I may never be let out of the Gallery/Studio again. I had the privilege to visit Stan and Sue Jennings of Allegheny Treenware on my way back to Thomas after spending the day in Morgantown. This is funny only because my vintage 1993 Subaru Impreza was smoking when I pulled up to the workshop to pick up an order.
Let me preface by saying you will not meet anyone more welcoming and genuine than Stan and Sue Jennings. I arrived a half hour before the end of the work day and everyone in the workshop was busy at the task at hand. I was immediately greeted by the staff, followed by Sue and the canine welcoming committee. It seemed this visitor caused a joyous stir of excitement.
I apologized for not arriving earlier as planned, but announced that I had had some car trouble a few miles out. My delay was waved off and Sue insisted on taking the time to show me around their workshop. They employ eight-plus employees who help them cut, shape and finish each piece. And it’s clear how much they value and appreciate each member of their team. More than once I’d hear Sue describe members of her team as “my right hand and we couldn’t do this without their help.”
Allegheny Treenware is located on a pristine 45 acres in Preston County, W.Va., along Rt. 50. They buy most of their wood in logs (they prefer cherry, but will work with many different woods) from local folks who do select cuttings when the need arrives. They mill the logs down into boards and cut/craft each piece from there.
As per my automotive saga, a member of the Treenware team (”all he drives are Subarus”) graciously took a look under the hood and discovered a crack in my radiator. Oy! Stan very graciously said, “Well, I guess Sue will run you home.” And bless her she was quick to put my embarrassment of the situation at ease. “It’s what you do. You take care of your neighbors.”
And it is that down-to-earth, give-back personality they both share that has built their business and supported their community. And as it turns out we had a wonderful talk about the business of art and humanity in West Virginia. It turns out we’re both “door knockers” who know the value of asking a question and sharing what we’re excited about.
Sue credits Stanley for allowing her “the time away from work to follow her passion” and lobby for the West Virginia artist community. She and fellow MountainMade artist Donna Lohr (Whimsical Woolies) helped start the Preston County Arts Council. She’s active with the Tamarack Foundation and MountainMade. “I’m so excited about being able to give back to the artist community and to be able to help artists coming up as Stanley and I were. We’re very fortunate.”