Tod Detro’s first job was building cabinetry at O’Neill’s Surf Shop in Santa Cruz. In 1978 he decided to start his own business, Knotty Hole Woodworks. Today he owns a high-end custom cabinetry business in East Palo Alto with 25 employees.
Many of his employees have been with the company over 25 years. When he was forced to institute 20% pay cuts across the board during the recession, everyone stayed. Knotty Hole Woodworks employees not only enjoy a good benefits package, a flexible schedule, a dog-friendly workplace, and retirement options, but they also take pride in the intricate and unique work that they do every day.
Tod and his team supply directly to home owners as well as through contractors. They have chosen to focus on the building of the cabinetry, working with a network of trusted partners for the finishing and installation. They don’t need to market as they get all referrals through word of mouth. Some customers like the work they’ve done for their primary residences so much that they use them every time they move or ask them to do work for their vacation homes, which has extended their footprint from Silicon Valley to as far as Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, San Diego and Carmel.
Knotty Hole Woodworks got a 7(a) loan from Comerica, and a 504 Certified Development Company loan with Capital Access Group. They used the 7(a) loan for working capital and the 504 loan to purchase a bigger space: 33,000 square feet.
The work floor is remarkably clean of sawdust for a huge room full of wood and saws. Knotty Hole Woodworks uses computers to maximize the surface area of the wood they use, thus minimizing waste.
Knotty Hole Woodworks leases their old space, also in East Palo Alto, to College Track, who provides tutoring to low-income kids who want to go to 4 year colleges.