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Finding Your Best Employees Where You Least Expect It

Posted on Jan 30, 2018
Lamon Luther

TC had been homeless for 15 years when his path crossed with Brian Preston’s in 2012. He was living in a tent city in Georgia looking for a hand up- not a handout, and Brian knew exactly how he could help.

Brian Preston is not shy about telling people his Atlanta-area woodworking company, Lamon Luther, is predominantly staffed with formerly homeless people. Preston experienced firsthand how devastating the housing crash and economic downturn could be; he and his wife lost their first business and were forced out of their home in the downturn. But, he says, he was one of the lucky ones who eventually found work.

Many others were not as fortunate. While eating lunch one day Brian overheard talk about a community of homeless men living near an Atlanta suburb. Brian decided to pay the group a visit. “I found men with carpentry and woodworking skills living in a makeshift community in the woods.” Brian began dropping off food items and supplies, but inquired as to what the men really needed. The answer was simple they said. They needed jobs. With no addresses, no cell phones, and no licenses, they needed a way to make an income. They needed hope. So, Brian hired one gentleman named TC, and the rest is history. Today, Lamon Luther is a 20,0000 square-foot facility located in Villa Rica, Georgia with nearly a dozen employees, all of whom have faced homelessness.  

Since working at Lamon Luther, many of the men have been able to save enough money to move out of the woods. “I have seen firsthand the tremendous impact of having a job and earning a living wage,” Preston says. “I have seen families rebuilt.”

That inspiration and dedication is also evident in the design and production of Lamon Luther’s signature tables and furniture pieces. The firm takes reclaimed wood, including shipping pallets and barn lumber, and turns it into farm tables, chairs, mirrors, side tables and more. Available in custom sizes and shapes, they can be purchased online at LamonLuther.com, or through retailers such as West Elm and Williams Sonoma.

Lamon Luther furniture

“We provide large scale design build-outs for businesses such as restaurants and retailers, to single custom-made pieces,” he says.

As the business grew, Preston turned to technology to speed productivity and provide consistency in the manufacturing process. High up on the list was TigerStop. “TigerStop has been a great partner to us. I have always admired their products,” Preston says.

“We were looking for something to speed up production. One area that was particularly seen as a bottleneck in need of help was the task of measuring wood. Our guys measured everything by hand.” In addition to being time consuming, it was not foolproof.

“We reached out to TigerStop for help. Their solution was a miter saw measuring system called SawGear,” he says. “With it, the user dials in the measurement in fraction or decimal form, up to 16 feet long, and it moves to position for a perfectly cut part – every time.”

miter saw measuring system

In addition to helping automate the shop, Preston praises the SawGear by TigerStop equipment for its user-friendliness. “We have had the SawGear in place in our production area since December 2015 and already we have seen a dramatic improvement in throughput. The SawGear takes away the need to set and adjust, the way you do for manual fences. It also saves material because it cuts down on the need to redo a piece, and it speeds the process.”

The material savings are key for Preston. “We are trying to put all our profits into job creation. We are all about reclaiming materials and keeping them out of a landfill.”

Lamon Luther is also about reclaiming lives. “Every day is a new adventure,” Preston says. “I am able to do something that helps people reclaim their lives and dignity. I see them come to life every day as they put new and old skills to work. We get to build things here. It’s a lot of fun.”

 

 

TigerStop believes that hope is a job. Learn more by watching the below video: 

 

 

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