You may not be aware of the creations of Shoreline Custom Woodworks, yet you may very well have placed your beer down on one of their bar tops, eaten a favorite entrée from a tabletop or maybe even passed a bid proposal across a custom-made conference table.
From a 30,000-square-foot warehouse next door to Wayne’s Candy Co. in Downtown Memphis, Shoreline Custom Woodworks owner Jason Ramirez and his team are churning out custom furniture, cabinets, molding, wood flooring and signage of birch, walnut, maple, cypress and exotic woods at an impressive rate.
Shoreline Custom Woodworks churns out custom furniture, cabinets, molding, wood flooring and signage of numerous woods around town.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
Ramirez, 36, learned his trade from a family friend growing up in California. The friend’s business was called Shoreline Construction and, though there is no affiliation, Ramirez wanted to show his appreciation for his mentor.
“I started out real young and worked with him through high school,” Ramirez said.
In 1997, after a stint in the Army, Ramirez moved to Memphis, where his parents had relocated for work. He met his future wife, decided to stay and joined the Memphis Fire Department, where he still works with Engine 48. He began Shoreline in a 3,000-square-foot space off Pleasant View Road in 2008. It was a shop just large enough to handle the smaller jobs of a side business.
When he met Mark Beck, the foreman who runs the shop with him, Ramirez said, “we decided we wanted to take it to another caliber.”
An investment was made in more machinery such as a 5-by-10-foot CNC router, which allows Ramirez to create a design on the computers in his office and have it realized on the production floor.
A large-scale sander called, aptly, a “timesaver” can handle a piece of wood width and length of a conference table in one pass. Last February he moved these elements Downtown into a century-old building leased from Woodland Tree Service.
Josh Ramirez (right) and Mark Beck of Shoreline Custom Woodworks.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
Shoreline began by servicing mainly residential customers but has grown handily into the commercial side. Much of the success has been had through word-of-mouth networking and Ramirez aligning himself with the right people – restaurateur Taylor Berger, builders such as Eddie Kircher and John Caviness, and through his brother Isaac Ramirez, chef at Interim Restaurant.
“We started doing a lot of restaurants and then I got tied in with a lot of big builders here in Memphis,” Jason Ramirez said. “I had a buddy of mine do a website and we did a little Facebook thing, and one thing grew into another and I’ve just been getting flooded with calls ever since.”
Shoreline’s work will soon be seen at the new Beale Street Landing as Ramirez and his team work to fashion custom handrails. In the gleaming concrete and wood interior of the Wiseacre Brewing’s taproom on Broad Avenue, examples can be seen in the massive garage bay doors made of pressed wheat and in the glasses holders behind the bar.
Shoreline worked with the new Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza in East Memphis as well. “They’re growing and they’re going to open up a few more restaurants and we’re going to do those for them,” Ramirez said.
The company more than weathered the storm, growing over time, and now has six employees and customers that reach across the country and, soon, around the world. Through branding firm Harvest Creative, Ramirez was introduced to the shoe-selling giant TOMS and there are plans to create custom displays from reclaimed wood for its global retailers.
Jobs can come from the unlikeliest of places. Ramirez said that a growing number of clients are coming from the curatorial website Pinterest with a piece of furniture or cabinetry and, instead of purchasing it for thousands, he builds it for a fraction of the cost.
And there’s the sentimental angle, too, with those who bring in wood that was part of a family home or heirloom for him to fashion into a usable keepsake for future generations. It’s this creativity that Ramirez enjoys about his business, and working with the customers to realize a truly unique and custom piece.
“It’s pretty gratifying just to take something out of nothing, really, and put your art into it,” Ramirez said.
As the economy slid in 2008 and homebuying and homebuilding slowed, Shoreline kept a head above water through this variety of services and products offered.
“A lot of cabinet shops – that’s all they do is just cabinetry,” Ramirez said. “I like a challenge, and if there’s woodwork involved, I’ll tackle the job. It keeps the mind going, keeps me thinking, it’s fun.”