Most people expect trades people to have always loved their trade. While this may be the case for some, for Lucas Jablonski it wasn't always so romantic. The now co-founder of the highly successful Lighthouse Woodworks, Lucas's story is full of layers. Listen in as we get the full scoop on how Lucas found his stride in the trades and what spawned the foundation of Lighthouse Woodworks.
Eric Girouard 0:00
Hey guys, this is Eric and you're listening to bucket talk powered by BRUNT. We sat down with Lucas Jablonski, co owner of lighthouse wood works. The son of a cabinet maker Lucas was no stranger to woodworking. But it wasn't until high school that he began to see the opportunities that existed for him in the trades. Listen in as we get a full scoop on everything from his multilingual upbringing, to dodging a contract that could have cost him his career. This is bucket talk, weekly podcast for people who work in the trades and construction that aren't just trying to survive, but have the ambition and desire to thrive. The opportunity to trades and construction is absolutely ridiculous right now. So if you're hungry, it's time to eat. We discuss what it takes to rise from the bottom to the top with people who are well on their way and roll up their sleeves every single day. Hey guys, here with Lucas Joe blonsky, co owner of lighthouse wood workspace here in East Boston, Massachusetts. Lucas, thank you so much for taking the time to hang out this evening and take some time to sit down. Yeah. Thanks for having me, man. Awesome, awesome. So let's go back as far back as you want, and give us a little bit of the early life is as much as you want to share about who Lucas is. And then we'll eventually get on to lighthouse in the business.
Lucas Jablonski 1:20
Yeah. So I mean, through social media, a lot of people often ask me how I got into woodworking and because there's a kind of a typical, people had the story where somebody, somebody asked me wants to build a something. And I was like, yeah, I'll do it. And I fell in love. And I started asking more people if I can build things and so they bought it. People expect that from me. But I guess in order to get understand my story, I have to go back further. So when I was a kid, I was born in Detroit, right? Oh, nice. All right. I didn't know that. And my father is an immigrant from Poland. And he when when I was a kid, he didn't speak English. He married my mother who didn't speak Polish. So I had spoke to my dad and polish spoke to my mom in English, and it was just a weird, weird situation. So
Eric Girouard 2:11
and did they speak to each other? That was the way I got it? Yeah. Weird. Sounds like a good marriage actually.
Lucas Jablonski 2:19
actually ended up ended badly. And but they ended up getting back together later. But God, I need to know the person you're spending your living with. Yeah. So when I was a kid, he was a doughnut maker. And then somebody offered him a job to do cabinetry. So he was working for Sears Home, home improvements back in the day, that was a big thing. And when, like, what we're talking about parents, we're having that language barrier was a problem. They separated. My dad moved to Denver, because they offered him a job there got it working for the same company, but he wanted to be more in the mountains, stuff like that. So that's when he really learned to to woodworking, start doing more stuff. And then that job kind of went bad after my parents fix their their issues. He started his own business.
Eric Girouard 3:11
Got it. So I was probably that was in Denver, or got it. Okay,
Lucas Jablonski 3:16
so I was probably 10 when he started his own custom cabinetry company. Yep. And But meanwhile, before that, when I was eight, every summer I there wasn't a choice. I was working for dad. Like I didn't have my friends, typical summers, where you go out to the pool, you go to the park, you ride your bikes, you go play sports, whatever. I was, like, working for dad and I was earning my way.
Eric Girouard 3:40
Yeah, he probably needed you to do some of the work. Yeah,
Lucas Jablonski 3:44
exactly. Right. Because when you're doing cabinetry, especially if you have your own business, which that happened when I was 10. So I already did it for a couple years. But at this point, he kind of needed a second hand even though I was a kid. Yeah, like just to carry things when you're by yourself. Installing cabinetry is
Eric Girouard 4:00
Yeah, nice. Oh, give me that tool in my truck on here. I don't want to move. Yeah, that was me. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 4:06
And so I did that every year and then he Little by little, was asked me to do more like after school, I'll go work late hours in the shop, and his business is boomed. It did really well like really high end custom cabinetry and like, Aspen like ski resorts and really high end homes and then it's beautiful there. So he was started, they started booming is hiring more and more people in the company got bigger and I was getting older. So when I finished high school, I mean, it wasn't like, asked of me, but it was kind of like a non given like, Luke is you're the heir to the throne here. There's a kingdom and I want to pass everything to you. And so but I never liked that idea. Right? I never wanted to. I never wanted to because I had so many like, as a kid and being stupid. Not seeing the things that my immigrant father was working for. I was just a spoiled brat, who just was like, No, I don't I don't want to do this. You made me do this all summer and all my friends were skateboarding, you know, snowboarding. And so I was I don't when I got to finishing high school is like, I'm done with this thing. But he was kind of like unspoken, like, well, you're gonna do it. Yeah. And so I did it. After high school, I started working full time for him. And then I ended up becoming lead of install the install crews. And then I was working in the shop becoming manager there. And I was just running projects. And I learned so much freakin woodwork. Yes. From like, the ins and outs of the business side. Like my father was the owner. So I learned the things that he does that are good for business, and also the bad things. Yeah, like, if I were to start a business, I would never do that. Yeah, I wouldn't start a business. I definitely would do that. And I had this blessing of just like, all this pre business ownership and the woodworking world, this knowledge that I could now pick apart, say what I want, right? Yeah, yep. So I worked for him. I learned all this stuff. And I was I was good. You know, because he was paying me per job of got it. So every kitchen I built, I got a percentage of that kitchen. And every kitchen I installed, I got a percentage of that kitchen. So I was saying, like, if I could do install two kitchens this week, I can make four grand in a week instead of two grand. Yeah, yeah. And those guys were doing like maybe one to two kitchens a month
Eric Girouard 6:43
right now motivated to Yeah, so. But also, it sounds like he's at a high level of caliber. So you also couldn't cut corners.
