The revving of the chainsaw barely gets noticed at Justin Domer’s business on Old York Road near Newport.
It competes with a large, portable saw mill that turns trees into long planks. Often there is the distinctive aroma of cedar in the air, one of Domer’s favorite woods to work with. Tops on his list is black walnut. “It’s the Cadillac of woods,” he says.
There’s also the gentle gurgle of water. The other half of Domer’s business is landscaping, and he can turn just about any large stones into a soothing fountain.
Landscaping brought Domer to Rock Hill in the first place. He grew up in the Akron-Canton area of Ohio. Landscaping, he says, was a natural extension of academic talents – math and art. But the winter and fall weather there meant he couldn’t work outside seven or eight months a year.
He came to Rock Hill to work outside year ’round. That’s exactly what the 32-year-old Domer does, even if he’s at his business at 4326 Old York Road. A converted home is a showroom of sorts, but all the work is done outside.
The sound of the chainsaw is constant however. Rob Kulp twists and turns the chainsaw with the skill of an artist. It’s not every day you’re asked to give Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and other bucks a manicure.
The reindeer are the latest traffic stoppers for Domer. Along with the bucks, there is a herd of does and fawns, gazing peacefully at the constant stream of passing cars.
So far about 60 of his reindeer have found new homes. Individual reindeer go for $55, but a family of three – buck, doe and fawn – is $120.
The reindeer are a perfect example of what Domer wants to be known for. If you see a picture of furniture or other outdoor items you like on Pinterest or Google or in a catalog, bring it Domer. With the picture and some of their own creativity, Domer’s crew of five will make the item for you.
The proof positive is in the home showroom – two end tables that do double duty as indoor dog crates. A customer asked Domer if he could make them simpler and less costly than what he saw in a magazine.
Domer got the idea for the reindeer after visiting the Carolina mountains. He saw a herd of wooden reindeer for sale and, after a few minutes of inspection, was certain he could bring wooden reindeer to the area.
Domer applied basic manufacturing principles to create his reindeer herd. The bodies are first cut from small logs. The head and legs are shaped from scraps that normally would have been thrown into a fire. The antlers start as small tree branches.
The pieces are assembled with a drill and pneumatic nail gun. A chainsaw manicure gives each buck a distinctive set of antlers.
When the assembly line is up and running at full speed Domer says they can make as many as 20 reindeer a day.
Domer added even more holiday spirit to his business this year by selling Christmas trees. Only a couple remain.
Between the reindeer and the Christmas trees, Domer accomplished his goal. So far, he has three solid leads for his landscaping business.
Domer’s attentions are already turning to warmer weather. He is trying to figure out what might be a good spring traffic stopper. And for the next holiday season he’s wondering if Santa bears could complement his reindeer.
Regardless of the season, one thing is for sure: “It’s show and tell every day here,” Domer says.