Woodwork craftsman Matt Sarre’s eyes shine when he talks about the bespoke fine furniture he creates for MS Wood customers.
“One of the things I really love about what I do is taking a pile of wood and turning it into something beautiful that will be enjoyed for a generation, or several generations,” Matt says.
“Working with my hands is intrinsically satisfying. It’s wonderful to step back at the end of the day and say, ‘I made that’.”
Woodwork has been a decades-long hobby for Matt, one that he says became more of an addiction.
“I regularly made small projects at home, like picture frames, cutting boards and side tables. I enjoyed it so much and found I wanted to make more and more,” Matt says.
In 2017, Matt made the decision to quit his job in community engagement at a not-for-profit organisation and become a full-time craftsman, founding MS Wood in the double garage of the Sarre family home in Happy Valley. Word of mouth about Matt’s workmanship soon created demand for larger pieces such as dining tables. In November 2018, Matt moved the business to its studio workshop in Hackham.
MS Wood works mostly with solid Australian timbers, including a lot of recycled wood that is sourced and supplied locally. In a market flooded with lesser quality materials made overseas in big factories, MS Wood caters to a niche of people who want something different.
Most people come to MS Wood for a couple of reasons, Matt explains.
“Our customers want something special,” he says. “A homeowner can buy a dining table, for example, at any number of places, but they all look much the same. Our customers want something custom-made that stands out from the crowd.
“We also help our customers fulfil a particular need by creating a piece that they can’t get elsewhere. It might be a television cabinet that needs to fit a particular space, or a dining table to fit a long thin dining room. We can make a piece to fit the dimensions,” Matt says.
Matt’s son, Micah, will finish his secondary schooling at the end of this year. While completing his Vocational Education and Training curriculum at the workshop, Micah has become a key part of the business.
“I started working with Dad when I was about 13 years old, doing little jobs like sanding,” Micah says. “I was originally interested in a career in carpentry and building first fix frames on new homes. But, while working alongside Dad in the workshop, I’ve discovered I also have a talent for building fine furniture. Now, I’m starting to take on bigger projects by myself.”
Matt and Micah work in partnership with their clients, keeping them updated on each step of the building process.
“For most of our clients, the furniture is part of a story,” Matt says. “We recently made a blue gum outdoor dining table using a tree that was felled out of necessity on the farm of our customer’s parents, the farm that he grew up on. Our customer now has something that reminds him of what the tree looked like when he was a kid.”
MS Wood appeared in the official Go South Go Local campaign video along with other ON Business Program partners. An ON small business grant recently helped Matt to purchase a wide belt sander, which he says has been a “game changer”.
“We can sand whole tabletops much quicker and easier than when we were doing it by hand. As a result, the quality of our work has improved and the time spent on projects has decreased. As our business grows, the sander will help us to manage more of the larger projects,” Matt says.
Attending ON Business Program workshops has supported Matt to develop his business. “The network associated with the program has given me and, soon, Micah the chance to shake hands—or bump elbows—with other small business owners who might be doing very different things, but we get the chance to talk about what we do and share experiences.”
As MS Wood grows, Matt wants to remain a relatively boutique business.
“Working one-on-one with our customers is important. We take pride in making a smaller number of beautiful pieces,” he says.
To find out more about the ON Business Partner Program visit onbusinesspartnerprogram.com
The City of Onkaparinga’s Go South Go Local campaign is supporting the local business community by helping businesses to recover from COVID-19 and prosper in the long-term.
Businesses can get involved by visiting the Go South Go Local webpage at onbusinesspartnerprogram.com/go-south-go-local and downloading the digital assets. Use the hashtag #GoSouthGoLocal on your social media posts and encourage others to do the same.
Contact council’s ON Business team to receive an information pack and in-store displays, and list your business on council’s free online business directory on the ON Business website.
The community can support the campaign by looking local first for producers, suppliers and makers of everything you need. Refer to the ON Business directory to see who’s nearby. You can also leave a review for your favourite local businesses and like, share and comment on businesses’ social media posts.