Thomas Philips Woodworking up for awards

Young Central Saanich company nominated for two CARE awards for their kitchen work

Derrick Paas and Eric Gummer are partners in Central Saanich’s Thomas Philips Woodworking and are up for two CARE awards for their kitchen work this year.

One of the local finalists in the Victoria Homebuilders Association’s annual construction achievement and renovations of excellence (CARE) awards, has only been in business for a year-and-a-half.

Despite this, Thomas Philips Woodworking Ltd. is being recognized for its quality work on a pair of kitchen renos.

The owners of the Central Saanich company are originally from the Peninsula and have combined their love of the business and their experience into a successful, if young, company.

Eric Gummer and Derrick Paas are partners in the company, located off Keating X Road. Gummer has been in the industry for 12 years, Paas more than 20. They had been working together at a different company when they decided to strike out on their own.

“We were both laid off, actually,” said Gummer. “But we had a lot of connections between the two of us.”

With those people and businesses supporting them, the duo started Thomas Philips Woodworking Ltd. (using their middle names for the title) with an eye for being able to control the quality of their work and the products they use.

They faced significant challenges when trying to start a new business during tough economic times. But they say they had family support and have found success early on. They have even hired two more staff to help keep pace with their job orders.

“The business has been better than we expected,” said  Gummer.

The pair provide custom work for a variety of jobs, including new and renovated kitchens — which is a speciality. It’s their kitchen jobs that earned them the CARE Aware nominations. They are up for awards in two categories: Best  Traditional Kitchen (new or renovated) over 300 square feet, and; Best Traditional Kitchen (new or renovated) under 225 square feet.

The recognition from the award nominations will help raise their profile in the community,” said Gord Gummer, Eric’s dad, who is the office manager.

For the most part, business has been generated via word of mouth, Eric said, starting in the construction community where they have their main contacts.

Getting new work comes down to being able to show contractors and builders what they can do and how their designs set them apart in a competitive industry.

“If we did a good job, great,” said Eric. “The word will spread and that’s great for us.”

He added they take great pains to work with their clients, determining what they need and how they want their kitchens to look. Eric and Paas have learned new computer skills along the way to create 3D drawings and images of what a new kitchen will look like. This helps customers determine what they want to see in their homes.

Once they have the plans in place, they go to their shop (boasting a pretty large sound system) and get into the cutting, edging and assembly of each piece.

“It’s (the client’s) kitchen,” said Paas. “We’re just helping them build it.”

The Victoria Homebuilders Association’s CARE awards will be announced September 14 at a gala event at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Other local companies or projects up for CARE awards include:

• Coastal Construction – Sidney By The Sea (Best Single Detached Home over $1.5 million)

• Citta Group – Ardmore (Best Single Family Detached Custom Home under 2,600 sq. ft.