Photography: Peter Larson
In an age where mass production and cheap prices make companies like IKEA and Wal-Mart leaders in furniture sales, two guys from Fairview Park are proving the opposite philosophy tends to work just as well—it’s all in your perspective.
Scott Larson and Carl Ziek are cousins and best friends, so it only made sense that they would become business partners. Shred & Co. is just the two of them, creating furniture from the pencil-and-paper stage of vision and design to the last bolt of installation, every bit by hand using carpentry skills that are not as prevalent these days.
“We specialize in anything,” says Larson. “Small to large projects requiring custom and one-off fabrication using metals, hardwoods, glass, concrete, and anything else that we can incorporate. We try and take on some of the more challenging jobs that usually require some serious planning and detailed measurements, as well as having the freedom to create a one-off space that suits our customers’ functionality.”
Larson was working for a construction company doing high-end remodeling and Ziek worked part-time jobs while going to school when they decided to go into business for themselves in 2015. Both are content to continue working piece-by-piece without the restrictions of working for layers of management and disconnected customers, which frees them to they enjoy their lives by traveling, skateboarding, and riding motorcycles.
One of the more interesting and creative pieces to come out of Shred & Co.’s shop is a pottery wheel with open shelving embedded into an attached work table. “It brings the handmade and modern design together in a unique fashion. The potter’s wheel is actually a functioning mechanical aspect of this piece but remains more as a prop. The abstract open shelving unit was a huge challenge to create. We used cold rolled steel to finish the face frame and walnut plywood as the wood element. The table top was created with 150-year-old wormy chestnut from a house we demolished, as well as the same age poplar we used for the legs and foot kick,” says Larson.
“This piece was special to us because it is something unusual and you will most likely never see anyone building a display like this. The materials are all from a house we owned that was built in the 1800s, so this was really a nice revitalization of old material and new.”
Larson and Ziek never make the same pieces twice, and never have the same work experiences. They recall a job in Virginia where they befriended a janitor who didn’t survive the day.
“The janitor in the building had a heart attack and died that day [we met him],” says Ziek. “We were told that his wife had told doctors he had eaten a pound of bacon before he came to work that morning. It was the nicest, shortest friendship we ever had.” Larson’s band, Corduroy Season, named their album “Cantankerous Roy” after the ol’ gent.
Those still among the living who have worked with Larson and Ziek are their best marketing tool. Business leads are generated simply by word of mouth from their satisfied customers, people who appreciate quality over quantity and wouldn’t step foot in an IKEA. One of Shred & Co.’s core beliefs is that there is no substitute for human precision and creativity in building. It’s allowed them to become as successful as they want with the bonus of having done it on their own terms.