by Patrick Bresnahan
A hipster, a male model and a farmer walk into a bar….
This might sound like the start of a bad joke, in actuality however, it is pretty much how Grain Designs came to fruition. I know that Blain has already covered how Grain Designs was formed in his first blog post, so I’m not going to bore you with those details. Blain already accomplished that (just kidding Blain). I thought I would introduce you to each of the original members of Grain Designs, to give you the reader, an idea of who each of us is and how it all comes together within the company.
Philip Bruckbauer is my cousin and was one of the original owners of Grain Designs. He is also the primary reason I got involved with the company in the first place. Phil is the quintessential hipster. We have a running joke that if you step into our shop, you can tell who is running the floor at any given moment by what is on the stereo. In Phil’s case, what would be on the stereo is a band you have never heard of before. As a matter of fact, if you ever find yourself listening to a band that sounds a little folky and neither you, nor anybody around you has any idea who they are, chances are it’s Phil’s favorite band. Phil isn’t just your average hipster however; he is actually a very good athlete. Phil played college soccer at Concordia and was quite good. Although, I do have to point out that it was still very hipsterish to pick soccer as his primary sport. I mean a sport that isn’t all that popular in the U.S., let alone North Dakota? Also, it is my belief that he spent all that time playing soccer just to get better at hacky sack so he could impress his fellow hipsters. Phil’s best quality is that he is good at everything. There seems to be almost nothing that Phil doesn’t do well. He’s smart, funny, plays guitar, good athlete, fun to be around, you get the idea. Phil brings a lot to the table in the business due to his versatility.
The Male Model
I’m going to start this section by saying that I personally am heterosexual, but regardless of that fact, even I have to admit that Grant Koenig is one good-looking S.O.B. And for all of those single guys out there who might be competing with Grant for the affection of a young lady, I regret to inform you that he is as good of a guy on the inside as he is good-looking on the outside. If you step into our shop and the music makes you think you are in a Miami nightclub, then you know Grant has control of the stereo. Grant loves any song, as long as that song has the same up-tempo backbeat that is predominantly present at a rave. Luckily for Grant, in today’s day and age, pretty much every song ever made has been remixed with this exact same backbeat. Ever wanted to hear The Eagles’ Desperado at the pace of 100 beats per minute? Me neither, but I can tell you from experience that Grant for some reason or another does. Grant’s greatest talent is his vision. Grant comes up with alot of our unique designs and whenever there is an argument or conversation as to which way we should go on a design, Grant is usually right. Grant ensures that Grain Designs is always on the cutting edge and is a truly talented craftsman.
Blain Mikkonen, the co-founder of Grain Designs, grew up in South Dakota on you guessed it, a farm. And make no mistake; Blain’s personality reflects his farming roots. If you were to walk into the shop and Blain was in control of the stereo, you would hear nothing. Silence is Blain’s song of choice and he is usually the one requesting that the stereo be turned down. Blain is a man of relatively few words and aside from the occasional awful dad joke; he typically doesn’t say something unless it needs to be said. Blain keeps all the gears greased and wheels turning both literally and figuratively. True to his farming background, Blain is quite conservative and frugal when it comes to money. For instance he insists that the shop be kept at a balmy 45 degrees in the winter and a cool and comfortable 97 degrees in the summer despite the close calls of both hypothermia and heat stroke for the shop team. His other great money saving venture is his insistence on using latex staining gloves a minimum of a dozen times before being thrown away. These tactics have literally saved the company tens of dollars. In all seriousness though, he is the only one capable of handling the finances. And to be honest, if it wasn’t for Blain, the rest of us would almost always find an excuse to be off drinking beer and playing golf or doing some other unproductive activity. Yes, Blain is definitely the glue that holds everything together.
My name is Patrick Bresnahan and I am the most recent member of the Grain Designs ownership team. I had a tough time coming up with a label for myself that truly encompasses whom I am. I asked my cousin Phil if a label came to mind and he gave me two answers, pizza connoisseur and sports fanatic. This previous summer (2016), my girlfriend (now wife) and I got into a very serious and heated argument, and let’s just say the manure was hitting the fan. When asking her why she was so mad, she replied, “All you care about is pizza and softball”. I felt this statement was ridiculous. I care about a lot of other sports, not just softball. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that Phil hit the nail on the head with his label, it’s safe to assume that if i’m not working, I am playing a sport, watching a sport, or eating pizza. If you come to our shop and sports talk radio is on, you know that much to the chagrin of my cousin, I have control of the stereo. Grain Designs was initially just supposed to be a short gig for me. I had just finished student teaching and needed a job for a few months. After just a couple of weeks on the job however, I knew that I wanted to be a permanent member of Grain Designs. After begging the guys to let me be a part of their club for weeks on end, they felt enough pity to finally make me a permanent member of the group.
It is obvious that each member of Grain Designs is quite different, but it is my belief that our differences are what make the company great. We all bring something unique to the table and we all view projects from different perspectives. Finally, and most importantly, we are all friends. When we are not at work, we are still most likely hanging out together, (usually at Fort Noks) and this is truly why our dynamic works. We genuinely enjoy working with each other and enjoy being around one another. This has created what I believe to be the best place in the world to work and is the main reason that great ideas and quality products continue to come from Grain Designs and will come from Grain Designs for years to come. So the next time you are out and about in Fargo, don’t be surprised if you see a hipster, a male model, a farmer and a sports/pizza fanatic hanging out together.