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WATCH: Vets turn hobby into full-time business

Posted at 12:13 PM, Apr 15, 2016

Need a new table, bed or set of chairs? Wellington-based At Ease Design Co. creates handmade furniture "made with honor" by two military veterans who found solace and independence in their hobby.

It started with a bed that DJ Schauer and Brad Burkhart built for Schauer's daughter.

"From that, it evolved into people saying, 'Hey, could you do this for us?' 'Can you do that?'" Schauer, a Navy veteran, said.

"My son saw it and wanted one, and one thing led to another," said Burkhart, an Army veteran.  "We started building beds. People were requesting furniture, so we started a website and we started building a few pieces of furniture. Ever since then, we have been getting orders on a weekly basis."

Best friends Burkhart and Schauer turned their furniture-making into At Ease Design Co., which creates custom, hand-made items for customers. The pair now have several orders they are racing to keep up with.

Burkhart said the company also serves as a positive and healing outlet for him psychologically.

"I suffer from PTSD and this is very therapeutic for me," Burkhart said. "When I come out here, I can run my own schedule. I don't have a commute."    

Demand has reached such a point that Burkhart and Schauer will soon need to hire more staff — preferably, they said, fellow veterans.

"It's turned into this huge thing; it's completely surprising," Schauer said. "We never though in a million years we would get to this point."

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Richard Sharp can be reached at richard.sharp@kshb.com.

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