Lucas Jablonski 6:51
Exactly. No, yeah, there's definitely no way. So I hired one of my buddies. And I was like, dude, I want to do this fast. But you have to do everything. I say, yeah, you have to do it the way I say because my dad's gonna come in and inspect it, and I'm gonna get paid, and I'm not getting paid. And he's also going to make me redo it again, for free. Yeah, we have to do it fast. But we have to do well, if you want to make money if you want me to pay you well, because I already had 18 already has an employee and I'm lm style. You're like kind of man. Yeah.
So I'm hiring my buddies, but to work for me so that we could get more kitchens installed in more kitchens built and to be like, you listen to me, and you'll make more money. Yeah. And so we're all going, you know, installing and stuff. And I'm just there. Like, you know, this was where I'm managing everything. And, and so we're, we're put doing end up doing two kitchens a week. That's like, that's four grand a week. Yeah. Yeah. So I was 18. Making a 202.
If you did it ever. That's 200 some Yeah. grand a year. Mine is what I was paying all them. But yeah, yeah. Yeah. What's
it like, if I were by myself? That's crazy. Yeah. And, by the way, it was like, I didn't like it. I didn't, it wasn't my thing, right. Like, it was all this bad. History, like taste in my mouth of being like, as a kid and like, not being able to be with my friends. And just like, it was like, this is your duty as a child. And then I was just like, Okay, I'm over that duty.
Eric Girouard 8:14
I want to have my own duty. Yeah, you're almost rebellious.
Lucas Jablonski 8:17
rebellious, I guess. Yeah. Like, I did what I had to do, but it's like, I wasn't like, I didn't have that passion then. Yeah, right. And also back then, like nowadays, it's cool to be a woodworker.
Eric Girouard 8:27
Yeah, right. Yeah. That I
Lucas Jablonski 8:28
was a kid. My all my friends were like, what are you doing? Like? Yes, for like, you know, nobody? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. If you can't find a job, then you go work in the trades. Yep. Yeah, and now I've been doing it for what I'm 33 I started full time when I was 17. You do the math?
Eric Girouard 8:49
Yes. 16 years. Yeah. Time. woodworking. Yeah. In different Yeah. Then. So there. I didn't really woodworking before you were 10. Yes. In a limited capacity. Yeah. Yep.
Lucas Jablonski 9:04
And also, my dad did a bunch of remodeling on the house. I had to work on his site story. But another podcast. Yeah. But I, all my friends were like, no going to college for this thing and going to become studying computer engineering and different things and they're just like, holding the hammer. Like, man, I'm loser. You know, I'm never gonna be nobody. I'm just gonna be this woodworker. But now people look at me completely envious, right? Yeah, I've worked my butt off. I have the business. I have my house. Now. I work for my dad. I paid my dues there and like, and there are people out there working great jobs, and they're just like, Man, what I would get to just have my own woodworking company. You know, like well turn full circle, you know? Yeah. So,
Eric Girouard 9:57
so So how did you make that, so for I'm sure you're with your dad. Let's do a little bit of that transition of like, How the heck did you get out of that which was like your kingdom to be handed over to like, Hey, I'm doing my own thing.
Lucas Jablonski 10:11
That's an interesting story too, because I was I left I was rebellious kid not rebellious in the sense that like a lot of people think like, dude, a lot of drugs and partying and stuff, right? Yeah, I did my fair share, but I wasn't. My my rebellious wasn't geared that way. Yeah, my rebellious ness was geared towards trying to show the middle finger to my dad, right? Yeah, yeah, it was this post communist Polish guy were really strict. And it was, uh, you work or you leave the house? Kind of, and I'm like, 12. Like,
yeah, yeah. So
Eric Girouard 10:50
like, I'm leaving the house one day, but one day,
Lucas Jablonski 10:52
but I can't now do my friend. My friend's mom won't let me sleep in his bedroom for a couple days. Yeah. So I kind of like get every excuse I could to leave. So I went to New York for a year. And I started working for a cabinet guy there. And then I went back home. So working for my dad thinking, hey, maybe like you mature, and maybe not. Yeah, but no, I was still this kid. Yeah. Then I went to California for a couple years, I was dating this girl. And I was thinking I was gonna live there. And that British wouldn't bad. So I had to go back home and podcast, another podcast. And then I just started working for him again, it was like I did, I've travelled a bit, I lived on my own a little bit. It's like now it's just like, 24 at this point,
Eric Girouard 11:43
Jesus, and you sounded like you were like, 50 by this point. I've done a lot. And so
Lucas Jablonski 11:52
I was like, Alright, I'm 20 I don't remember 20 floors. Early. Yeah, late 20s. And I was like, I need to start doing something, you know, like, planning my life. Either. I'm gonna just start work good. Except to be the heir to the throne, or I need to do something, or you're a college now or whatever. And I was a little old for college. But I was looking into it. And but then I was just like, you know what, I'm gonna do this. I'm just gonna work here, you know, just started taking more responsibilities. And just like, entry, and I developed a lot more passion than Yeah, when I did it for me, right. Yeah, I accepted it. And then, because I was starting to change things a little bit to be my way, because his style was different, right? Yeah, he has this very. I don't know how he's antiquey looking like traditional looking style. Yeah. And my style was like, if I wanted, I wanted to do something that I could look at and be like, I love this. Yeah. Um, granted, all the his stuff he was building as gorgeous.
