Gail O’Rourke – A Passion for Woodworking, an Eye for BusinessAdd to My Luxx Living
If it wasn’t her chosen profession, it would be her passionate avocation.
It’s the precision, teamwork and pride that drive her work. With a business background, this mother of three might seem out of place on the floor of a cabinet-making shop. So much for stereotypes.
A decade ago, Gail O’Rourke owned her own one-woman company, operating out of an expanded garage in her home. But, as demand for her hand-crafted cabinets increased – despite the recession – she reached a turning point. Either hire carpenters and expand her own business or look for management opportunities with an established, larger company.
Today, she is owner of White Wood Kitchens in Sandwich.
“There have been a lot easier professions I could have taken, but I love it,” says Gail. “I have so much passion for cabinetry, for creating solutions for clients. Most of us spend our whole lives looking for that outlet for self-expression. I am so fortunate to have found it with cabinet making in my 30’s.
Gail literally fell into this career. “We were in the midst of our own remodeling project at home, and I saw a magazine article about cabinet making. I said to myself ‘I can do this.’ So I went to the lumber yard and bought materials. When I was done, I painted the cabinet black. It was beautiful. At that point, I was hooked.”
Within two months, Gail responded to an ad for a shop assistant at a local cabinet maker in Plymouth. “He hired me, and I never looked back. I had talent, but also a strong mathematical bent, which helps a lot.”
As a woman, Gail rarely gets special treatment. “It might get me in the door sometimes, but after that, it’s the product that keeps me there,” she says. When conducting business, she always dresses like a cabinet maker. “It’s all in how you present yourself. I want people to take me seriously. If you want to be respected, respect others and be professional.”
When she was the foreman of an all-male shop, she was totally comfortable. “The only problem I might have is if someone doesn’t want to be part of the team. Within the first two days on the job at ChestnutBay, everyone forgot I was a woman in the workshop. I proved myself as a craftsman, and that earned their respect,” she explained.”
“I love the cabinet-making process – from the initial interaction with a client to the design to the selection of materials to the feel, sounds, smells of the workshop, to the finishing and installation,” she explains. “When you get clients interested in the project, they become part of the team. That’s the best feeling you have. It’s a partnership.”
Gail exudes a rare combination of child-like wonder and firm discipline about her chosen profession. “How do I describe my journey? One that combines determination with a positive attitude. Negativity is toxic to me. I will do everything in my power to avoid a bad situation.”
Several years ago, Gail decided to branch out and combine her cabinet-making skills with kitchen design. She discovered that customers loved entering the shop and connecting with her.
She also had excellent relationships with many of the Cape’s best custom builders, many of whom appreciated how Gail could help them manage not only the kitchen design, but also the actual execution – working closely with the clients directly.
That’s how she decided to combine all her experience and skills by opening White Wood Kitchen.
“What I love about this job is the ability to work hand in hand with my clients, their builders and architects and provide them with concierge service with an incredible cabinet as an end result,” says Gail.
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