Deanna and Stewart Junge are the founders of Landmark Finish Inc., a family and Veteran owned and operated custom cabinetry business located in Andover, Massachusetts. The couple first connected with Interise in 2019 when they participated in the StreetWise MBA VETRN Cohort and then again in April 2020 amidst Covid-19 when they participated in the first ever online Interise Strong Cohort.
At the start of the pandemic, the Junge’s had just made a major pivot in their business to add plastic to their portfolio; Stewart prototyped and developed their own line of clear protection barriers. Landmark Finish is a fully CNC automated business which means their machines can cut both wood and plastic alike. They seized the opportunity and were able to hit the ground running offering safe-guards to their local community as well as communities around the state. By the end of the fall, Deanna and Stewart had outfitted over 40 schools in the Massachusetts area with their clear protection barriers including Boston College and Brandeis University. As Deanna said, “we were very lucky that we saw that opportunity because, financially, it carried us through the end of the year.”
Deanna and Stewart have two sons, Brody 14 and Colby 11, who grew up working in the shop with their parents, “As entrepreneurs and business owners we work a lot of long hours so when the kids weren’t in school they were hanging out here in the shop. They have been in the shop environment and learned how to safely use tools from a very young age.” For the last couple of years they have been working on family projects and posting them on their youtube channel and an Instagram account; “we call ourselves the Jungemakers (@jungemakers). Our last name is Junge which is pronounced Young.”
The Junges explained that they are always reaching out to their community, trying to meet people, and find ways to work together. They began speaking with Rick Gorman, the Executive Director of the North Andover Youth Center, about a year ago about collaborating to put together a woodworking program. Rick had met the Junge boys and thought it would be great for them to be the program instructors rather than to have Deanna and Stewart take the lead. As a result, the team came up with the idea of a peer-peer led, 6 week, woodworking program open to middle school students held in the Landmark Finish showroom.
Unfortunately, when Covid hit the project had to be put on hold, but eventually Rick was able to get a grant from the Josh N. Herman Youth Center Inc. to fund the program making it free of charge for all current students. The current class is made up of six boys ranging from 6th-8th grade. As Stewart said, “The timing is perfect because it gives kids something to do.” The Junges noted that the first class sold out in less than 15 minutes and in addition to being sold out, they have 7 more students on a waitlist for the next session.
They explained that, “In the 6 week period we wanted to expose them to as many tasks as we could and see how creative we can push them to be and what they can come up with.” Each student is creating their own unique signs and in doing so are learning the ins-and-outs of real-world woodworking.
Deanna and Stewart are supervising along with a third supervisor from the youth center making each class nearly a 1-1 ratio of instructor and student. The boys do not use any cutting tools, they are able to use clamps and an orbital sander and that’s it. “We think this is definitely going to grow legs and as it grows, our kids are going to grow older so I think we want to eventually work into the program the ability to make alumni instructors so we maintain the peer-peer and it rolls over.”
At present, the Junges are still doing cabinetry and are also in the process of applying for patents on both their clear protection barriers as well as a new line of furniture they are putting together. “The furniture line is a reaction to Covid – We are trying to service the market where people need more work spaces in their home and might be faced with space restrictions with everyone working from home and kids doing remote learning. People only have so much space in their house for both kids and adults to have a proper work space.”
Small businesses that are nimble with the ability to seize market opportunities or pivot during times of crisis whether it’s as pandemic, economic recession or natural disasters will always show the most staying power. Interise’s is proud of that fact that its alumni businesses show extraordinary resilience.