Eric Girouard 12:52
Yeah, just different times in. Yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 12:54
And, but then I ended up meeting my wife, who is from New York. And we were kind of like a, like a conference thing. God just for fun. And she was there. I was there. We started talking. And we ended up talking long distance. And we were she was visiting me. I was visiting her. And we were talking a long time pass. Right? And then we're like, Okay, what were you talking about getting married? Right? Yeah. And so then we were like, she was like, I'm not moving to Denver. She's like, I'm from New York, Brooklyn, that I'm not moving to a town. Yeah, I can't live in New York. Like that's just too crazy. Again, have a family there and you started Yes, or whatever. So then we decided, you know what, like, What's something we can agree upon? So we decided, let's go to Boston. Sweet. Yeah. So we moved to Boston.
Eric Girouard 13:40
That's interesting. Neither of you are from here, but decided on a middle ground of a place to relocate. That's unusual. Yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 13:48
Well, there was like, she was no convincing her. It was definitely no convincing. Maybe. Like I did a year of woodworking in in New York. Yeah, that was held dude. Yeah, like, the everything was crooked. You've taken a miter saw and all this stuff. Up 20 flights of stairs because this building doesn't have elevator guy. I'm not doing that. Yeah. So then when I we got married and moved to Boston, I started working for another company, local company here that builds furniture. Yep. And I was newly married and we started this guy shop he started to shop building furniture but he didn't have any furniture experience right? He just hired me to build it for him while he was selling it selling it and marketing it and branding it and everything. Yeah. And so I was like cool. This is awesome. I got my own shop. He doesn't know about it. Anything about woodworking ever I want you to weigh in on what you're doing. Yeah. So then they're like I screw this thing right and then they were ended up being like three input three guys working under me after a year and at this point, my wife and I saw We're having kids. And I told him like, Look, man, I need to start making more money. I'm living in the shithole, and Dorchester. And I got kids and I need to move out of there. I need to make more money. I need a better living for my family because I know I could go get a cabinet job tomorrow with my resume and be making kilrush Yeah, and but I told him I don't want to do that. I love this. I love make me furniture like I develop this passion for furniture, right? Yes. Like this. Lot of people have a very romantic idea of woodworking especially like the stuff we do like I hire people all the time who are just like, they think they're gonna be there with handplane Yeah, and like hand sanding and blow and then all sudden they go slow mo and the dust flies in the air. You know, some sweet music. Yeah, exactly. But it's not like that. And businesses business. woodworking is woodworking by develop the passion there, right, because they're the most romantic you can get is there. Right? Yeah. Because you're in your shop, you're in your space. And like, like our shop, you know, we hang wood on the walls. We got like lights go in and like, it's just very like homey cozy, right? Yeah. And I love that. And I'm like building things with my hands the way I want to build them. And nobody's telling me any different and they're selling. Yep. And I was good at it. Right. And so then we hired these few guys. And I told him like, Look, I love this job. I love the company. I love the brand. I love everything that's going on here. I just need to make more money. And he's like, I can't afford it. Like, you. We got three guys in the shop was me. I said what if we fire one of them? And I work more hours? Yeah, I can do I can outwork that guy. Yeah, I could do two hours more day and do what that guy does in a week. Yeah, you know, just let me have it because I you need me. And I need to feed my family. Yeah. And so he wasn't about that, because he was a little insecure about like, if anything happened to me. He wanted
Eric Girouard 16:53
some backup plan. Yeah,
Lucas Jablonski 16:54
back. Yeah. So then I said, Hey, how about like, you build tables? How about I start building chairs. And I will do it all on my own time and my buddy's garage. And I'll build tape chairs for you. And just put them in your showroom. And when somebody buys a table, you just try and sell them. Yeah. And then I can make a couple grand extra a month. Yeah. By you selling my chair. Yeah. And I'll do it on the side. And he's like, Oh, great. weird thing happened. You know, he goes, when we're not out of state, out of the country to visit his wife's family, he comes back and he puts in front of me a 10 year non compete. I can't would work in the United States anywhere for 10 years. What and I was like, Dude, this is the only thing I know how to do. And I'm pretty sure this is illegal.
Eric Girouard 17:39
Lucas Jablonski 17:42
You're not gonna sign this and say, I can't woodwork anywhere in the United States. Like tell me I can't build a table. Tell me I can't do whatever. But this is ridiculous. The only thing I don't want to do live
Eric Girouard 17:51
code. I can't shop. Yeah, this is the
Lucas Jablonski 17:54
only thing I can do. And he's like, no, either you sign it or you got to go. And I was like, I'm not saying I man. Like if I sign this, that means you got 10 years have never given me raise. And like,
Eric Girouard 18:06
that's like, dude, that's crazy. Yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 18:08
So I was like, Alright, that's the story. I gotta go, you know, and
Eric Girouard 18:14
you think he was calling your bluff? Do you think
Lucas Jablonski 18:16
I think he was. He knew I needed to feed your family. Yeah, yeah. He knew I wasn't gonna just like, up and go. Because my kids.
Yeah, yeah. So I did though. Because I love that
Eric Girouard 18:32
you can get into the country for a little bit when I figured
Lucas Jablonski 18:35
you like, I saw you do this. I saw my dad do that. And I created this shop. Yeah. And I know your marketing skills. Because we were like partners.
