Over the past few decades, the United States has suffered a steep decline in skilled workers. While there is not one singular explanation for this trend, the tendency for high schools to steer their students toward four-year colleges and universities instead of also providing information about trades and skilled labor is undoubtedly a contributing factor. Our local community is on the front lines of combating downward trend. Conewago Valley School District officially opened the Colonial Career and Technology Center in fall of 2019 with the goal of introducing students to the trades. Students in the program will gain valuable entry-level skills, which can translate into jobs after graduation in our large manufacturing community in New Oxford and in surrounding towns.
Businesses in the trade industry, especially small businesses, are vital to our community. We are excited to share the story of one of those businesses today. For February’s Member Spotlight, we are excited to introduce you to Auchey Woodworks LLC, a locally owned and operated woodworking business based right here in New Oxford.
Growing up, Nevin Auchey took a special interest in woodworking. During his time as a student at New Oxford Middle School & High School, Nevin enjoyed honing his skills in woodworking courses. While Nevin was still in school, his family moved to Florida, where there were less opportunities to woodwork. Despite this challenge, Nevin took advantage of any opportunities he could find.
While in Florida, Nevin found a mentor in George Cain. During his career, George owned a custom woodshop outside of Pittsburgh that specialized in high-end projects, including a project at the Houston Astrodome in Texas. Due to his health, George moved to Florida and transitioned into a lower stress position with a home builder. George and Nevin’s paths crossed around the time Nevin entered 12th grade.
Nevin reflected on his time spent with George, saying “George saw potential in me, and I wanted to learn. The knowledge and training he gave me was priceless [and] it didn’t cost me anything but my time. Because of that, I will always share knowledge and techniques to anyone who seriously wants to learn.”
After graduation, Nevin began a career in the construction industry working his way from framing houses to working on commercial properties. Ultimately, he became a supervisor. About ten years ago, Nevin lost his job in the construction industry due to the downturn in the economy.
With a now or never approach, Nevin decided to fulfill his longtime dream of opening his own business. Nevin officially opened Auchey Woodworks LLC in March of 2011. His business has grown over the past decade largely through word of mouth. Early on, Nevin completed a number of kitchen remodels. While he still works on occasional remodels and renovations, he has found his niche in specialty and custom woodworking. Nevin’s favorite projects to take on are ones he sees as “unusual, different and specialized.”
Recently, Nevin has enjoyed making furniture with concealed compartments, including jewelry boxes and coffee tables. These projects allow Nevin to utilize both his creativity and innovation. Other recent projects include a kitchen island made from black walnut and a custom maple bookshelf. (For more examples and more details on Nevin’s work, see the photo gallery at the top of this article).
In 2017, Nevin’s work was featured in an article in the nationally published magazine A Primitive Place. The article focused on the Peter Ickes House located at 14 E. King St. in Abbottstown. The house, currently owned by Tracy Dodge and Steve Lipman, is an 18th century log and stone Swiss-German home built by Revolutionary War Captain Peter Ickes. It is one of the oldest houses in Abbottstown and is also home to 14 E. King St. Antiques & Designs. Nevin spent over six months building everything from kitchen cabinets to countertops to the ceiling in the family room, keeping with the theme of antiques and primitive furniture. His handiwork can be seen throughout the entire house.
Nevin is not the only one in his family with a knack for woodworking. He has shared his love for the profession with his family members, including his younger sister and his daughter. Nevin’s sister, Lorry Ponticello, currently operates a repurposing business near Cocoa Beach, Florida. Her work can be seen on Instagram (@landmrusticcharm). Additionally, Nevin’s daughter Lindsay recently started woodworking, taking a particular interest in lathe work.
Auchey Woodworks is a proud member of the small business community in New Oxford. Nevin cites the small town, laidback feel as one of the main reasons he chooses to call New Oxford both his home and place of business. While big cities provide opportunities for larger projects and more money, New Oxford has a special atmosphere that “feels like home” to Nevin and his family. Nevin also enjoys connecting with other craftsmen in the local community whether it be at Martin’s New Oxford Hardware or at New Oxford Studios, owned by fellow woodworker Ray Amos.
For Nevin, taking the chance and opening his own business has paid off. He gets to spend every day doing what he loves right here in the town of New Oxford.
We are proud that so many small businesses like Auchey Woodworks call New Oxford home. We encourage you to support local businesses the next time you need assistance with a project.
To see more completed projects from Auchey Woodworks, visit their Instagram page (@aucheywoodworks). If you have a specialized woodworking project in mind, you can contact Nevin directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to the New Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce for additional information. Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook page for our March Member Spotlight!
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