The rolling greenery of Minerva contains a number of barns, but none quite like the home of Red Barn Home Furnishings.

For founder, carpenter and lead designer Ben Crawford, it’s more than a business; it’s the continuing story of his family’s love of nature and trees in particular.

Red Barn Home Furnishings specializes in handcrafted, custom-made, one-of-a-kind wooden furniture. Most of the lumber comes from the Crawford family’s own 110-acre property, which they have owned since 1944.

“I have customers that want us to use wood from their land, and we do custom cutting as far as that goes,” Crawford said. “Eighty percent comes from our property.”

After the lumber is milled, Red Barn Furnishings cures its own wood, first in a barn, then in a solar-operated kiln. The entire process can take six months.

“We process 99 percent of the wood ourselves,” Crawford said. “You can’t stress it enough. That makes it different from a lot of places.”

Every piece of wood, Crawford said, has a life of its own.

“You can have a tendency to lose yourself, and it points you in the right direction,” he added.

For Crawford, the love for trees and nature has been lifelong. The company’s website, which details his life story, includes his boyhood experiences working the land with his father and his favorite uncle Emory, who were dairy farmers.

Crawford, who earned a bachelor’s degree in resource management from Ohio State University, spent 16 years working in the logistics and transportation industry. A marriage produced two children, but ended in divorce.

He met his second wife, Sarah, after moving back to Columbus. After they married in 2010, she encouraged him to pursue his love for woodworking. They built their dream home on her family’s farm, but Sarah died unexpectedly in 2014. They had one child, Jack, now 5.

Crawford returned to Minerva. With help from younger brother, Evan, he launched Red Barn Home Furnishings in the big white barn where his father and uncle worked.

Just like the former the Crawford dairy farm, Red Barn Home Furnishings is a family affair.

“My oldest son will be 15 in October. He helps as much as he can,” Crawford said. “The kids are all interested. They like to know what I’m doing. They definitely have an affinity for it. They can tell you what the different woods are by looking at them. Even the 5-year-old can.”

On average, Crawford crafts five to six pieces a week.

“The really big stuff—tables and counter tops—is usually one a week,” he said. “The big, crazy, cool stuff; that stuff takes a lot of time.”

Business has grown mostly through word-of-mouth and customers finding the company online.

“I’ve done some neat, live-edge pieces,” Crawford said. “There’s a bunch of them that are equally interesting or unique. The one we’re putting on our Facebook page has a turquoise inlay. I’ve done a few different things that are pretty wild.”

Crawford has gained customers from across the country.

“I had one piece that went to Toronto, Canada,” he said. “San Jose, California, Austin, Philadelphia. The farthest we delivered something ourselves was to Detroit.”

Crawford said that in partnership with MPI Label systems in Alliance, Red Barn Home Furnishings is planning to roll out a new feature: Implanting microchips in the tables, which are connected to a video showing the process of how the item was made.

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Charita Goshay

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