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Meet Paul Reaser of Quail Hill Interiors in North Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Reaser.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I think we are all molded at a very young age by our parents and the people and circumstances that surround us. My dad would always say “listen to your gut son, it will never lie to you, but it’s up to you to make the right decision”. Later in life I realized that was the way God talks to us and if we stop and listen and are sensitive to this feeling, he will always guide us down the right path. I believe people and circumstances are placed in our path for a reason and we should never be afraid to walk through an open door of opportunity.

I worked with my dad in const. from 1972 to 1980. At that time my dream job was to be a chef, so at age 20 it was off the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where I studied for two years and proudly walked away with a Bachelor’s degree in the culinary arts.

After college in 1982 I went back home to Kalispell Mt. where my dad helped me to open my own restaurant call “The Lighterside” It got its name because it was located in an old Masonic temple that had a southern exposure. The fare was far from light, everything was made from scratch daily, fresh bread for sandwiches, a 24’ food bar with fresh salads, cheese, baked potatoes with all the fixings’ and fresh soup and chili. French desserts and pastries were served table side on a dessert cart. The place was an instant success and my life couldn’t be better until June of 1983 when my father was killed in a boating accident. My whole world fell apart in an instant. My dad had borrowed the money for my restaurant, basically on a signature and a handshake and without him around, the bank foreclosed on me and wanted payment in full.

I was able to convince them to let me operate the business for one year to build a track record and set a value for sale. The bank put the restaurant on the market on the day of my 1 year anniversary, I had no say in the asking price, they set the value to pay off the banks note, $60,000, and it was easily worth 3 times that amount. It sold in 1 week. 3 months later in Sept. of 1984 I found myself unemployed.

After my father’s death, my mom moved to Phx. AZ, so in Oct. 1984, I decided to go there to pay her a visit, clear my head and decide what my next move was going to be. After a couple of months I decided to make Phx my permanent home. (The great winter weather sucked me in, I had never spent a summer here yet. After 34 years I’m still not used to the summers.)

I took a job at Westcourt in the Buttes in Tempe AZ as a Sous chef in the spring of 1985 and managed to stay with them for 3 years. I say “managed” because after you get a taste of self-employment, it’s hard to work for someone else. At the time my roommate Mark Cobos was a tile contractor, so we decided to come together and form a partnership that specialized in custom ceramic tile and stone and with my const. background from working with my father building log homes, we expanded into doing light remodeling. We started small doing bathroom remodels where we would build a new vanity and from there it grew into kitchen cabinets and furniture. I did all this with a table saw and a few hand tools, working out of our 2 car garage.

In 1989 we decided to part ways, on good terms, were still good friends today. I bought a small condo on the corner of 7th St and Thunderbird rd. Quail Hill Condos is what they’re called. I continued to build cabinets and furniture out if my garage, things were slow, and I struggled to pay the bills and keep food on my plate. My family and friends thought I was crazy and wondered why I wouldn’t go back to the food industry where I could earn a good living. I told them that I have nightmares being back in the kitchen and never wanted to go back. I truly believe that God led me from the food industry to work with Mark Cobos to going out on my own. My gut felt good and needed to stick it out to see where it would lead me.

Remember when I said “people and circumstances are placed in our path” Well, my life was about to make a huge change. I met this lady, Maureen Chestnut, she was a designer and she needed a small cabinet for her personal residence. She was so impressed with me and my abilities that she referred me to a group of designers. They called themselves “Interior Studio Group” and they needed some model home furniture for the new development in north Scottsdale, the Boulders Resort.

I’ll never forget how nervous I was walking into their office. 6 of them sitting around the conference table, and me. I had a portfolio, when I look back, I would be embarrassed to admit that I built any of it. They didn’t say much about my goods, but they must have seen something in me. They showed me a number of pieces they needed. An armoire, 2 night stands, a dresser and a credenza and asked me to give them a price right then and there. My shirt was soaking wet and my hands were shaking. I shot them a price of $12,000 and one of them got up right away and wrote me a check for $6,000. I think they wanted to lock me in before I had a chance to change my mind and rethink the amount. They told me later that I was 50% less than the lowest bid. I didn’t care, I thought I hit the lottery. I immediately went out and rented a 1000 sq. ft. space and moved in my equipment. At this point I didn’t even have a company name. Remember the name of the condo complex I lived at? I liked the way it sounded and Quail Hill Interiors, Inc. was born in January 1990.

