lower corner logo and headshot

Client Name: Carl Parker Hansen
Business Name: Lower Corner Millworks, LLC
Business Website: www.lowercornermillworks.com
Industry: Woodworking
Location: Sandwich, NH
SBDC Advisor's Name: Ed Miles

Carl Parker Hansen (Parker) of Lower Corner Millworks, LLC got his first taste of what would become his future when he was just a child.  Parker fondly recalls pulling nails and holding a flashlight for his father as they renovated their 250-year-old home. With his father a cabinet maker and mother a seamstress, who both worked for themselves, Parker was exposed early on to the freedom and flexibility of owning your own business. But, while creativity and working with his hands was in his blood, Parker initially turned away from what came naturally to him.

A teenage Parker grumpily exclaimed, “I don’t want to be a woodworker.” So, he ventured off from his home in Sandwich, NH to college in Vermont where he studied Environmental Studies and Elementary Education.  Upon graduation, he moved to Portland, Maine where he planned to complete a graduate program for teaching, while working as a professional bartender or waiter. Disillusioned with the restaurant and bar scene, he got back into woodworking and found Pond Cove Millworks, where he worked for five years.  “I fell back in love with it,” says Parker.  “Something I did as kid, idolizing my father doing it, and now I was able to do it.”

He later moved back to Sandwich, NH and discovered there was a void he could fill.  Jokingly referring to Sandwich as “a town of woodworkers and yoga instructors,” he took notice that many of the woodworkers, including his father, were retiring, or approaching retirement. With encouragement from family and friends, confidence in his abilities, and an investment in a CNC machine, Parker took the leap to open Lower Corner Millworks in February 2021, building cabinets, furniture, games, and crafts.

“I love working on a different project every day. I can be making a set of cabinets for someone on Monday then making 3D topographical maps on Tuesday,” says Parker.

Starting and running Lower Corners Millworks though, has not been without its share of challenges.  Parker grew up watching his parents run their small business, but he never truly knew what went on behind the scenes. Just to get Lower Corner Millworks off the ground was a feat; one in which Parker was glad to have the help of NH SBDC and his NH SBDC business advisor, Ed Miles.

lower corner table

Parker worked with Wentworth Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO) for his small business loan, and to qualify, he needed to provide financial projections and a balance sheet. Parker states, “I'm a woodworker by trade, not a financial advisor, so I was going to need help if I was going to accurately provide this information.”  He was put in touch with NH SBDC through WEDCO and was immediately reassured.  Ed and the team at SBDC provided him a “crash course” in budgeting, bookkeeping and financial projections.  After just a few meetings with Ed, Parker had the resources needed to provide WEDCO the required documents and was able to get the loan from WEDCO. He also gained the confidence to move forward and run his business efficiently.

Parker reflects, “When I thought I had watched every ‘small business startup’ video on YouTube, I was ready to call it quits before I had even registered my LLC. After talking with NH SBDC, I knew there were untapped resources out there to help me get off the ground with confidence.”

Running the business after opening also presented its challenges.  The biggest, as Parker puts it, is “juggling all the tasks.” Being a one man show, he has to be bookkeeper, manager, timekeeper, marketer, HR, materials receiver, builder, and so on. For support, Parker continues to work with Ed and SBDC, where he is connected to invaluable resources. Ed suggested he apply for SBDC’s FAME (Financial Accelerator Marketing Expeditor) program, a CARES Act funded program that offers five consultant hours at no cost to SBDC clients. Parker connected with a marketing agency, and Ed also helped him apply for a grant from WEDCO so Parker could continue to work with the agency after the five free hours. 

“Ed was absolutely huge,” says Parker.  “I think I would still be trying to figure out what a balance sheet is a year later, if it wasn’t for him.” Parker adds,

“They (SBDC) normalized the ability to start a small business.  You think of it as a daunting task. They made it less scary. They’re knowledgeable people that want to see you succeed.  It’s not just a job for them.”

In the future, Parker hopes to remain a small owner-operator business and is looking to create a few full-time jobs in the next couple of years.  He shares, “I know I don't want to be behind the scenes at my company.  I got into this business because I love what I do!”

As for his reward for all the hard work?  Parker says it is seeing people react to his work. “It’s humbling and pretty freaking cool,” says Parker, adding, “A lot of it though is just the fact that I’ve done it!”