Home Based Business of the Year

Thomas Russell

Thomas Russell had a successful career for many years in the insurance industry, but soon became burned out. He was ready to do something different with his life.

Russell's brother worked with an Austin company that provided wood refurbishing services. Russell soon became intrigued by the idea of restoring old wood products to its original natural beauty.

He did some research and discovered a franchise called Kitchen Tune-Up, a company that sold wood refurbishing services and products. He bought into the company in 1991. While working in the industry, Russell developed his own unique wood refurbishing products. When the franchise contract expired in 1999, he began an independent company under the name, Metro Woodcare Services.

Before going independent, Russell visited with Carlos Amaya, business opportunity specialist at the University of Central Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. Amaya helped Russell develop a new business plan and offered him direction on how to market his product.

"He came up with a new product for wood care, and we discussed channels for distribution," Amaya said. "We also set up an ecommerce Web site where he could distribute his products over the Internet. Today he is very successful and a strong advocate of home-based business."

The whole theory behind Metro Woodcare Services is that wood comes from trees, a living thing. Russell believes that just as you tend a live tree, making sure it is nourished and sometimes pruned, you need to take care of natural wood furnishings in your home or office. He says wood needs both tending and nourishing to keep it in good condition and looking beautiful.

When wood is still part of the living tree, it gets moisture and nourishment from the sap. Once it is cut, then that steady supply of moisture is gone and it needs to be "fed" and replaced from time to time. Russell takes neglected wood products and restores them to good health.

Metro Woodcare provides a refurbishing rather than refinishing process. Instead of stripping and sanding, which can be messy and disruptive to home and office, the process is to first thoroughly clean the soil and grime with special products. The nicks and scratches are rubbed out. The natural oil products then restore the proper moisture balance, and then it is sealed and finished.

Russell finds a special joy in the restoration of antiques and older wood products. For him, it provides an inner joy as well as a living. He said he delights in watching a customer see what looks old and dingy restored to pristine condition.