Bringing the world to Cowichan: Live Edge Design taking world by storm

John Lore took a chance in the 1990s when he accepted his wife Dorothy’s challenge to establish a successful business.

Editor’s note: Cowichan Valley businesses are making their mark not just in our backyard, but all over the world with their unique products and services. Over the coming weeks in a series we’re calling “Bringing the world to the Cowichan Valley” we will meet some of the Valley’s best and brightest shining stars who have made a name for themselves both here at home, and abroad.

John Lore took a chance in the 1990s when he accepted his wife Dorothy’s challenge to establish a successful business in the Cowichan Valley within five years.

Lore, owner of Duncan’s Live Edge Design, did just that with a flair.

He now operates his business with a staff of 28, which include millers, kiln operators, woodworkers, finishers and office staff, at his wood-furniture design and manufacturing centre on Mearns Road.

Live Edge Design specializes in building custom-made wood furniture, mainly with local maple and walnut trees, for residential and hospitality industry markets across North America.

“We can build any kind of custom-made furniture, but the majority of our markets are for table and counter tops,” Lore said in his small office, situated on the top floor of the manufacturing centre.

“Our business is growing all the time and we are always asked what our growth projections are. We’re not against growth, but our main target right now is stability and pleasing the customers we have.”

Lore is originally from Alberta and worked in the oil patch for many years.

He said he saw his future when he worked briefly with a furniture-design company in Edmonton.

“I just loved it,” he said.

“My wife Dorothy is an ultrasound technician and was offered a job at the Cowichan District Hospital. She said she would cover the bills and gave me five years to build a business in the area. I thought it was a generous offer.”

Lore said that after growing up in Alberta, he immediately fell in love with Vancouver Island’s forests and saw value in salvaging trees brought down by storms or left behind by forest and construction companies.

He initially set up Pickle Ridge Rustic Carpentry in Whippletree Junction making furniture from small alder logs found along roads and highways, but it was his recognition of the potential of downed maple trees to be cut in slabs to create beautiful counter and table tops that finally spawned Live Edge Design.

“About 70 per cent of our business is with the hospitality industry and we’ve completed projects for hotel chains, including Hilton and Four Seasons, across the continent,” Lore said.

But Live Edge Design’s impact on the local economy is also far reaching, and the company depends on markets in the Valley for supplies, workers and even caterers for its many functions for staff and their families, and wineries to help supply local gifts to Live Edge Design’s far-flung customers.

Lore said he is always looking at ways to contribute to the local community, and set up a Santa’s workshop last Christmas that made wooden toys for charities that deal mainly with children.

“We always try to be generous and give back to the community,” he said.

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