Scott Phillips - Ties to Hartzell Companies

Scott Phillips is in his fourth decade of woodworking. He started in his father's shop when he was eleven. The first moneymaking projects were air-dried walnut shelves and boxes. These projects lead into furniture and restoration commissions. Today Scott has a full-time woodworking enterprise that is founded around his degree in Forestry. "If you want to build great furniture you have to respect the woods," he says. Scott is actively involved in habitat reforestation and riparian restoration projects. A master woodworker with a thorough knowledge of his craft, Scott's reverence for the intricacies of wood and its possibilities has helped make The American Woodshop a favorite among public television audiences over the past 17 years. ( Woodshop).
 The Hartzell name in the lumber industry is huge in America. He said it is still amazing how many Hartzell tags he will still see when he goes in shops. He has met woodworkers from all over the U.S. He knew there was a need for a practical guide for woodworking in America. That's why he started the American Woodshop TV show. His goal was to keep it simple and keep it doable for the beginners. Anyone could do his projects. He has filmed 312 shows for PBS TV so far. 250 million people every year have watched his shows. Scott likes to have guests appear on his show that have a story to tell about woodworking. All Scott's episodes can be viewed for free on the American Woodshop website.

Scott started coming to Hartzell's with his father in 1960 when he was only five years old. His father was a veneer timber buyer. His father worked for Hartzell's for 38 years. His father loved woodworking and would build things at home. If Scott didn't have homework to do, he would be in their shop at home with his dad building something. He said he will never forget the smell of walnut – it has a unique aroma. His dad would pay him out of his own pocket to end-coat the logs. That was the beginning for Scott of working with walnut. Scott went to study forestry and marketing at Michigan State. After getting his degree, he was hired by Bill Hartzell to work at Hartzell's in 1978. Bill wanted him to work in sales because of his marketing degree. But Scott wanted to be a veneer timber buyer like his father. He loved wood and working outside so Bill Hartzell agreed he could be a timber buyer. He worked here for 8 years. He left Hartzell's because the veneer mill shut down.

The first three years of buying veneer timber were very good when Scott worked with Hartzell's. Then the prices in walnut and white oak went through the roof. The Germans and the Japanese were paying 3x market rate for the logs and the supply that would have lasted decades in the domestic industry vanished in three years (for veneer timber).

He worked with Jim Hartzell Sr. and Jim Hartzell Jr. at American Woodcrafters – retail store. He realized while working there that there was a need to educate people in woodworking. A company called Shopsmith approached Scott and offered him a job as a senior product manager. Scott agreed and then became their marketing director. Scott reorganized Shopsmith to be geared towards the hobbyist market not the industrialist market. Scott left Shopsmith in the early 90's. Scott still saw a void in educating people on woodworking. There was a downturn in woodworking in high schools. He wanted to educate people in specialty woodworking. Scott's passion for woodworking made him want to educate as many people as he could.

There is an embargo today on key veneers: padauk, purple heart, and bubinga. This timber was coming from S. America, Central America, and Africa. Now these places have been hit so hard, along with our domestic markets, but veneer has become so expensive because of supply and demand. The supply just isn't out there today. However, as solid wood becomes harder and harder to get top grades, people become more and more interested in veneer.

Scott is very thankful to everything that Hartzell's did for him. What started as a 5 year old in the log yard with his father, ended up being part of the process from the finding the wood in the forest, buying the wood, to the finished furniture product, Today Hartzell is still a huge part of who Scott is. Scott says he has "sawdust is in his blood."

Back in the day timber was king and walnut was the best in Ohio and Indiana. Hartzell realized that walnut was king and it was plentiful and Hartzell took advantage of that natural resource.

When Scott left Hartzell's, he wrote down 39 goals that he wanted to accomplish in his lifetime. In the top 10 goals, he wanted to build his own house, build all his own furniture, and teach practical woodworking on a TV show. He has checked those goals off his bucket list because they have been accomplished. "It is very satisfying and rewarding to know that I have accomplished these goals. When you work with wood and your hands, it's very relaxing and rewarding."

There will always be a market for wood/veneer. With the technology that we have now, the internet plays a huge role in pricing. With the veneer becoming scarcer, the pricing has gone up and become very competitive. We all have to do more for the environment to keep the wood/veneer going. "Plant trees, if you don't have room in your yard, plant one in your neighbor's yard". We all have to be smarter with our natural resources. Be involved with the water shed management. Help with river clean ups. The number one thing he gets out of environment cleanup is seeing Eagles along the river. We haven't had eagles in Miami Valley in over 100 years but four years ago they started showing up along our rivers. 90% of eagles' diet is fish and in order to have fish you need clean water.

Scott's mantra is "Make it Better". "Whatever You Do, Make it Better". Use fewer pesticides, plant more trees, use fewer fertilizers, use native grasses, and plan your landscapes better. The water quality will improve and we all will benefit from this. Robert Hartzell was a visionary and loved the environment and always wanted people to plant more trees and would work with the land owners when we would buy their trees.