By Meredith Hughes
Dead wood is so not dead, especially in the hands of Rick Thaler, long-time owner of OGB Architectural Millwork, a company with woodworking projects here and abroad, operated by 85 employees when Thaler sold it this past October.
Thaler’s goal was to leap deeper into his hobby —one of his hobbies— creating furniture from old planks. To that end he purchased a $23,000 Wood Mizer band saw. Made in USA, the formidable bright orange gas-powered machine currently sits under a shade shed on a property owned by one of his family members. Living in the house on the property in fact owned by Thaler’s son-in-law, firefighter and emergency medical technician Garrett Allen, at 4404 Corrales Road , is his 28 year-old son, Jacob, Jacob’s partner. Angelica, and their brand new daughter, Arielle.
The hobby is steadily turning into a business, named Dendro, from the Greek for tree, as in rhododendron, as in rose tree. Said business will be managed by Jacob Thaler, who recently moved back to Corrales from Colorado where he owned a retail business specializing in vape products. Jacob Thaler and his sister grew up amidst wood, but only now is he truly drilling deep into trees, their characteristics, and products derived from them.
A long time in Corrales, 45 years, Papa Thaler learned woodworking early, then became an apprentice cabinetmaker at Bradbury Stamm in Albuquerque where he became general manager until buying the business and renaming it OGB Architectural Millwork. The name honors company founder Orville Grant Bradbury, who established it in 1925. One of Thaler’s favorites projects was the ceiling of the library at Santa Fe Prep, resembling, appropriately, an open book.
Custom ceilings were a major feature of the millwork, and the company continues today. Another prized project is the Southern Ute Museum in Ignacio, Colorado. Another: the interior of the courthouse in Santa Fe, adjacent to the Round House. Thaler related that he got an internship with the Indian Health Service when in one of his colleges —his father had been a physician— and was put up in Corrales at one of remarkable builder Pete Smith’s houses. That experience ended the notion of living anywhere else in the nation.
Heading towards 50 years in Corrales, Thaler is grateful for what the village offered him. “I came here with nothing and people here were incredibly generous to me.” He stresses the importance of supporting young people who leave the area to study and work, and then want to return to this community, to both grow businesses and give back. Case in point are “the Silverleaf boys,” Aaron and Elan Silverblatt-Buser, sons of Thaler’s cousin, who have made Silver Leaf Farms into a thriving organic business. They call him “Uncle…”
“One of the things I want to get across is the value of having young people like Jake and my ‘nephews,’ who were born and raised here, able to return and become active contributing citizens of the village. It will be great if Jake and Angelica can build something for Ariella to take part in, “ as Thaler put it. Meanwhile, the Thalers expect their permanent business license soon, having plunged into the complex world of costly surveys (done), site development plans (done) zone amendments —seems that while the Corrales Road house is indeed part of the commercial zone, the long skinny plot on which they are using the Wood Mizer, is not.
“We wanted to do things right,” said Thaler, setting up an LLC and all the rest. Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout has been “incredibly helpful,” working with them at the start of the pandemic, and assisting them in getting a temporary business license in the meantime.
One ongoing issue: noise. Although both Thalers compare the noise of the Mizer at full volume not dissimilar from that of the traffic on Corrales Road, they will strive to contain whatever noise is emitted. Right now the Mizer sits beneath a shade structure, surrounded by an array of downed wood. Some came from two dead sycamores right near the house on Corrales Road. Downed Russian olives are part of the mix, along with a range of wood from fruit trees, including prized apricot. Rick Thaler says he has a friend who runs in the village, and spots downed trees, takes their photos, and lets him know their location. Dendro also can take down a tree, as part of their services. Some planks created by the new saw are sold to locals, some even shipped across the United States.
A Dendro website coming soon will delineate planks as well as furniture made from planks for sale, and Thaler intends eventually to build a 2,400 square foot shop, where he and Jacob and cohorts can efficiently turn out more products. Thaler’s friends and contacts in Corrales, including fence builder Jeff Barrows, not only find trees, but also are getting involved in aiding Dendro in production. One fellow has created metal legs to be affixed to planks, thus making yet another salable product.
“We are seeking local artisans and designers who might want to work with us, or create items with the wood we process,” said Thaler. Dendro even sells small round cuts of wood suitable for barbecuing. Other folks who value the esthetic qualities of wood seek out cuts that reveal flaws, or insect invasion, or any number of oddities that can be turned into art. Rick Thaler also continues to promote “house concerts,” now mostly on hold until post-pandemic. Meanwhile, there is no lack of downed wood to haul into the Mizer. You can reach Dendro by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.