Eric Girouard 18:45
Yeah, yeah. Except you weren't partners
Lucas Jablonski 18:47
that we weren't. Yeah. So he let me go. I came home and I called Daniel. And I was like, dang, we think about starting a business and had you know, Daniel, Daniel. Okay, so did you Well, I've been friends since my Detroit days. Yep. Yes, that he lived in Chicago. And his dad and my dad were really close friends got it. And then when I moved to Denver, then he moved back to Boston, where his dad's originally from, we were long distance friends from being kids, and we traveled to hang out and stuff and just go on trips together places. So yep, long, like, We're best friends. But then we were like pen pal friends. Yeah. So when we chose to move to Boston was kind of like, it wasn't because of him. It was just he happened to be Yeah. So I called Daniel. And I was like, Dude, what do you think about starting a business? And he's like, What are you thinking to do? I was like, tables, man. This way I can do I love it. I freaking love building tables. I love building furniture like, whatever it is chairs, tables, dressers beds, like I love it. I'll build everything. His background is in sales and marketing. As a you can take care of that. I'll take care of all the production will crush it. And he's like, Due to funny thing, like I just lost my job to, oh, he just got fired. Like, I think three days before me or three days after me. Yeah. Alright. And so I told him like, Daniel had a couple kids, I had a couple kids. And we're like, dude, we got to go balls to the wall with this heart. Like, if we don't make this work, then I can't. Like a lot of people start businesses as a side gig. Yeah. And then they like try to grow it to a place that eventually they can come full time. And, but that wasn't my situation, I was gonna put food on them. Not only that, but like if I go and start working for somebody else. I'm not going to want to come home and then work on more woodworking. Yeah, yep. Unless I have to. Yep. And like the previous situation with the chairs. Yeah, it was like a I had to do it. But so he was like, all for it, like, total entrepreneurial spirit. And yeah, he started getting getting the LLC. Then we started to design the website, we started telling everybody we could. And we were the shop that I was going to build the chairs. And we we were starting the shop there to build tables and furniture and everything. And there, we quickly realized that power in that garage was not going to and then we found this building the shop. We have now got it. And that shut that small space there years ago. That was four years ago. Got it. And we started a small shop there. People in the podcast won't know. But in Mark's office. Yeah. That was our whole shop. That whole thing was our shop. And we were building 20 foot tables in that small room. Shit. Yeah, it was insane. And then we just were going and but Dana was super smart with the way he marketed the the path seated the things he did with like, social media, like social media, for the most part was me on 100% was me. He just knew how to market our pages. Yeah. And
Eric Girouard 21:56
you created the content, but he knew how to distribute it.
Lucas Jablonski 21:59
Exactly. Yeah. So he was like, ads, ads and that kind of thing. That's his Yeah, he did the ads. Yeah. And with Google and all that stuff. And so within, like, I think it was like a month we started. We got our first sale, which is a huge table.
Eric Girouard 22:14
By the way, before that first sale. How were you guys sweating bullets were like, Oh, shit, I
Lucas Jablonski 22:20
was shitting my pants. Okay, I right now we're sitting in my shop, or in our building? Yeah. A block. To the left is where Daniel lived. And a block to the right is where I lived at the time. Yep. And so we found this place on Zillow or whatever. And we're like, What are you talking about? There's a woodshop. There's a shop space here. We live here. There's no shop space around here. Yeah. So we came and looked at and we're like, holy crap, I didn't even know this building was here. And I lived here, you know. And, but we started paying rent, because we had to. Yeah, and but we were like, man, we don't have money. Yeah, we didn't have we started this business with, like, couple tools that I had that I brought from Denver, and like, a couple grand and that we collaborated from each of our pocket. Yeah. And so we were paying rent. And we're like, do we have to sell stuff? Because we already have the shop? Like, yeah, and plus. We had kids at home and our, our rents to pay at home, you know, so yeah, it was scary. It was definitely scary. But a lot of people ask me often, like, how did you do it? Like, how do you come full time? And like, I always tell him like, I don't want to hear your sob stories. Like, I don't need to hear like, Oh, it's too hard. Like, dude, I what I did was freaking hard. Right? I had nothing. I wasn't. Yeah, kids. You know, why? If you had a house, yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 23:43
And a lot of people starting in their garage. I have a garage apartment here. So I had to pay extra for shop. And I said like, right, every business comes to a point where you just have to jump and go full time. Yeah. And there's two types of entrepreneurs, business owners, wherever you want to call them are the ones who are willing to jump and ones who aren't. Right, right. And the ones who aren't willing to jump will always be a garage door. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So either you you have the balls
Eric Girouard 24:08
jump and you figure out how to build it on the way down. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Lucas Jablonski 24:11
And if you if you fall, if you jump and you fall, and you break your leg, then you figure it out. Yeah. And I could die. You're not gonna die. Yeah. And, or you go find a job somewhere. And that's where I was, you know, like, yeah, I gotta jump. You know?
