Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 30
product photos courtesy Ortmann Woodcraft
Left: Jon and Debbie Ortmann mill the wood used for their
Missouri-made products. Top: While wood is their mainstay, the
couple also uses antlers for products. Above: The Hunter's Edition
Bullet Pen comes with a functional bolt-action click mechanism.
Couple creates functional art from reclaimed wood
by Heather Berry | email@example.com
tacks of reclaimed wood sit in the back of
the shop like Lincoln Logs, each piece waiting to be given a beautiful life once more.
"It takes four to six years to get the wood
dried so it's ready for us to make something," says
Jon Ortmann. "Then we mill it and
cut it down into blanks for pens, cutting boards or anything else we think
will be beautiful and functional."
He and his wife, Debbie, are the energetic duo behind Ortmann Woodcraft in
Patton. They design and create handmade
products from wood salvaged around the
state. Sustainable exotic woods are purchased from family-run businesses.
"I call it 'functional art,' " says Jon,
noting customers deal directly with them, keeping
quality high and costs down.
The Missouri natives started their business in
2014. Apprenticing with a cabinetmaker between
high school and college was Jon's only serious foray
into woodworking. His career path actually led him
into criminal justice, while Debbie graduated with a
ﬁne arts degree.
To relax from his days serving as a police ofﬁcer, Jon got back into woodworking as a hobby. The
couple began turning wooden pens on a lathe.
The Ortmanns, whose business is served by
Black River Electric Cooperative, say those ﬁrst
pens went to family and friends. Eventually word
got out and orders began rolling in. Before long,
Ortmann Woodcraft was born.
"Those pens were and still are the
best useable business cards we could ever have
given away," Jon recalls. Orders were coming in
quickly enough that a bigger business seemed feasible. With some gentle urging from Debbie, the
couple stayed awake one night and hammered out
a seven-year business plan, created a website and
ﬁled the paperwork.
"We didn't really know anything about running a business, but we knew we'd found
our niche," says Debbie.
The couple began selling pens, shaving sets and bottle openers at shows
around the state. But it was a day
several years ago at Cape Girardeau
farmers market which propelled the
made-in-Missouri business ahead
"You never know who is taking a
card," says Jon, 31. "Someone told
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt about our pens, which soon led
to a phone call I nearly hung up on."
At the time, Sen. Blunt served as a member of
the Joint Congressional Committee for the Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies.
"A couple of weeks later, we got a call from a lady
saying she would be interested in purchasing 1,000
pens for the inauguration," recalls Jon. "I probably
did laugh while I was on the phone, I don't recall."
Once reality set in, designs ﬂew back and forth
for approval. When a walnut pen and design was
chosen, the couple only needed to wait until after
the election to learn whose name they would laser
engrave on each pen. The ﬁnal contract ended up
being for 500 pens and 400 wooden letter openers.
Jon and Debbie say business was good to that
point, but after Sen. Blunt mentioned Ortmann
Woodcraft during the inauguration on national television, things changed overnight.
"We were attending the inauguration and had
planned to stay in the area a few days to visit family," recalls Jon. "But within 10 minutes of being
mentioned, our website got 46,000 hits and crashed
because of the orders. We headed home that day."
While pens are the mainstay of their work, the
duo will try to make whatever customers request.
The best part is if someone only wants one handmade pen, the price doesn't go up.
"Our pens start at $29.99," Jon says, noting
every one is unique. The company currently offers
70 species of wood for products. Sometimes buyers
ask if they can provide wood for their pen, and the
Ortmann's are happy to do so when possible.
Hunters especially like that antlers from their
game can be used for pens and shaving kit handles.
"We've been told we helped keep a family from tearing apart because we were able to make pens from
antlers they were ﬁghting over," says Jon.
Future plans for the business include adding a
lumber mill so Jon and Debbie can cut larger pieces
of wood for tables and mantels.
Jon says they're also excited to be partnering
with other talented Missouri artists, like Kohler
Forge in St. Charles, which creates unique handles
for their food trays. Another, J.P. Designs in Millersville, makes the metal legs needed for slab tables.
"We're grateful to be making items that we think
are gorgeous, made-in-Missouri and something you
can use every day," adds Jon. "High-end, functional
art at every price point, made just for you."
For more information call 636-208-5062, visit www.
ortmannwoodcraft.com or follow them on Facebook.
Ortmann Woodcraft's hand-turned
pens are worthy of passing on from
generation to generation.
RURAL MISSOURI | JUNE 2019
Rural Missouri - June 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - June 2019
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Intro
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Contents
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 4
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 5
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 6
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 7
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - 8
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Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - June 2019 - Cover4