The Accidental Company
I was working for a car dealer back in Ontario, but did woodworking as a sideline. They were building West Edmonton Mall (WEM) in Edmonton, the second phase, and my brother-in-law was a contractor. He said they needed carpenters, so my wife and I packed up and moved. Initially, I worked for a general contractor here in town – we did the Fantasyland Hotel at WEM. It was nice project. There were 18 guys all working on it, and the contractor was supposed to have work for us for at least 2 years. It turned out not to be true, so at the end of Fantasyland, he laid off everybody.
I went down to WEM to look for a job for myself. It was noisy and the guy I was talking to thought that I said I was a contractor when I said I was a carpenter. He said, "How many carpenters do you have working for you?" I had none, but I quickly thought that I could hire all the guys I'd been working with who just got laid off. So I said, "I've got 12 guys." And he said, "Oh, well if you can get 12 guys here tomorrow, I've got work for everybody."
I went home and phoned everybody, and out of the 15 guys I got 12. We went back and did installations for months and months. We did all of the millwork installations for 34 stores in WEM. And that's how the company started, sort of by accident. Now it's been 26 years that we've been in business here in Edmonton.
When I moved here I'd never been to Edmonton before, although my wife had gone to the U of A for a short while. She knew the city a bit because her parents and her sister lived here. Interestingly, the minute we arrived they all moved to Vancouver and the pressure was on for us to also move. But we liked it here, we were doing well, and we had started our company. You don't just pack up a company and move, especially when things are going so well. I think that, over the years, our company has evolved as Edmonton has evolved. We've grown together.
So we stayed. It's been good, and I think we'll retire here.
Stephen Moen is the co-owner of Moen Woodworks in Edmonton. His passion is designing furniture, "You always have ideas going on in your head, so we'll go out for dinner somewhere and all of a sudden, 'Ah, I know what to do,' and you start sketching. To be honest, we won a major design award ... and it was all designed on a cocktail napkin." When he gets spare time, Stephen enjoys woodcarving and reading.