Eric Girouard 24:25
Yeah. The good thing is, though, with you is you Oh, you had a skill. Yeah. So say you jumped in. You fell, it would have sucked to go back to work as a cabinet. Oh, yeah. But you had you had something you could have fallen back on. It wasn't like you were, you know, I don't know. can't pay rent and
Lucas Jablonski 24:42
yeah, yeah. I mean, I would have had to look for a job and everything. Yeah, it would have not been but I was confident I could find a job. Yep,
Eric Girouard 24:50
Lucas Jablonski 24:51
When I first moved here, I went on in kitchen installer, kitchen builder interviews and they were like, looking at my resume. Yeah. 3540 bucks an hour. Yeah,yeah in there. I was making like 15 bucks an hour I first started. Yeah, but I took it. And I was willing to take that 15 bucks because I was doing what I wanted to do. Yeah, yeah. At the time my wife was working and I was like, What is life? If you don't love what you're doing? Yeah, you spent eight hours. 10 hours of your day in this box. Yep. You got to enjoy it somewhat. Yep. So I don't care how much money is in my bank account. If I'm not spending it spending my time here. Yeah, yeah, I gotta love it and like, and then it gave me more that's
Eric Girouard 25:32
cool. Cuz it sounds like your wife was on board with that. She was she was totally not always the case. No, I
Lucas Jablonski 25:37
know. She was like, she was so full. Very she she knows my skills and everything. Yeah, she trusted I could do something with that. Even with that other company I was working for you know, yeah. So which was really cool. But so I then that is
Eric Girouard 25:54
right play by the way. rewinding back to the his right play would have been 10 year non compete, which is Bs, but whatever. Which is your now my 50% partner in this business. Oh, you even be like, dude, no brainer. Yeah, I'll sign anything. Because I'm not going anywhere. Yeah,
Lucas Jablonski 26:08
I own half those come. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But that was another thing. He did promise me percentage ownership. Yeah. Because I started this thing. And if he was afraid of like, me leaving eventually, whenever that was this way to keep me in. Yeah. But now the problem is, like, between me and you, and everybody listening this podcast, is that I'm putting him out of business. Yeah, dude, people come to my shop. Yeah. They're like, Hey, I thought you say well, I went to this other company, too. And I was like, Oh, I know that company. All those guys. They're working there. I trained them. And they're like, Oh, yeah. And so like, Yeah, okay. Okay. The table from you then. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, that's funny. It's, uh, I mean, I'm not I don't want bad blood or whatever. Right. Right. But it's, uh, it's just
Eric Girouard 26:54
like you competition breeds excellence? Yeah, you're raising the bar. And a lot of areas and they probably aren't keeping up with it. Because they don't have you to keep raising the bar.
Lucas Jablonski 27:02
Exactly. Yeah, for sure. And he's like, Yeah, I saw a couple days ago. On that their social media platforms. They're offering these crazy sales. Without me there's a problem. Yeah. So and we have work right now. Three to five tables a week. We're building every week until February right now. She's in it is what? October 5? You know?
Eric Girouard 27:23
Yeah. So the middle of a global pandemic financial crisis. And your tables aren't cheap.
Lucas Jablonski 27:30
No, they're not cheap. We just keep raising the prices. Yeah, because if you're willing to wait for February, like, let's get ready to get sooner. Yeah. Yeah, we're not even that. Like, if our lead times that far. How can we shorten lead time? Just raise the price. Right. Right. Right. So yeah, but that's all whole nother business problem, right. Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, going on different tangents here.
Eric Girouard 27:54
So So yeah, so all right. So you you end up just you and Daniel partner up you guys are your first set are like holy shit, this thing. My work, you got a bunch of responsibilities, liabilities, alright, then how do you take it from your first sale, which is like, well, we got a product people like to like, to the next phase of the business, which is, Hey, now we're making a table a month in a table every two weeks. And like the net, you know, like you can, this might work?
Lucas Jablonski 28:20
Yeah, you know, so we sold our first table. And it was like, an outrageous price. We just threw out this number because we like we just threw out this crazy number because we're like, we got to sell this table crazy high or crazy ly Oh, got it. It was our first table. And we saw that really expensive. And that kind of like, helped us to have confidence to have a high end. Table company. Right? Yep. And so you can always lower prices. Yeah. Hard to raise. Yeah. And so because you know, if you start selling tables for IKEA, you never could raise that price, right? Yeah. Like we're not building table for the masses. we're taping building tables who have made a custom piece. Yeah, yeah. And so we sold this first table, outrageous price. And really nice table. But me it was a table with like eight chairs and a coffee table that was like coffee table. And it would extend to the height of the dining table, Jesus that would be used as an extension so they could bring their coffee table to the table to have a bigger table. It was really cool. But we sold it for a lot. And that saved their button and being because we had all this cash to now invest. Yep. Right. We weren't taking money still. Yeah. And we put it all back into the business. Yeah, we started using it to market things. So we tried like a magazine. We tried like some ads and internet and things. And then all sudden people started calling. Yeah. And from that day, there hasn't been a day that I didn't need to come work
Eric Girouard 29:53
you had. You had the fortunate ability to sell it for a crazy price to fund the whole thing. And then and then and then really This next step was alright table to really for you is the big thing then. Yeah,
Lucas Jablonski 30:03
exactly. So we started marketing hoping one of these is going to bite. So we marketed in a lot of different places. And we're scrutinizing and analyzing, like, Alright, what's bringing what feedback? Yep. So then we just like our that didn't bring any feedback. Don't pay there anymore. Put it over here where we got one sale. Yeah. And then Okay, now that that money is over here. So when we have two sales from that place, it was like a game. Right? Got it. And so, and then shortly after we were doing all kinds, we did everything. That's why I'm saying when you jump, you've got a fucking jump. Yeah, no, because we were doing all this stuff with kids at home. And every weekend, Daniel and I were at flea markets and farmers markets and stuff, trying to sell little Shaku cutting boards and like coasters.
Eric Girouard 30:53
Yep. But we
Lucas Jablonski 30:54
weren't really selling those because you couldn't bring tables there. Yeah, maybe set up this whole like coasters. Yay. But we had all these like binders and iPads and stuff full of tables. Just started selling some tables through that. Got
Eric Girouard 31:07
it. That's it. I love that hustle. Yeah, well, yeah, that's what I'm saying. Hacking, hacking myth, the flea market.
