Fredericton wood processor supplies guitar giants
Specialty Maples, located on St. Mary's First Nation, sells to Gibson and Fender
A small wood processor on St. Mary's First Nation in Fredericton is selling to world-famous guitar manufacturers Gibson and Fender.
Specialty Maples is tucked away in a residential backyard and currently employs five people, but it supplies enough wood for almost 1,000 guitars a year.
"We provide the back sets, the side sets, and we provide the neck pieces for them. And they do the magic, we just do the grunt work, basically," said Richard Paul, who owns the business with his father-in law.
They source and prepare soft and hard maples from New Brunswick, and ship it to their legendary customers.
Business has picked up after a decade of carefully nurtured relationships and the company will soon move into a bigger space.
"So far, so good," said Paul.
It was almost 20 years ago that Paul came across a picture of a Les Paul guitar and the the guitar named after him, which had a maple front. Paul managed to track down the person who bought wood for the guitars and convinced him to look at 50 samples.
"I put them in the back of my recently purchased truck and drove them to Nashville, in the middle of winter. In January of 1995," he said.
The company wanted more, but Paul, who was in his 20s, was struggling with addictions at the time. He left the business to his father-in-law and it ground to a halt in the late 1990s.
In the summer of 1999, Paul began a journey of faith and converted to the Christian faith. "So I really got my eyes opened and I discovered God had a plan for my life," he recalled.
"I said 'God, I want something to do, I just can't sit here and wonder, and sit in limbo.' And I felt like God was prompting me to go back where I started."
Paul convinced his father-in-law to start again and they created Specialty Maples.
"It began to just explode," he said. "They were calling us. We weren't even calling them."
Paul credits God for his renewed life. He credits his father-in-law for keeping things going throughout. And he credits the beauty of the maple for catching the eye of some of the best guitar makers in the world.