Ups(tairs) and Downs(tairs): A Grove Process Interview

We wanted to share a little about how Grove operates day to day in our work space. Because we share a building with several other creative businesses and individuals, our workshop is divided between two different floors. In this charming, brick, industrial building, our woodshop is on the very bottom level, and our laser studio is located on the very top floor. That’s five flights between the upstairs and downstairs teams. We only use the industrial lift when we have something heavy to carry, so we all have super strong legs. “Legs like trees,” we like to say!

I asked our general manager Galen and our woodshop production manager Sean to add some insight into how they keep everything together, without being two places at once:

How do you manage two production areas?
Galen - “It used to be a challenge but like many of the hurdles we’ve faced over the life of Grove, we’ve adapted and we’re working as hard as we can to unify our production team.”
Sean - “You have to constantly remind yourself to get in contact...we meet every morning...we levitate to each other out the windows too. And use cans with string. I use smoke signals as well...carrier pigeons. You know.”

The downstairs woodshop, or “the shop” as we call it, is where we bring in our raw bamboo or skateboard material, mill it with our machinery, and sand and finish each case by hand. That’s also where we have our barbeques, manage our compost pile, and grow our fledgling patch of bamboo!

Upstairs, or “laserland”, is where we have our lasers, sewing machines, and quality control areas, as well as our shipping, design, and customer service pods. Laserland also has arguably one of the best views of the Willamette River, downtown Portland, and all its bridges!

Before our current building, the lasershop and woodshop used to be in two different locations entirely. Even though we’ve got Grove down to one building, we’re still moving toward eventually having one large workshop and more streamlined and unified processes. The production teams have been spending time lately cross-training in various tasks.

Before our current location, Grove used to be in two different buildings. How has being in one building affected the company?
Galen - “Going into one building - super game changer - now everyone knows each other. Now we have to run up five flights of stairs instead of running for 2 ½ miles.”
Sean - “When I worked in the old wood shop we didn’t really see the laser shop people very often, so it’s been really great merging the two shops...Plus we’re not sharing a space with other woodworkers that have their own projects going on.”

You’ve started cross-training the production team so everyone learns every task. What are the benefits of that?
Galen - “It gives us ultimate flexibility if people are out on vacation or sick. We can shift them and still get production done.”
Sean - “It makes our relationships with each other stronger, and it makes us understand how our actions can affect each other. You see the big picture, where before it was compartmentalized. I mean, we’re all BFFs, but now we’re even closer BFFs.”

What’s the ideal Grove space?
Galen - “The ideal would be one ginormous production space so that we can all be happy together forever.” [the end].
Sean - “Maybe we should get an space. Or an underground mountain lair. In a volcano.”

Grove probably won’t be moving into a ginormous underground volcano lair anytime soon, but we’re always working toward being the most unified and productive team we can be!

Written by Mary Yajko. She is a Grove customer support rep and crazed blogger originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.