Prole-based custom woodworking business awarded Iowa Farm Bureau's Renew Rural Iowa Entrepreneur Award
Clayton and Megan Aronson’s hobby creating exceptional designs using salvaged Iowa wood became a full-fledged business when their uniquely colored, woodgrain furniture became not just the talk of the town but shared by designers around the world. Their vision has earned them Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa (RRI) Entrepreneur Award.
Aronson Woodworks in Prole is not your run-of-the-mill custom furniture business. Their patented “CLAIZE™” finishing process allows them to color the grain of the wood and the “field”—the spaces between the grain—in uncommon ways. From rainbow-colored grain to black and white patterns resembling animal stripes, their work has graced the pages of Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and Traditional Home magazines.
Megan paid attention to trends she saw on social media and noticed a movement toward curved shapes and structural designs. Pairing high-demand waterfall construction with contrasting colors created an eye-catching product local designers desired for their clients. The Aronson’s business soon took off after one designer convinced Megan to begin an Instagram account to showcase their woodwork.
“I didn’t understand how it worked, but I understood the intent was to share pretty pictures,” said Aronson. “After making our debut on Instagram, we were lucky enough to get picked up by some national publications. And once we were able to start selling to some designers, we’d tag them, and designers who follow them would come check out our page. That’s genuinely how it continues to grow.”
However, the colors of their furniture are not the only interesting part of the Aronson’s story. They also collaborate with local tree care and removal companies to salvage Ash trees being removed due to the infestation or threat of Emerald Ash Borer. It is a win-win for Clayton to upcycle these trees which would otherwise be disposed of, and Ash, in his opinion, has the “best and most pronounced, naturally flowing grain.” Clayton says they are looking for ways to “ramp up the possibilities” of what their business can do from setting their sights on a new workshop to using more salvaged lumber.
“When we presented this award to the Aronsons, we had a good chuckle how a business out of Prole, Iowa, with a population of 947 people, was creating high-end design trends for fashion-forward clients in New York and being featured in homes and galleries as far away as El Salvador,” says, Adam Koppes, Iowa Farm Bureau senior investment manager, who recently was featured on The Spokesman Speaks podcast to share how Renew Rural Iowa can take rural businesses to the next level. “Iowa Farm Bureau is honored to be able to elevate these entrepreneurs who offer not just value to the marketplace but to their local communities by putting their towns on the map, offering employment opportunities and investing more dollars back into main street.”
Since its inception, RRI, an Iowa Farm Bureau initiative that supports new and existing businesses through education, mentoring and financial resources, has helped create more than $125M in economic impact for rural communities. On June 10, RRI will host “Journey to Your Vision” in Dyersville. This seminar will bring business owners together to identify what stage their business is in and what opportunities there are to create growth. For more information about RRI and upcoming business seminars, visit https://www.iowafarmbureau.com/Renew-Rural-Iowa.
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