Artisan door maker, Gary Grund, has been perfecting his art and craftsmanship as a carpenter for over 35 years in the small ski town of Bend, Oregon. He began with a small Shopsmith in a shed in the backyard and has slowly perfected his craft from his humble beginnings making his children's beds to custom kitchen cabinets and what he now specializes in, entire front entry doors on some pretty impressive homes.
"I started working with wood back when I was young with my Dad in his garage. I think my Dad started building things because I am from a family of 6 and my parents didn't have enough money to buy furniture, so he would just build the things we needed," explained Gary when we sat down for a chat this last weekend. "I then took a shop class in high school and loved to be in there building things".
Gary and his wife Suzanne moved to Bend in 1979 where they built a large blue preschool and kindergarten called Bright Beginnings on 27th Street. Gary put up a small metal shed in the back and bought a Shopsmith and a handful of tools. Being the on-site handyman, he would also build everything from bookshelves, tables, and cabinets for the school and home. Parents saw his handy-work and side orders began coming in for kids beds, desks, and trunks for quilts.
As Bend's population grew and building boomed, Gary became Heritage Woodworks and honed in his craft in cabinet making and took on remodels and new construction homes strictly by word of mouth. As the business and demand grew, he hired an apprentice, but refused to hire more people for he believed in the custom craftsmanship of his own work and didn't want to see that change, even if he had to take on fewer jobs. "Bend is a small town and it's important to build a reputation with solid craftsmanship and a good relationship with the customer. I am able to go into someone's home and draw plans for what they dream their space to look like and then help make that happen. It's pretty rewarding to look back after the work is finished with the clients and see how happy they are."
After about 15 years of mainly cabinet making, Gary realized that the detail and storage space necessary for cabinets was straining his modest shop space and transitioned into specializing in front entryway doors, sidelights, transoms, and interior doors. Stacking doors took up a lot less space than cabinets, while freeing up more of his time for creativity in making each door a masterpiece and less time trying to make cabinets fit into set spaces. Bear Creek Doors was born.
As Gary's reputation has spread through the years amongst well known Bend builders, and friends telling friends about him, his doors has been in high demand. Homes all over Central Oregon and stretching as far south as the Bay Area and Southern California, have been transformed by Gary's elaborate entryways, wine cellar doors, gates, garage doors, and an array of other fine artisan crafts. When potential clients would come to see Gary about a door, they would drive out to his shop on the ranch, passing the orchard trees, ponds, waterfalls, stained glass, barn and be taken into a world Gary had planted or built himself. He sat them down as friends and took the time to explain how their door would be built. He sent pictures as the door came to life and welcomed them to pop in and see the progress. People came to have Bear Creek Doors build their door because it wasn't just picked out from a sea of doors, it was created and the client was part of the creation.
After over 35 years of building and designing, Gary is ready to retire. Although he hangs his Bear Creek Doors hat, his creativity will go on in the never ending projects he constructs on their ranch out Bear Creek Rd. And if you are a Bendite or just passing through Bend, you are sure to see his work in places such as Crux Brewery, if you see the wooden Deschutes Brewery "Woody" Barrel drive by, or on a number of fine friend's homes you may visit. If you open the door and look on the door between the hinges, where the door meets the jam, you just might see the Bear Creek Doors bear stamped into the wood.
K.G. & Ville
In Huanaco, Peru. Battered, but still going south.
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