Lucas Jablonski 31:15
And so one guy then like the next big statement for us a few months later, after that first sale, this guy walks up into a market in Cambridge. And he's like, Oh, this is cool. I was like, Yeah, but we really built tables. And he's like, oh, let me see tables, and show him. He's like, Oh, I'm working on this restaurant downtown. They need like, 60 tables. And we're like, yeah, we have, we have to have, you know, so that we do that. Yeah. So we ended up doing this getting this project. It was like 60 grand, and saved us man. Like, that was like, the next thing to take us to the next level. Right? Yeah. And it was for like a really high end place by a famous chef, like, yeah. And so that was the next step. Right. And then we could use a lot more money for more marketing, more things. And, you know, a lot of people try to run a business by just word of mouth. But to me like that's, it's very difficult to have a real business, not just like a mom and pop thing. Yeah. Real Thing with employees and stuff. Yeah, by word of mouth, you know? Yeah. And I may be wrong. Maybe people do do it.
Eric Girouard 32:27
Yeah. It's a rare breed. It's rare in marketing. And right now is
Lucas Jablonski 32:30
when right now is where we're benefiting from the word of mouth. Yeah, four years later. Yeah.
Eric Girouard 32:36
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. You scale. Yeah. Sweet, sweet. Alright, so a couple things I want to hit on. So first, give us a quick update where lighthouse is today. So you guys, you know, downstairs, roughly how many employees you're doing. If you were to you said, you're doing three to four tables a week, every single week, which is max capacity. Give us a little in of all right lighthouse today.
Lucas Jablonski 32:58
So we have now about a total of six to 7000 square feet. Total here. There's about five to 12356. Guys, six people working for us. And we are just like I said, super busy. You know, like we can't keep on top of it. And we don't want to slow it down. We don't want to turn off our marketing things to set because we can't catch up. Right. Our problem right now is to figure out, let them keep coming. But we have to figure out how to do it. Yeah. So that's our biggest dilemma. And
Eric Girouard 33:34
I read a major demand is outweighing your supply capabilities. Exactly. Exactly. The good news is in your market customers are okay, waiting. So that helps with your supply capability. But they're not going to wait two years. They're waiting till February right now, but at some point, they're going to say, Okay, I'm not waiting to Yeah, you gotta you guys got to get that output
Lucas Jablonski 33:55
Exactly. Some in some way. So that and that is the I think, in my opinion, and books that I've read and stuff has said like, that is the hardest part of business, starting a business. You can get some work and you can work from home or you can do little shop, whatever. And just like if I if it was just me, I could do maybe a table or two a month, and I would be doing well by myself. Yeah, right. But we have a printing. Yeah, exactly. And I don't want to do this for my whole life. Right. Right. Right. And so I was reading this book, I've read some books about this part of business. It's easy to start at the beginning or can be easy, but it's not like that detrimental, where a lot of businesses fail is kind of at the place that I am now, right? Where you have several employees you have your over produce, you can't produce enough for what is being asked save you. And how do you do that? Yeah, yeah. So a lot of people fall under that pressure and just say like, you know what, let's stop. Let's just do what we can do. And we can't do more
Eric Girouard 34:59
because miss out on sales. Yeah. Yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 35:02
But as I don't know how I could do more, and so I can't do more. And that's the problem we have right now. Like, I can't do more, because I could hire more people. And but in order to pay those people they needed to at least do another table a week. Yeah. Which then the business is bigger. But our pockets are the same. Yeah, right. Yeah. And so then you try to invest in more machines, a bigger shop, and then that's all gets more expensive. So in order to grow, you're actually losing.
Eric Girouard 35:31
Yeah, that makes Yep. Yep. No, totally. So you got to buy another CNC machine for a couple 100 grand, but then you actually win the whole Yeah, though. So here's the trick is you got to take one step back, take four steps forward. And the question is, do you want to take that one step back? Exactly. You know, yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 35:48
And so that's exactly where we are like, what is that step back? Because you know, you can make a mistake.
Eric Girouard 35:54
Yeah, you make a bad setback. Yeah. And then you're forced,
Lucas Jablonski 35:57
you bought that CNC machine, you realize, no, I should have hired two people. Right, whatever, you know, yeah. Yeah. And because now they don't have somebody to run that machine. And it's just, you have to be wise and smart about that next step. And so that's why this part where we are now to just really boom, like, because we have the capability to do it. We have the demand to do it. And we just need to figure out how we can do it. Because that's an I feel like this is where a lot of companies just end up going to China. Yeah, yeah. Yep. And that's, that's it. Like, I just, I have way too much work. I can't do it. Let me freakin find some guy in China. Give me 500 bucks. And then now I'm next. Bob's, I'm the next block store, you know, and he goes, Daddy goes down and drove down. Yep. But it's just at the end of the day, then it's all about money. But this isn't all about money. For me, right is about money. And it's important. But for me, it's the passion. Yep. I love what I see in this could be a flaw. And a lot of business owners out there might say I'm stupid and wrong, and I should just take what I get. But I am passionate about what we do. I stand behind my name and my quality. And I don't want it to just become another box store. Yeah, you know, yeah. Like, it's like an artist who paints these beautiful paintings. And then all sudden, so many people are asking for paintings. He starts hiring people to paint his painting. Yeah, you know, that's kind of how I feel about it. Yeah.
Eric Girouard 37:27
Got it. So what's so it sounds like? Alright, so that sounds like the Crossroads you're at is right. How do we scale up but also you don't lose control, creative control, creative control, whatever that. Yeah. So it sounds like you're figuring this out right. Now. What do you what do you think? Because we're going to have have to have another podcasts, you know, year from now, six months from now? What do you think the right next step is going to be? Is it another Seo? Is it more investment in technology and equipment to scale? The team? Is it more people is a bigger space? What do you what do you lean in towards right now early in the in the cycle?