There was another woodworker in complex where I rented my shop space. His name was Gene Barrick and he really knew his stuff. So, in my spare time I would hang out at his shop and absorb as much knowledge as possible. Over the next 4 years we became good friends and even worked together on a few projects. The next door of opportunity was about to open by a Mt. biker friend of mine, Rick Holmes. He offered to front me the money to buy a home on a small piece of land and build a shop on the property. I finally settled on a place in the New River area, which is about 25 miles north of Phx. I found a small 1600 sq. ft. home on an acre of land that was only about 50% complete. For the next 6 months I worked at my rented shop by day and worked to finish my new home at night and on weekends. When that project was complete I focused my energy on my new shop. In June of 1995 I started the const. of my new 3000 sq. ft. shop right behind my newly finished house. 6 weeks later I was all moved in and working right from home. For the next couple of years I worked alone until business grew to the point that I needed help. I contacted my good friend Gene Barrick and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Gene came on board in 1998 and is still working for me today.

The business continued to steadily grow and in 2006 I finally got married for the first time at the young age of 46 to my beautiful wife Rebecca and 9 months later our son Finn was born. I am very lucky to have married a woman that didn’t mind having 6 guys and lumber trucks coming and going Monday thru Friday.

2008 came with the recession and business slowed to a trickle and my life was about to make another drastic change. In 2010 another door opened by a chance meeting on a job site by Mike Pape. Mike came from a shop that used a CNC router to process all their cabinet parts. He was in charge of design and programming. With business slow I knew I needed to make a big change to the way we worked in the shop. The CNC router would allow us to process parts much faster and with less man power. So with absolutely no work in the shop, Mike and I made a trip to the Las Vegas woodworking show and I bought a CNC router and Cabinet Vision software to run the machine. I had to invest $100,000 to set up the shop and get the new machine running. I also needed to learn how to run the machine and learn the Cabinet Vision software. The next year was a nightmare with all the changes to the business and the new way we went about building our cabinets. My friends thought I was crazy to invest such a large sum of money with no work, but my gut felt right and I knew God had me on the right path. My wife has always trusted my instincts and stands behind me 100% and I’m very lucky to have her as a partner on this journey.

Business eventually picked back up and I suddenly realized how profitable we were with the new way of doing things. It was then that I realized that it might be possible to actually save up enough money to purchase my own building, a lifelong goal. In January of 2017 I started looking for a building to purchase. I found the perfect spot, a 12,000 sq. ft. free standing building at 321 West Melinda Lane, Phx AZ 85027. In January of 2018 we finally closed and started the tenant improvements. In June 2018 we finally finished const. and moved in.

It’s been a long exhausting journey to get to this point, but hey, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Right? I couldn’t have done this on my own. It’s taken the help of friends, family and my dedicated staff to pull this off and I will be forever grateful to everyone involved.

As I write this, we are just getting up and running. I am excited for the future and a little bit scared at the same time. We need to really ramp up our production to keep this ship afloat, but my gut feels right and I know that God has me on the right path. Always remember, with God on your side all things are possible.

Has it been a smooth road?
Finding enough work in the beginning and the recession in 2008 were 2 of the biggest hurtles.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Quail Hill Interiors story. Tell us more about the business.
We specialize in (I know this sounds cliché’) high end custom cabinetry and millwork. Our customers use us because of our high quality and the fact that we give the client more than expected. We do what we say and we are always meet our deadlines. Quality work is very important it goes hand in hand with customer service and that’s where we shine. We are able to provide both. Who would have thought that simply doing what you say would set you apart from everyone else.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We are geared up to manufacture a 2” thick interior passage door along with our custom cabinet packages. I think customers are looking for a shop that can meet all their needs for their home project. You need to be flexible and be willing make changes and meet new changes and trends.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Quail Hill Interiors, Inc.
    321 West Melinda Lane
    Phoenix, Arizona 85027
  • Website: quailhillinteriors.com
  • Phone: 602.670.0521
  • Email: paul@quailhillinteriors.com

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