July 26th, 2013

Jukebox craftsman up for award

Jason Michie’s latest project celebrates the coming together of age-old craftsmanship and the latest technology.  His jukebox, in the finest Wurlitzer tradition, showcases the distinctive grain of macrocarpa while drawing on all the download capabilities of an in-built PC.

‘I really like retro furniture,’ explains Jason.  ‘But I wanted to keep it modern.  Mix it up a bit. ‘ The commercial potential is certainly there but in the short term, Jason’s hoping his jukebox will win the support of judges in this year’s Forest and Wood Industry National Training Awards. 

Having entered the Trainee of the Year competition in 2012, Jason feels he’s learnt to be more rigorous in how he presents ‘the full package’ to judges, not just the finished product itself. It’s obvious that Jason draws huge satisfaction from a job well done. 

Now a fully qualified furniture maker, he has only a year to go until he completes his Level 4 Furniture/Craft Finishing qualification which he started during his apprenticeship training. Employed by Naturally Wood, a family owned business based in Waiuku, Jason is involved in all aspects of production from sourcing hardware to cutting and finishing. 

While the company specialises in childcare centre design, the product mix also includes furniture, bar fit-outs, solid timber kitchens and vanities, as well as one-off custom pieces.  High quality output is a major point of differentiation that distinguishes Naturally Wood from its offshore competitors.  But competition also means deadlines can be tight. ‘Sometimes I have two or three jobs on the go at once. 

As I’ve built up my skills, I’ve been able to offer more.  It’s helped to get the finishing qualification side of things as well.  Now I can do 100% of any job.’ Building up his skills over the last few years has also helped Jason improve in other areas. ‘I’ve become a lot more confident in what I do.  When I first started out, I was quite shy and that held me back from a lot of things.  Coming straight out of school and into a business was a definite eye-opener.  In the last few years everything has just clicked into place.’

Jason credits his school’s Gateway programme of work experience with getting him work ready. ‘I took furniture making at school and that was pretty much the reason I was going to school.  I got a couple of awards for it.’  Jason had found his passion. 

Having secured a full year’s work experience at Naturally Wood, he was thrilled to be offered a full time position as apprentice at the end of the year. ‘I love the problem solving. Every day I have a different problem to solve.  And variety.  Because we cover a wide range of products, it keeps my job interesting.’ In terms of future plans, Jason would like to specialise in interior boat finishing. 

But this craftsman is in no hurry to move on with any great haste. He says with confidence, ‘We’ll see what doors open.’