by Grant Koenig

Since the inception of Grain Designs the goal has always been to create custom pieces with meaning, primarily through the story that the reclaimed wood tells. As the company has grown we have been given the opportunity to work with wood and materials salvaged from all across the country. With this comes our responsibility to keep that story alive and pass it along to the clients receiving their custom pieces. The projects always take on their own life whether through the story of the wood or the story of the customer and in many cases both. The project that I am going to highlight today was one that not only offered a great story through the wood, and a unique story with the customer but also through another element that we got to incorporate into a custom coffee table.

As with most custom projects this process started with an email from a gentlemen named John looking for a custom coffee table. John shared with me that he had recently retired from the FBI as well as the Marine Corps and had Challenge coins from his years of service that he wanted a place for. A few emails back and forth and I put together a drawing of a coffee table that would serve as both a functional piece of furniture as well as a display. 

John decided that the piece would be a great fit for his home so we moved forward with the process and I met with John to go over finish options and to get the challenge coins that were going to be incorporated. From there we got to work planning, welding, gluing, routing, sanding, staining, and finishing. Unfortunately, I don’t have process photos to share but we will just get to the satisfying part, the finished product.

This is the part that I know I enjoy the most and that is getting to present the finished piece to the eagerly awaiting client. Now if I am being completely honest there is always nerves involved because the last thing we want is to create something that the customer isn’t completely satisfied with…but fortunately it was exactly what John was looking for.

After getting the initial unveiling out of the way, I asked John if I could take a few minutes to sit down with him to really understand the meaning behind these coins and why these coins in particular were so special to him.

John went on to tell me that the coins are from his 22 years with the FBI and the Marine Corps as he served on 7 deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan imbedded with the Department of Defenses Special Operations command. These 25 coins were chosen out of over 400 that he had received and took him over 3 hours to sort through.  For John, the coins represent a variety of different accomplishments and units that he served with over the past 22 years.

Getting to hear his story and shake his hand was a truly humbling experience for me as well as an eye opening one. As a grandson to 2 grandfathers that have served as well as having countless friends and family that are currently serving or have served; hearing about John’s commitment to our country really helped put my life into perspective. It made me take a step back and think about the reason I am able to do what I do everyday and why that is so important. It is because of men like John, my friends, family and countless others that selflessly serve on behalf of the individuals living in this country that we all get to live a life of freedom and that is so very important to not take for granted.

With Memorial Day just behind us and with Independence Day quickly approaching I felt that this was an appropriate time to highlight this story and remind us all why we are so blessed to be living in this country.

On behalf of myself and the entire G.D. team, a sincere thank you to all who have served or are currently serving this country.