Dave LaCroix’s career path has recently come full circle. Growing up in Branford, he remembers working with his dad in the woodworking shop and building a small boat together. He began his working life based on that hobby as he and his friend, Carl Johnson were partners in a woodworking shop and retail store in Clinton.
After about 10 years, Dave, who is a professionally trained chef, re-entered the food service industry. Being married with two kids, he decided to move on to more of an office job.
When his job was eliminated, Dave took it as a sign to get back to woodworking, a hobby he had never let go of over the years.
“I’m not a kid anymore – I’m 57 years old – and I don’t want to go back to corporate life,” said Dave. “It’s always been my intention for this to be my retirement business – retirement came sooner than I thought, but the sooner the better because I’m in a good place that I can do this.”
In the early fall, Dave made his business official, opening The Furniture Fixer: Dave LaCroix & Sons. Dave’s sons are 9 and 15 and both have enjoyed time in the workshop, just as Dave did with his father when he was young.
“My youngest always comes down to the workshop, finds some scrap pieces and nails them together,” said Dave.
The Furniture Fixer, which has a Facebook page, offers an array of services from repairing broken furniture to refinishing an old piece of furniture to touch-ups on pieces that have been dinged or scratched.
“There’s a whole technique and set of supplies that can almost render that blemish unrecognizable,” said Dave, who also builds custom pieces. “People have an attachment to furniture and the remembrance of the person it came from, though sometimes the piece isn’t their taste. If you’ve got a piece of furniture that looks horrible and have no intention of selling it because it’s a family heirloom, why not refinish it so you can enjoy it in your home every day?”
Dave shared a number of stories of projects he’d been proud to work on, including rebuilding the frame of a woman’s armchair and stripping and refinishing a family’s dining room table.
“These are pieces of quality furniture that were broken or looked horrible that I was able to bring back to life,” said Dave, who also serves on Branford’s Board of Fire Commissioners. “It’s a great feeling to take something to the shop, breathe new life into it and return it to someone so they can enjoy it.”
While Dave loves repairing furniture, he also enjoys designing specialty pieces with a goal of one day having his own storefront where people can see before and after pictures and a showroom to display his pieces. For now, though, he is going to start building some furniture to display at other local businesses on consignment.
“It’s my hope that between refinishing, repairing and building new, those three levels of the business will keep me busy,” said Dave. “If I could do those three things and make a living, I’d be very happy.”