Lucas Jablonski 37:58
I our space right now is fine. But I think it's going to be a combination of two things, which is the difficult part is certain like machine that I think would really save us time. But also a person to man, that machine. So we're like at this point where we need to buy a machine, in my opinion, the way I look at it to the machines, we get like $100,000 machine? Yep. The way I look at that is that is an employee for the year. Yeah, yeah, paying this employee for a year. And then after that he's a free employee. Yep. And so if I want to buy this next machine, I need to hire somebody to so I need to hire two people. which then means I need to make sure that these two people are not doing five times a week, but we're doing seven or six, whatever. Yeah. And that has to be done, or else then it starts really taking a hit on us. You know, yeah, we're paying out way more than what's coming in at that point.
Eric Girouard 39:01
Yeah. So it's tough. But that's, that's what I think will happen. And how do you make sure that employees happy enough, so they stick around after that year? Because you don't want to have to re train someone? Yeah, the equipment becomes free, but then all sudden, you're starting from ground zero? Are you gonna find someone that knows how to run that equipment? Yeah,
Lucas Jablonski 39:17
exactly. So you're saying it's a you're it's like we're in between a hard rock and a hard place? Right? Yeah. So a lot of that. Yeah. So there's the option of trying to figure out how to outsource more, which is something we've looked at without having a damper on quality. Yep. Like, what would it cost now to get wood coming into us? plain as for us, which means like, square Yeah, like cuz we spend time doing that. Yeah. What does that cost ratio?
Eric Girouard 39:47
Or pre built legs? MP? You're known for your tabletop?
Lucas Jablonski 39:50
Yeah, something like that. Exactly. You care about, you know, yeah, it's all it's all like that. Right? So or there's ways like we can make more money. If we hire people. So we hired guy, he's like half in the shop, but then he's also half a welder. Right? Because we outsource all our metal. Yeah. So then it's like, we don't pay that outsource metal guy to do our metal work. We now have a employee who's doing metal and running that machine. Yeah, you know, and, yeah, there's a lot of options. It's just which options.
Eric Girouard 40:20
You guys have gotten to this, like, next level stage, and most people don't ever get to you, but like your next one or two steps could be like, no, yeah. Or, you know, to the moon or to the bottom. Yeah, or not to the bottom, but a reset of way. And we got to offload some often, you know, and we've, I mean, we've, we've been through those things before, right? Like, not like a huge
Lucas Jablonski 40:46
change in the company like this. But we've had we've, we've learned a lot and we've made a lot of mistakes. Like we've hired people like we've had way too many employees at one time before that we don't even know how we were forming them. But we were somehow Yeah, and but then there's like, they were like there was too much and was not enough work. And then guys are getting paid to just twiddle his thumbs and night. And so then he just like, and it wasn't the right guy. Like we had a guy. We were paying a lot of money. Pro carpenter, right. He knew how to build cabinets. He knew how to build tables. Yep. And he was damn good. He was really good. But he was cocky. Oh,
Eric Girouard 41:28
yeah. If fucked up the whole shot. Yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 41:30
He's like, he was like, I know how to do it. You're not gonna let me go? Because I'm so good. But then that really his pace was super slow. Got it. So he ended up leaving because of COVID. Got it? took advantage of the
Eric Girouard 41:47
Yeah, you get paid to Yeah, yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 41:50
And we hired this new guy who's from Germany. Jonas. is best is awesome. He's the he donaldsons is Jonas. He makes a lot less than that guy. And, but his speed dude is like twice. Yeah, he didn't know how to be good. Human is great human. Yeah, amazing human. But he didn't know how to build furniture coming in. But he's like, cares. So much. Being a good human. He cares. Yeah. And he is learning so fast. And he's just, I show him once. And it is never time. I have to tell him that again. Yeah. And so he's learning quick, and his speed is fast. And we're paying him less. This was a genius. Business move. Right, dude. I mean, it was not our move. It was a natural business move. But
it is. We're super grateful.
Eric Girouard 42:42
Those are the people that honestly are the best. You can show them something once they may fuck it up. mess it up. You never have showed again. Yeah. Like that's like a homerun. Yeah, they're learning. They're getting better. They're gonna they're hearing and they're caring. Yeah, cuz
Lucas Jablonski 42:56
if you have to tell them twice is fine. But after three times, it's like Aren't you just don't listen.
Eric Girouard 43:02
Yeah, you're not you're not I'm telling I'm, you know, in this business for 26 years. You are Yeah, I'm giving you in my advice. You don't give a shit what I'm doing.
Lucas Jablonski 43:12
Yeah, that's fine. Yeah. Or you're just here just cuz, you know, your heart's not in it like, Yeah, and I feel like I'm with whatever trade whatever profession you're in. Your heart has to be in it. Yeah. You can't just go there as a robot young. My dad used to call them clock watchers, you know? Oh, either way into five. Yeah, he's like, Alright, I got 10 minutes left. I'm not going to start anything new now. Because I got 10 minutes left is like just wasting time. Yeah. Like, no, we do everything you can, you know, it's like or if you're not, you're about to finish up like, Oh, it's five o'clock. Okay. I'm just gonna finish this. I'll clock out at 520. You know, yos are the people you care because they are somebody who will be a future to the company. Yeah,
Eric Girouard 43:56
yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Now, we're gonna do a lot more podcasts within the future. But so we'd like to lighten it up at the end. So for Lucas himself if you could spend a half an hour with, with anyone in the world, past president deceased, living rock star job down the street doesn't matter. who would it be and why?
