Rob Meyer has been woodworking since he was a child, picking up the skill set his father honed over many years. But it wasn’t until he moved to Florida that he decided to turn his passion into a business.
“My father always had a workshop in the basement,” said the northern New Jersey native who honed his talents at the circular saw and by working with his hands. “I learned from him.”
His father, Bob, an Army veteran who served during the Cuban Missile Crisis, built houses in his younger days, and though he received no formal training, he made it a habit to learn from watching others. “He was a self-taught engineer. He didn’t have a degree, but worked for a company [in that capacity],” he says of his dad, calling him “a master cabinetmaker and woodworker,” though it was always just a hobby.
“He did it for fun. You would think you were in high school shop class if you went into our basement,” Meyer says.
Meyer figured out how to parlay the skill set and passion his dad passed down from a hobby into a lucrative career in one of the wealthiest areas of the country. “That passion turned into a reality with the business,” he says.
Retiring from the PSEG utility company after 15 years, Meyer wanted a change, so he opted for Florida’s warmer weather and moved south in 2010. He was always renovating his house and helping out his friends with similar projects and building small pieces of furniture. His garage became a workshop filled with tools. “Me and a buddy of mine, we always talked about it all the time,” he recalls. “My wife was like, ‘You’ve got to go out on your own and do it.’”
Meyer started Palm Beach Craftsman & Co. in 2017, first doing “little odd jobs and then — boom off to the races.” With the help of his wife, Marissa O’Brien, who works in marketing, he quickly built the business, specializing in home renovations and office remodels, as well as custom wood furniture.
His company’s team of artisan carpenters has handled everything from custom kitchen cabinetry to accent walls, to monogrammed charcuterie boards, to signage. He recently completed an urn, engraved using a computer numerical control machine, commonly known as CNC.
Based in West Palm Beach, Meyer works in Palm Beach, Wellington and Palm Beach Gardens. With the real estate market on fire and more people at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been busy with work, such as adding custom barn doors, floating entertainment walls and shiplap to homes. “Even the new construction, the houses aren’t even moved in yet and people want stuff done to them,” he says.
When Meyer spoke to Behind The Hedges, he was working on 10-inch shiplap for a med-spa, custom display cases for a store, a pergola for another client, plus a bathroom renovation. “No job is too small and no job is too big,” he says.
Recently, he made a side table with a waterfall edge out of walnut with bowtie inlays to cover an imperfection in the wood. He placed hairpin legs on the opposite end of the wood legs to create a modern furniture piece.
There have been some fun custom pieces as of late. He was commissioned to build a dog credenza — a glorified dog house that doubled in this case as a sideboard. At 102 inches long, 38 inches high, and 38 inches deep with rebar in the windows and doors, it will soon be a favorite sleeping spot for two beloved Rottweilers. “That’s the fun stuff,” Meyer says.
His creative side means he isn’t just building for customers. A few days earlier, Meyer made outdoor wave loungers from 2-by-8 and 1-by-2 planed and sanded cedar wood pieces, biscuit-glued and screwed together, then covered with a satin outdoor polyurethane. They are available on his new Etsy page, PalmBeachCraftsman, but they could easily be on display in a high-end outdoor furniture shop in Palm Beach or the Hamptons.
Among the smaller items he particularly loves creating are handmade cutting and charcuterie boards. Meyer offers them in walnut, cherry, maple and hickory, and he can engrave practically any design details before finishing each with mineral oil.
What he enjoys most is whittling wood and creating something unique. “Working with the wood itself, whether it be walnut, which is probably my favorite wood, or maple — just going from a rough piece of lumber to a finished project. Then the expression on the customer’s face — that’s the joy.”
While he won’t call himself an artist when it comes to drawing, Meyer does like the process of sketching an idea on paper and showing it to the client before executing the project. He finds his customers appreciate the “old-school” way instead of computerized images.
When Meyer, a self-described “Harley- Davidson guy,” isn’t in his shop, he has his hands full with his 1-year-old daughter. “That’s my fun, that’s my world right now.”
But when he is in his shop, he still finds joy in his woodworking craft. He enjoys “firing up the CNC and making something. Even though it is work, it’s a hobby.”
The old adage, “If you find something you love to do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” rings true for Meyer.
“My father, he’s old-school — he’s in his mid-80s, I’m in my 40s — he would say, ‘Do it right the first time’” Meyer says, adding that his father is a perfectionist. “If I was doing something and it wasn’t right, he’d wait for me to screw it up and then say that you should have done it like this. That’s how you learn. You learn from your mistakes.”
“He’s the guy I look up to — I probably haven’t told him that enough,” Meyer adds.
We have a hunch it’s evident in the work.
This article appeared in the February 2022 issue.
Check out our previous Master Craftsman columns. Want to suggest a subject for an upcoming issue? Email [email protected].
This article appeared in the February 2022 issue of Behind The Hedges. The digital version of the magazine is available here.