Building a Family Business
by Niki Kourofsky
The Post family of Au Sable Forks—Larry, Joann, Ryan and Jillian—spend a lot of time with each other. And it’s not just because they like to. As L. Post Rustics, they gather daily in a 1,500-square-foot workshop to craft heirloom-quality furniture. Each member brings a different talent to the table; together, the result is one of a kind. Since the business began in 2004, they’ve won both the People’s Choice and the Maker’s Choice awards at the Adirondack Museum’s prestigious Rustic Furniture Fair, held each September in Blue Mountain Lake.
Larry Post was the first of the clan to take up the hammer. After a traumatic brain injury in 2003, he used woodworking as a form of therapy, crafting cabinets and guide boats. Then, he says, he “began fooling around in rustic.” His portfolio now includes everything from twiggy grandfather clocks to intricately carved built-in bunk beds. Each piece is a tailored fit for the customer—the Posts often visit clients’ homes to get a feel for individual tastes and lifestyles.
Joann, who worked 22 years as a nurse at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, has always been an artist at heart. So when she got the chance to work full time with her husband, she jumped right in. “It was my one opportunity to use the art I love,” she says. Joann contributes original oil paintings to some pieces, and also works on design and decorative flourishes. Larry admits his work was a bit square and predictable before his creative wife joined the operation. “Joann came in and started bending my mind,” he says.
Ryan, 29, adds antlers as needed and helps his father with construction—he’s “really good at piecing gnarly wood together,”says Larry. For Ryan, choosing a career as a craftsman means he’s building something better than a 401(k). “We’re making something that’s going to be here after I’m long gone—one hundred, two hundred years from now, it’s going to be around,” he says.
Twenty-five-year-old Jillian was the last to join the team, after graduating from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh with a major in environmental science and a minor in studio art. She carves flora and fauna into pillars, door panels and more. Joann says Jillian is a stickler for scientific accuracy—but sometimes she’s just a stick-maker. When a piece calls for the perfect fit, she’s even made pine branches out of cherry. Sometimes she asks herself, Why am I carving sticks? Even so, it’s evident she shares the same passion as the rest of her family. “We’re in competition with ourselves to see how much better we can get,” says Joann. “We love what we do.”
The Posts don’t have a storefront at their workshop—most of their pieces are commissioned—but you can check out their work at the Lake Placid Lodge and at the Cornerstone Rustic and Craft Gallery, also in Lake Placid. Or you can meet the whole crew at this year’s Adirondack Museum Rustic Furniture Fair, in Blue Mountain Lake, September 14–15. Read more about that gathering in our September/October issue, on newsstands September 24.