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Stephen Doyle, Bethesda Showroom
4828 St Elmo Ave.
What started in the basement of an Old Town Alexandria storefront in 1976 has become a 60-person operation with two showrooms in the D.C. area and a production facility with a showroom in Elkwood, Virginia. Stephen Doyle, the Bethesda showroom manager, attributes Hardwood Artisans’ success to being able to change and grow with the community. “We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our customers to stay in business,” says Stephen. “If they keep wanting to come in and buy things, we have to figure out a way to stay open.”
When Stephen left Hardwood Artisans in 2000 to study aerospace engineering at Old Dominion University, the company threw him a retirement party. It was at this now-premature retirement bash that Doyle met his wife, Witarani. “It was the most fortunate thing that’s ever happened to me,” he says.
Stephen returned to Hardwood Artisans just four years later for what he thought would be a temporary stint. “I thought it was going to be temporary while I looked for something in aerospace engineering. But working here made other jobs less attractive,” says Stephen, who has been with the company 28 of the 42 years it’s been in business.
For Stephen, it’s the client relationships that make the work so rewarding. “This business is a magnet for really interesting people,” he says. Hardwood Artisans’ customers are loyal, professional types who enjoy connecting with their creative side to purchase bespoke furniture. “It’s not just about the furniture we make, it’s the relationships we build with people,” he says.