for the challenge that comes with finding a focus for the business to be a key element.

And so it is for Jordan Parker, a finish carpenter who has been working full-time in the trade since graduating from St. Clair Secondary School in 2005.

“I’ve always been a woodworker,” he says, offering a genetic nod to his maternal grandfather, who owned a sawmill near Owen Sound.

But Parker says choosing carpentry was also a way for him to satisfy an early craving for mentorship.

“It was something I was always longing for,” he notes. “And a lot of the people I looked to for that were either in carpentry or some other mechanical-type field.”

One significant step in his journey was working on trimming during construction of the Mariner Village condo project on Venetian Boulevard in Point Edward.

“Working with another guy, we probably trimmed at least half of the units there,” he notes.

But it was also during that project that a conversation with a colleague became a pivotal moment for Parker.

“A friend of his had scoped out a business in Calgary but then backed out when he realized he wasn’t going to uproot his family,” said Parker. “He wanted to know if I was interested.”

“For the longest time, we were all things to all people,” he says. “Today it’s about understanding what we’re best at providing and setting aside work that just isn’t key for us.”

Jumping on the opportunity, Parker loaded up his van and headed west.

That was September 2006, a month after he had met Laurie, now his wife.

“We kept in touch over the phone and she came out once to visit,” Parker recalls. “I came home at Christmas and by May of the next year, she had joined me.”

They married in 2008—August 23—and today have three kids, two girls and a boy.

But those early days became difficult ones from a business standpoint, eventually turning off a flow of projects so abruptly that it forced the Parkers to return to Sarnia in 2011 for a regrouping of sorts.

Unfortunately, he says, the financial recovery took some time, a period that he now sees as the “longest year of my life.”

Today Parker has a team of five, including an in-house designer, site manager and two additional carpenters.

He’s also busy applying lessons learned in maintaining a focus on what projects to go after.

And what ones to decline.

“For the longest time, we were all things to all people,” he says. “Today it’s about understanding what we’re best at providing and setting aside work that just isn’t key for us.”

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