March 27, 2012

Our Neighbors: Hobby turns career for Casteels

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — What began as a hobby for Michael and Penny Casteel evolved into a full-time business — Casteel Woodworking.

The native Laurel County couple always enjoyed spending time together, working on various craft projects as gifts for family and friends.

 The demand for their creative products and excellent woodworking skills eventually developed into a part-time business in their basement.

Mike grew-up working with wood. His father, the late Charles Casteel of Pittsburg, taught Mike to love woodworking, which has led to a 30-year career in the business.

“Penny and I made crafts in a corner of the basement with a few shop tools and basic drawings,” he said. “Before that, I had made some birdhouses and wooden toys. But, I guess the first big thing I built was a playhouse cabin.”

Prior to opening his own shop, Mike was drafted by the U.S. Army and spent two years in the military including a stint in Vietnam.

“After returning home from Vietnam, I worked for William H. Barrett Contractor, and spent 12 years at Continental Telephone Company,” he said.

With the encouragement of friends and relatives, Mike opened his woodworking business in 1982 doing trim, moulding, entertainment centers and bookcases.

“The demand grew so large I couldn’t keep up with the woodworking and work full time,” Mike explained. “I quit my job with the telephone company, built a 28x45 square-foot building and bought some equipment including a 5-head moulder and rip saw from Chaney Lumber. I think they came over on the Mayflower with the Pilgrims.”

In no time, Casteel Woodworking was filling contracts for commercial building contractors and doubling the size of the shop.

With Mike overseeing the daily operations, construction, installation and bidding, Penny — a former employee of First National Bank — uses her banking job experience to handle customer orders and bookkeeping.

Mike’s expertise now includes custom cabinetry, cabinet refacing, solid surfaces and laminate countertops. Recent business demands have included remodeling kitchens, baths, and building decks and boat docks.

“Turning this part-time hobby into a full-time business was risky, but this could not have happened without Laurel County and surrounding communities support,” Mike said.

“God has been in our business since day one. He takes care of us,” said the Casteels, who are active members of First Baptist Church East Bernstadt.

Casteel Woodworking recently received the distinguished PEAK Award (Partner for Entrepreneurial Advancement of Kentucky).

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
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