Antonio Querin of Knotted Wood Designs in Calgary
Antonio’s biggest woodwork customers were always hotels and restaurants – but as those clients scaled back operations, he’s had to search for new sources of revenue. This crisis has offered an important lesson in diversifying your business, and Antonio is successfully discovering new ways to do it.
“The one thing I love about our city and country is that we are a resilient people. I’ve loved watching how people are adapting their businesses and inventing new ways of doing things.” - Antonio Querin, owner of Knotted Wood Designs.
Antonio started Knotted Wood Designs while working as a server. He’d been playing around in his grandfather’s woodshop making cutting boards and brought some into work. “One of my managers liked them, so I pitched making their next batch of charcuterie and steak boards,” he recalls. “Three years later, I have my own business making custom wood products for hotels and restaurants.”
Antonio’s incredible craftsmanship helped him establish a successful roster of clients in the hospitality industry. But these were some of the hardest hit businesses by COVID-19, and he knew he’d have to diversify.
“It’s making me realize that we need to be less dependent upon a single sector as a customer base,” he says. “With many of the brands not planning on re-opening until the new year, we’re trying to network and offer our services to people through Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, and word-of-mouth.”
He’s also been picking up small jobs for home and yard updates, such as shelving solutions and raised planters.
“Just using the tools I have to make something different.”
Antonio misses the face-to-face meetings that used to be such a big part of his job. “Just that basic human interaction that we really take for granted. Especially in my business where I work so closely with my customers.” He says there’s still a need for woodcrafts, but there will be a bigger push to move products online and through retailers.
In the meantime, Antonio has been admirably supporting his community. His second business, Spirits With Smoke, has partnered with FeedingYYC to get food to Calgary families in need. “We are so proud to be able to work with so many cool restaurants and businesses towards a common goal,” he says.
Antonio is just as eager to support the hospitality industry as a customer once it’s safe to do so – and he’s confident fellow Canadians will show the same support.
“This too will pass,” he says. “Breathe. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
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