Woodpecker Home About Woodpecker Woodpecker Design Gallery Woodpecker Clients Links Contact Woodpecker

Woodpecker Enterprises Inc.

About Woodpecker Enterprises: History


Woodpecker Enterprises

Beginnings: Lean-to shed


Ramsey Terhune, Owner, Woodpecker Enterprises

Ramsey Terhune

Woodpecker Logo As you might imagine, with a name like Woodpecker, our roots are in the woods of North Carolina. Our first step forward was from the ankle-deep wood shavings on a dirt-floored lean-to shed to the wide pine boards of a tobacco storage barn, which we rescued from the flood plain of Carolina’s Jordan Lake in the mid-70’s. At the time, we were a two-person shop, proudly building what we called “contemporary hardwood furniture.” Our founder was a talented and well-educated young Englishman, Peter J. Laughton, who had taught French at Hollins College, and Queens College. After a brief stint in law school, and as a diversion typical of the late-60’s counterculture, he started our business with the name Woodpecker Enterprises in January 1972 (Never mind his unfamiliarity with our American “Woody Woodpecker” and his signature cackle). The name and the chuckles it invokes remain 37 years later!

Woodpecker Logo The following fall, I joined Peter as a part time apprentice while contemplating applications to graduate schools in architecture. It was a good chemistry. Peter’s creativity was enhanced by practical woodworking hand skills and training learned in English “public schools”. I had recently graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in sculpture and design and felt compelled to challenge our work with a critical eye, while learning to fine-tune a hand plane and cut dovetail joints. Always interested in things visual and mechanical, I became increasingly focused on furniture design and craftsmanship. Peter, on the other hand, continued his craving for new and exciting ventures and eventually moved to Massachusetts to pursue drawing, painting and inventing.

Woodpecker Logo In 1977, I bought the business and moved it to an abandoned fiberglass manufacturing facility that had succumbed to the oil embargo of the early 70’s. It was a new beginning with an enthusiastic team that had grown to five, plus a menagerie of three dogs and a shop cat that kept us mouse-free. We suddenly had ten times the shop space of the old barn and a thousand ideas of things we wanted to build. I wrote a grant application to the newly formed Department of Energy for a solar powered kiln for drying hardwoods. We didn’t get the grant. I submitted a design for a laminated walnut rocking chair to the prestigious Daphne Furniture Design Competition. We didn’t get an award. But these lost opportunities only served to sweeten other successes we were beginning to experience. We had our first taste of the contract furniture market when we built fixtures for the New York, Chicago and Burlington, NC showrooms of Apparel, Inc., the maker of “Peaches & Cream” children’s clothing. The contact had come through building furniture for the company president, who lived in nearby Chapel Hill at the time. With an increasing number of contract furniture jobs, we continued making high-end residential furniture and cabinets. We designed and built beds, dressers, tables, chairs, china cabinets, entertainment centers, sofas & love seats, cradles & high chairs, kitchens, spiral staircases, and even a small addition to a house.

Woodpecker Logo By the end of the ‘80’s, we found ourselves focused on the corporate furniture market, which best utilized the craftsmanship and experience we had developed over the years. In September of 1991, we had a contract with IBM to build a series of conference tables that we had developed for them integrating an overhead projector into the surface of the table. Their beautiful new marketing center at Westin in Cary, NC was also to have twelve executive briefing rooms with conference tables custom built by a German firm. IBM had scheduled an early December opening for both an international contingent of the World Bank and an entourage with the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In October, IBM received a telex from the German manufacturer stating that they would be unable to meet the December deadline. IBM’s architect came to us with the biggest challenge we had faced to date: could we re-engineer and produce 125 rectangular and curved executive briefing tables, in addition to the projector tables already under contract, before the opening? We quickly went about contacting our suppliers and other trusted manufacturing resources that might be in a position to commit to IBM’s six-week deadline. We obtained the assurances we needed, despite the holiday season, and made our commitment to IBM. Metal legs were ordered from Italy, table assembly hardware from Germany and a Georgia distributor, matched maple veneer faces from High Point, and banded panel cores from Tennessee. Two local shops helped us edge-band and sand table tops and produce table rails, while we veneered sixty curved modesty panels in five different radiuses. In the end, all the parts came together on time for us to complete all the finishing in-house. IBM expressed their gratitude to us by hosting our entire company to an elegant luncheon in their new facility and presenting us a framed “letter of thanks.”

Woodpecker Logo Today our work continues in the custom contract furniture and architectural woodworking markets with many well established relationships with facilities managers, designers, architects, and contractors. Our roots in fine residential furniture remain, as there is always an interesting piece or two in progress, alongside the commercial projects. We welcome visitors who might want to see what we are making and tour our shop. Our 12,000 sq. ft. facility sits on eight acres surrounded by Jordan Lake land. Those who stop by often comment on what an ideal workplace setting it is. We think so, too. Please call for an appointment (1-800-359-7073).

Ramsey Terhune, Owner, Woodpecker Enterprises

Site Developed by Dimension Studio Dimension Studio Logo