by James Francis Gray
Las Vegas residents, a young, full of energy, entrepreneurial couple, Alicia and Jeff Wagner bought the Woodcraft franchise store in Ventura in November, 2017. This is a family business, so Alicia’s mother and father-in-law will be working with them to handle the everyday operations. They divide their time between Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Ventura.
The couple dons many hats. Jeff, an architect, has a small architectural practice in Las Vegas. He is also the Director of Construction for the Clark County School District, managing the construction of new schools and renovations. The Clark County School District in Nevada is the fifth largest in America. His job as manager, keeps him busy overseeing one of the largest school building programs in the nation. Jeff recently left a position as a tenured professor at the College of Southern Nevada; he taught evening classes for almost ten years.
Alicia is an interior designer, working for Westfield (the shopping mall company). Westfield has an in-house design and development team; Alicia leads the Aviation Design practice area. Her work is Los Angeles based with weekly commutes between Las Vegas, Ventura and Los Angeles. It keeps her busy.
She sometime jokes about Jeff’s inability to sit still—he often has two or three fulltime jobs at once.
The Wagner’s were exploring business opportunities. They honed in on a Woodcraft franchise store and started discussions about opening a store in Las Vegas. They took a trip last May to the Woodcraft headquarters in Parkersburg, Virginia, learning about the woodworking business franchise. During the visit, Woodcraft mentioned there was a possibility of purchasing the Woodcraft franchise store in Ventura. They lived in Las Vegas, so opening a store in Ventura would be quite an adventure.
Opportunity abound as Alicia and Jeff Wagner are assembling their plans. With the Maker Movement in mind, turning consumers into makers, they deal with the problem directly. Woodworking is seeing an uptick in a time when most retail businesses are struggling against online platforms. They adhere to the educational component of the business (most Woodcraft stores teach classes three or four days a week). The Wagner family adheres to the belief of continued learning and growing.
The Wagner family has big plans for the Ventura store. The current dedicated staff was a deciding factor in purchasing the store. The knowledgeable people in place now work hard to bring their passionate woodworking skills to the public and are there to assist. Woodworking classes will continue in their Ventura store.
They took over in November, are having fun revamping their store to increase merchandise levels, and bring in new product. They have worked with the team to change class schedules and offer new classes.
“It’s been very rewarding to grow the business and see how excited customers are when they walk into the store now,” said Alicia Wagner.
“We’re spending most weekends in Ventura and have also enjoyed exploring the town and surrounding area. While we are not fulltime members of the community yet, we’re looking forward to seeing more this spring and summer.”