Lucas Jablonski 44:21
This is very tough question. But I'm a realistic guy. Yeah. And I want to think of somebody who realistically I could talk to because there's a lot of transfer idols out there. Disease people famous disease people with huge brains. Yep. But right now, today, who I am actively trying to have this 30 minute conversation with you. Thank
Eric Girouard 44:48
you so much. I appreciate that. You did not have to say my name.
Lucas Jablonski 44:53
It was this podcast. No, but there's so Yeah, cuz there's that. It's like I said, I'm a real real right at approach. So there's a guy, his name is gaming. Gary Vaynerchuk.
Oh, yeah, I'm
Eric Girouard 45:10
never heard of them. No, just fucking kidding. Okay.
Lucas Jablonski 45:14
Oh my God. He is I would love to pick his brain. About my next step in the business that we're just discussed.Yep. What he thinks I should do. Oh, okay, to make this thing fucking explode. Whoo. I
Eric Girouard 45:31
like that. That's through, like, All right. All right, we'll see if we can tag him in this and make that app. Do it. Sweet. I love that. No, but I'm a huge fan. I was joking. I fucking listen to all of this stuff early on. To be honest, not so much anymore. But like three, four years ago, I listened to every video. It took almost all of his marketing strategies and tips and in just implemented them. He's worked. He's a work. Yeah, they work. They work. Yeah. And so like your will have even talked on this episode. We'll get to next but like your tech chat, like, do they work? Yeah. So okay. And then last and final question. So you're working all the time you got this business got family got a bunch of kids running around, you got now a place where you're able to unplug, which is rarely never, and not unplug and go home to like, hang out with your wife and maybe watch a movie. But when you're able to like do something that like you're like, I love it's outside of what you love, which is your daily job. What's your release? And why?
Lucas Jablonski 46:34
I have a couple. Oh, all right. So music is one huh? I fucking love to just sit on the couch with a cold beer and just write a song play a song with the guitar the piano that I played like 12 instruments. So this is part of my whole my post communist polish that was a part of the training like as a kid you practice you practice. Yeah, yeah, but I love playing music. I love listening to music. I love writing music. Dude, that's one thing. Also, my wife is a concert violinist. She's amazing. She's I mean, I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty good at music. She's
Eric Girouard 47:17
next level. She's next level. Yeah, yeah. I love that.
Lucas Jablonski 47:22
And outside of that to really like getaway, like, leave the house. Just have my own time. Like nobody can bother me. mountain biking.
Eric Girouard 47:32
That's right. That's right. Yeah, that's right. I've seen that. The Great. Yeah.
Lucas Jablonski 47:36
I love to just go out that. Luckily, five minutes from my house is Lynn woods, which is an amazing National Park. Oh, yeah. And they have crazy gnarly trails there. Yep. And I just love like, go before work. I'll just go there for 30 minutes and ride your nature. Like the birds and this, like leaves are changing. Now. That to me is like the best way to start today with a clear head fresh air. Yeah, just alone time. Think about what you're doing for the day. Think about what you're gonna do today. Just get energy and love it. That is that's my that's my release. Right? Just love it be alone.
Eric Girouard 48:12
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. unplugged from the family too.
Lucas Jablonski 48:14
Yeah, I definitely. Usually like when I do music stuff. It's like my kids go to bed at 730 every night. So my wife and I have this thing where, from 730 to like, 1130. When we go to bed, we get to live without kids. So that's when I usually do the music stuff, or we watch a movie or whatever. But yeah, but like just my own time. Mountain Biking is sweet. I love it.
Eric Girouard 48:36
I love it. Lucas, co owner of lighthouse wood works here in East Boston. Just want to thank you so much one for taking time out of your crazy day in your schedule to do this podcast. Sounds like we have at least five more podcasts. Life, Liberty, the pursuit of happiness. But dude, really, really appreciate it and no, it's been great man. And we're gonna we're gonna tag you guys in all week. And I'm sure a bunch of folks are gonna want to reach out to you directly and hear more about your story. Could they work for you? We always take free work. Alright, so kind of the best way to get an internship or started is to is to work for free which which I've done in the past and I recommend it for a period of time you can do forever but you want to get your foot in the door. I just put a tick tock up about that with an audio line. Alright, and I got roasted. We'll give you some love. And now this is good. We got more in store but thank you for the time and we'll look
Lucas Jablonski co-founded Lighthouse Woodworks with his childhood buddy, Daniel. What started out as a small operation, Lighthouse is a quickly growing woodworking company, who’s bread and butter is high-end home furnishings.
For Lucas, woodworking runs in the family, growing up in Denver, Colorado with his father a cabinet maker, he was always surrounded by woodworking. As a kid, Lucas spent the majority of his summer working alongside his father. Throughout high school, he quickly learned how much money there was in this business, taking on large contracts that would really pay out for him and his buddies.
By 18 however, the perils of being the assumed family business torch passing took their effect. Where Lucas was interested in a wide range of opportunities, his father was not keen on the idea of Lucas not taking over. Being pushed further away, and torn by the tension, Lucas set out traveling across the country. Picking up odd job after odd job before landing in New York. From there he was able to hone in his craftsman skills all while learning the ins and out of business.
Soon Lucas found himself settling with what was looking like a long term gig, it wasn’t until that same job tried to lock him into what would’ve been a career ending contract, Lucas jumped into his dream of launching Lighthouse.
From his early childhood years around woodwork, to the later span of his career, it’s clear why Lucas has found success as a master woodworker. His story, however, runs deeper than that. Tune in to hear how all the layers that made Lighthouse what it is today came to be, and the insights Lucas brings to the table for young people looking to delve deeper into the trades.