Jim Kachel always knew he wanted to work with his hands. What he didn’t know was that someday he would own his own business. “At a young age I watched my father finish our basement and thought it was cool,” Kachel says. “Every day I would see something new and see the physical change.” Projects like that are what inspired Kachel to pursue carpentry.
At age 17 he started working for a builder, and after high school, pursued vocational training at Hennepin Technical College. Throughout his time in school, he continued to work for builders. “I was fortunate to work with a couple of old-timers who instilled in me to do it right the first time,” Kachel says. “I learned that lesson at a young age, and I carry it with me to this day.”
He continued working for builders, which brought him to a cabinetry maker in Rochester. He followed that up with a move to Indianapolis and returned to Minnesota in 1998 to work for high-end homebuilder Charles Cudd.
Kachel and his wife have raised three boys, and at the time he worked for Charles Cudd, he was happy having steady work and being an everyday employee. It afforded him the opportunity to work normal hours and spend time with his family, something that can be tricky if you are in business for yourself, particularly as a contractor.
When Kachel’s wife turned 40, he surprised her with a custom cabinet. She encouraged him to start his own business, and he began a part-time shop out of his own garage, all while continuing to work for an interior trim and cabinetry crew. With the children getting older, he finally decided to shift his focus to his own business full time, continuing to work out of his garage.
In 2002, he took on a business partner, Scott Ferguson, and the two of them opened up Wood Wonders Supply & Design Inc. in the small town of Lake St. Croix Beach, east of Woodbury, near the Wisconsin border. Together, they run the business with Ferguson focusing on most of the business matters and Kachel dedicating his time to the woodworking.
Most of their work comes from creating custom cabinets for kitchens and other parts of the home. Kachel estimates about 30 percent of their business also comes from crafting high-end furniture such as desks and bedroom sets.
With the unique work Kachel and Ferguson do, all their business comes from word-of-mouth, recommendations and repeat customers. In fact, the duo doesn’t advertise Wood Wonders at all. Both being from Woodbury, many of their customers come from the community.
Local realtor Kim Ziton had Kachel redo the woodwork in her entire house. “There wasn’t a room he didn’t touch,” Ziton says. She was impressed by the way that Kachel drew everything by hand, something he does for all his projects. Where most people in his business use computer programs, Kachel still prefers the art of a hand drawing. “He is an artist,” Ziton says.
Ziton came across Kachel’s work through a referral from her brother, who works in the construction industry. She had also seen Kachel’s work in other homes around Woodbury. “If anybody I’m working with wants cabinets, he would be the only person we would hire,” Ziton says.
It’s high praise, but not uncommon for Kachel. He has carved out his own niche in the woodworking industry.