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Pandemic silver lining for Frias Carpentry

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Paul Frias recently installed a new kitchen and breakfast nook for Pembroke couple Cedric and Janet Thomas (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Paul Frias in Janet and Cedric Thomas’s newly installed kitchen (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
The kitchen of Janet and Cedric Thomas, left, before renovations by Frias Carpentry, and right, after (Photograph supplied)

The isolation of the pandemic has caused many people to focus more on their own homes.

As a result, business has been booming for Frias Carpentry, a local company that installs readymade kitchens for other businesses such as Sticks and Stones, Atlas Home Improvements and Bermuda Kitchen and Bath.

“People have not been travelling as much since the pandemic began,” said owner Paul Frias. “So they are using their travel money on home improvements.”

He runs Frias Carpentry with his wife, Jennifer.

“He handles the labour and I handle the administration,” Mrs Frias said. “But I have a full-time job, so I do it in the evenings.”

In 2019 Mr Frias would often have a gap of several days between kitchen installations. Now he is already booked for next month.

“Right now we are installing a kitchen every week,” he said. “And it is one after the other.”

During the pandemic, Global Sales, a Florida-based kitchen company, reached out to them.

“A lot of people in Bermuda were contacting them, and they needed someone in Bermuda to install their cabinets,” Mrs Frias said. “We can take over the process of ordering from Global Sales. We will double check their measurements, place their orders and get everything shipped. We take care of everything.”

Mrs Frias had just spoken to a potential customer who was bringing in two kitchens from Global Sales.

“If you want us to do your installation you have to get onto the calendar,” she said.

And Frias Carpentry has also just started doing closet organiser and bathroom vanity installs for Hamma Galleries.

The couple have been married 27 years and started the business about 20 years ago.

“He had a workshop and used to build cabinets,” Mrs Frias said. “But as the years went on people started to do less of that and wanted to have stuff already made.”

Mr Frias was only too happy to make the switch to pre-made cabinets. Making custom-designed cabinetry was a lot of work for one person, and it was hard to compete, price wise, with other local companies who were offering readymade kitchens.

Mr Frias said that since the pandemic began he has not seen kitchen styles change too much.

“The Shaker-style white cabinets are still popular,” he said. “Dark blue and grey cabinets are also creeping in.”

Being a one-man operation can be a little tiring for Mr Frias. He has to load the truck, manage the tools and carry the cabinets he is installing by himself.

“That is a bit tough,” he said. “But you learn techniques for dealing with that.”

“On the other hand, he is by himself and does not have to worry about dealing with employees,” Mrs Frias said.

Mr Frias initially wanted to be a cycle mechanic when he left school, but after graduating high school he worked in construction for a few months.

“Then I came across someone who offered me a job doing carpentry,” he said.

He did not know anything about carpentry at that time but accepted an internship with carpenter Carlos Garcia.

“Today’s young people are not particularly interested in hands-on work like carpentry,” Mr Frias said. “They would rather be behind a computer — not all of them, but a lot of them.”

And the Frias family are rolling with the times. Mrs Frias started a Facebook page a few months ago.

“I was looking at different ways to build a business and let people know what we do,” she said. “I did not want to rely on others to recommend us.”

Now every time Mr Frias does an installation they post pictures of it on Facebook.

The approach is working.

“We have had lots of people contact us through Facebook,” Mrs Frias said.

For more information see Frias Carpentry on Facebook or call 334-9229.

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Published January 19, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated January 20, 2022 at 7:58 am)

Pandemic silver lining for Frias Carpentry

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