Hidden in plain site at the corner of Highway 246 and Edison Street, Valley Oak Industries has been serving local contractors and homebuilders for 26 years.
Often referred to simply as Valley Oak, the family-owned business specializes in handcrafted products for both residential and commercial construction projects.
Valley Oak comprises a complex of Western-style buildings that include a welcoming design center stocked with windows, doors, cabinets, and hundreds of hardware showcases. Nearby, skilled craftsmen turn out made-to-order items in a fully equipped, 13,000-square-foot workshop.
“We can do millwork, radius moldings, ellipse casings, any kind of detail,” says owner Tom Carlson. “Anything you can think of, we can manufacture in wood. And we work in plastic laminates and some metals, too.
“Bring in a picture,” he adds, “and we can duplicate anything. Because we’re very versatile.”
Carlson believes that this versatility has helped his company thrive. He also credits his enduring success to a friendly, knowledgeable staff, their commitment to service, and the superior quality of his products.
“We make sure everybody gets what they want at a fair price,” Carlson said. “We’ll give you the best product for your budget, and if you buy everything from us, we’ll give you a deal, take a little something off. Once a client comes to us and sees how we work, we don’t lose them.
“I have people who are professional [in their fields] to help with your windows, doors, and hardware,” he continues, “and I’ll design the cabinets. You can come to one place and get it all, without having to run all over the county.”
Carlson and his staff–17 strong and boasting several specialists who have been with the company 16 years or more–strive to provide clients with the perfect product for a given situation. For example, the team will recommend particular types of wood, or if a product will be hit by sun and rain, perhaps fiberglass or a composite material.
“More than just supply,” Carlson says, “we educate and service. “The big box stores have no idea what they’re talking about.”
Carlson, who discovered a love of woodworking in high school, attended Los Angeles Trade Technical College to refine his craft. Self-employed by age 19, he moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in 1982.
“I grew up in L.A., but my brothers and sisters worked on horse and cattle ranches between the Valley and Lompoc,” Carlson explained. “I used to come here every summer, and when I turned 22, I moved up.
“I opened my business, but I also cleaned horse stalls, fed horses, welded, did framing, and built custom chicken coops,” he laughs. “Whatever I had to do to survive.”
While working at Paragon Arabians, Carlson helped build the barn and house on the property, which led to his first local cabinet job. In 1985, he married Kim Jacobsen, whose grandfather, Arne Jacobsen, started a regional dairy in 1942. Over the years he gradually expanded his original 400-square-foot shop until Valley Oak occupied the better part of a commercial building in Santa Ynez.
In 2000 Carlson moved Valley Oak to its current five-acre location, where he plans to double the size of the showroom, plant a grassy patio area and install a working kitchen.
“My big dream is to have local wines and beers and some sodas,” he reveals. “I’ve had customers leave at cocktail hour, and I’d like to be able to offer them something to drink in a comfortable showroom, where our employees know their business.
We’re a design center, we have an amazing supply of hardware, we have custom doors, windows, cabinets, flooring. and more, but we do things differently.”
According to Carlson, word-of-mouth recommendations have been so effective at promoting his business that he rarely advertises.
“But once a week,” he admits, “I hear somebody come in and say, ‘I never knew you guys were here.’ And we’ve been in the same showroom for eleven years!
“You don’t need to go to Santa Barbara to get quality and custom products at a decent price,” he declares. “We can give you what you want, we smile, and we’re nice. We’re here, our prices are competitive, and you’re gonna love our service!”
INFO: Valley Oak Industries is located at 3550 E. Hwy. 246, Santa Ynez. Hours are Mon. through Fri., 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sat. by appointment. For more information, stop by, call 688-2754 or visit valleyoakindustries.com