By Jim Elias
During a tour of the showroom at Pearl City Wood Products, founder and entrepreneur Jeff Sorensen makes it clear the success of his company is driven by the passion and creativity of those who work for him.
“This business is all about people and finding the right talent,” says Sorensen.
Working in his architectural millwork and wood fabrication shop is not a typical nine-to-five corporate job. Sorensen says it’s hard work. It’s manufacturing. At times, it’s fast-paced production just like one would experience in any large factory.
“But, there’s a place for creatives if they have a willingness to work. My people choose to do this because of their passion,” Sorensen adds. “Most of my members have college degrees, but they choose to do this work instead of working a desk job.”
Around the showroom floor, Sorensen points out multiple furniture and accessory pieces his staff has designed and created. Some pieces are made from scrap wood from larger custom jobs in the shop. Others are designed with certain utility in mind. For example, there’s a modular, convertible child’s chair one of his team members created for families with space limitations. And, there’s a salt & pepper shaker/napkin holder set, hand-turned wooden candle holders, and the wooden pieces made to build a replica of Peter-Mar wooden farm implement toys once manufactured in Muscatine. There are specially designed and crafted wooden furniture pieces, wooden table tops with inlays, and crafted wooden wall panels designed from what would otherwise be unusable lumber.
“If it’s not wood,” says Sorensen, “we don’t do it.”
Pearl City Wood Products, which he founded in 2006, manufactures custom and semi-custom wood cabinetry, furniture, and millwork (doors, trim, window sashes) for new homes, remodeling projects, and commercial applications. Sorensen said he founded his company on the principle that custom wood products can be affordable.
“We cover the whole gamut from design to manufacturing,” he says. “It’s our knowledge, creativity, and experience that allow our team to handle it all and be competitive, even with the big box stores.”
Although Sorensen spent thirty years working in the corporate world managing hundreds of people and multi-million-dollar budgets, he says he learned how to be a real manager and leader on the ground, running a business. He speaks with great respect and fondness of two mentors he had while working for Bandag and HNI Corp. What he gleaned from their experience, by working alongside them, he says was far more valuable than what he learned about management while earning his MBA.
When asked what drives him, he smiles and said, “I work. That’s what I do. I’m sort of a busy-body … always finding something to do.”
By spending time with Jeff Sorensen, one quickly understands he doesn’t just work to work. He is passionate about doing good work that he and his team enjoy. He says people want to do business with people they know are passionate about what they do.
“People … family, friends, customers and contractors … have been good to us,” says Sorensen. He and his team deliver quality, custom wood products with a passion and their customers respond.