by Riley Hicks
From the moment Chris and Lizz McKay walk into the office every morning to the time they turn off the lights at the end of the day, both spend countless hours in the shop creating the most extraordinary shuffleboards. With their hands, Venture Shuffleboard builds beautifully-crafted pieces of art and entertainment.
Their hard work and exquisite shuffleboards did not go unnoticed. When “Handcrafted America” was looking for local artisans to feature on upcoming episodes of their television show, they contacted Lizz. Their story will be featured this Friday, October 13 on INSP at 8:30 p.m.
Host Jill Wagner has traveled the country looking for American artisans who create amazing art by hand. Through three seasons, audiences have seen pieces including street tiles, glass doors, and porch swings. This week, they will witness the art behind creating a shuffleboard and the steps Chris takes to assemble it.
“To watch him be put out front like this is a really nice thing for me because I know what an amazing craftsman he is,” Lizz said. “For us to have that opportunity to tell that story on a national platform is really great.”
Since the age of 12, Chris involved himself in making shuffleboards, working alongside his dad, who originally started the company. Eventually, his family decided to move to Peachtree City where Chris decided to stay in the family business by opening “Venture Shuffleboards.”
From four in the morning, Chris is in the shop, and throughout the day he works his way around the building, putting his hands in almost everything that goes into creating a shuffleboard. He may sand and finish or package up the pieces that are ready to ship. Back in the office, Lizz does inside and outside sales with the help from her assistant, Colene Oliver, while also finding ways to further grow their brand.
Chris and Lizz do not only just make shuffleboards, even though that is their most common pieces. They also design and create foosball and ping pong tables, and no matter what table is being assembled, the team at Venture makes sure each piece is at its best quality. If its from a shuffleboard or a foosball table, each one has something different about them.
“Each table has that unique soul and connectivity with its end user,” Lizz said. “Rather it’s a custom color or a special logo, when it comes together every single piece still stops me in my track.”
The forming of a shuffleboard takes multiple configurations. First, Chris has to decide on the right design, which may take five to six times before getting the right model. After bringing in the raw material, he must cut, sand, and finish it. Then begins the assembling of the shuffleboard.
While most shuffleboards go through similar steps, each board has something that makes it unique compared to the rest. Every board is stained or distressed differently. The whole process takes about a week.
Most of it can be done by Chris, but he still has three other members of his team help with the process. Brandon Core does all cutting, Jay Stewart does the sanding and shipping, and Devon Kerse does all the assembly work.
“We are a great team out there,” Chris said. “Now that we have grown, we have brought on these other craftsmen that have helped move the business forward.”
In every corner of the building, all six employees are working on something to help create the shuffleboard. In the front left corner, Lizz and Colene are in the office finalizing sales and processing future orders. To the right, two employees are assembling and sanding the boards, and in the back-left corner someone packages and prepares the shuffleboards to ship to customers.
When the filming began, it took about 12 hours to film everything they needed for the show. For those 12 hours, the McKays will have about a six-minute segment on Handcrafted that will tell their story and take Wagner through the full process of designing a shuffleboard.
All of Venture’s products are American made. In today’s world, most companies don’t stay true to that idea, but for the McKays it’s something they love to be known for.
“Its all about the relationship,” Chris said. “Me building a relationship with someone down the street, who is going to benefit from what we do is almost as good as selling that table to that customer. It becomes a small community.”
Since the company has grown so much over the years, Chris and Lizz will be soon relocating to a bigger building. After a search of almost two years, they decided to buy a space in Tyrone.
With the help of social media, Venture has been able to bring its company to a more worldly audience. People can see how authentic its pieces are and how much work is put into them. A business in Norway recently took notice of their shuffleboards and asked Chris and Lizz to assemble 20 of them.
Venture Shuffleboards will do whatever it takes to give the customer exactly what they are looking for in a piece. One of the most enjoyable things for the McKays is after dropping off the final product looking back and seeing everyone playing on it.
“It’s nice to be on TV, but it’s not why we do this,” Chris said. “When I get [the table] to the customer and install it, at the end of day when they’re smiling and playing shuffleboard and I leave the house, that makes me happy.”
To find out more about Venture Shuffleboards and what they do, visit their website at www.ventureshuffleboard.com.