By Elizabeth Richards
When Ryan Cathcart and Reece Teixeira of Raymond found themselves with time on their hands towards the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, they put it to good use. What started as a potential “side hustle” has become Orion Woodshop, a thriving new enterprise based in Raymond.
Cathcart and Teixeira, who are both 27, met at Keene State College. After graduating in 2015, they went in different directions, but reconnected when Cathcart moved from Colorado to Portland last year. They began working together recreationally in Teixeira’s woodshop and discovered that their professional goals, process driven approach and work styles were compatible, according to their website. They began having conversations about the possibility of forming a business.
|College friends Reece Teixeira, left, and Ryan|
Cathcart, both of Raymond, created Orion
Woodshop during the pandemic this spring.
Both intended to return to their previous employment originally, but the business began to gain traction, Teixeira said, “and then we never went back.”
Cathcart said that when they decided to make the business official, they put together a collection of work, started social media accounts, and announced their intent on their personal accounts.
“Pretty quickly, we had a significant amount of work come in,” he said.
In fact, within a few days they had enough work booked to keep them busy full time for two-and-a-half to three weeks.
About a month later, each gave notice to their previous employment on the same day, though they had not intentionally planned to do so. That same day, they received a call from Steve Minich at WMTW Channel 8 News, who wanted to do a feature about their business and a fundraiser they were running.
Their two-year plan, Teixeira said, is to have a shop/warehouse out of their house, hire some employees, and grow from there.
Their work is focused in three distinct areas: contracting, handmade products and custom furniture.
“We’ve split up our target growth into three departments and what we want those to look like down the road,” Cathcart said.
Their website, www.orionofmaine.com, highlights everything they do, Cathcart said.
Their handmade products include turned products, cutting boards, bookmarks and cornhole games. Premade products are often sold through their Etsy store.
Custom furniture inquiries come through their website, where people can also see their predesigned furniture options. Teixeira said most of their furniture is customized in some way, often based off those designs.
“Sometimes it’s completely different and sometimes they’ll just tweak it slightly.,” he said.
One thing that makes Orion different than many furniture companies, Teixeira said, is that they will make furniture designed for a specific purpose after consultation with a client. For example, they designed custom boot benches for a ski shop, he said.
Another custom project was a table designed as an espresso bar. Designing furniture to fit a specific need is something they hope to find a niche market in, Teixeira said.
Another important aspect of the business is their commitment to giving back to the community. The charity page on their website says, “We take pride in being founded here in Maine and are committed to being a strong community partner.”
Their charitable efforts began by donating $1,750 made by selling custom bookmarks to the Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative. They also are looking to continue doing charitable donations moving forward, Cathcart said.
“If anyone has any ideas that they think would be a good collaboration we’d be happy to hear them out and work with them,” he said. <