The phrase “You dream it, we build it” has been the motto for the Island business River Traditions Custom Cabinetry & Furniture since opening its doors in February 2019.

And for husband-and-wife owners Zachary and Darrian Johnson, it seems that the venture was a perfect fit based on personal experiences.

“My dad had a cabinet shop when I was little (out) in Livermore, and it was actually called River Traditions,” Darrian Johnson said.

Zachary Johnson ended up learning some of the trade from Darrian Johnson’s father, which sparked the idea of forming his own business.

“I’ve always kind of liked building stuff,” he said. “We built our own home. … My dad built his own home and I’ve always liked doing that kind of stuff.

“It wasn’t really so much that I was interested in building cabinets, but actually talking (Darrian’s) dad into doing it and just kind of fell in love with it from there.”

The business first operated out of a small garage in Owensboro before purchasing its current space at 165 Adams Ave. at the end of 2019.

The team includes the Johnsons, Zachary Johnson’s father on a part-time basis, along with a part-time and a full-time employee taking on projects from custom cabinet work, furniture, pantries, vanities, remodels, new construction, laminate and butcher block countertops and more.

“Really — if it’s made out of wood, (Zachary) does it,” Darrian Johnson laughed.

At the start, business saw a quick boom.

“... We stayed really busy. We’d done a bunch of kitchens. It was a very good first year,” Darrian Johnson said. “Then Covid hit that next year.”

According to Darrian Johnson, the height of the coronavirus pandemic proved different from its inaugural year — going from about five to six kitchen projects in 2019 to about two in 2020.

But despite the concerns beyond their control, the Johnsons feel they are back on track.

“I think business has definitely picked up since Covid,” Darrian Johnson said.

“It’s been pretty steady,” Zachary Johnson said. “I think we’ve done 12 kitchens, probably five or six pantries. We’ve probably done 25-plus jobs (in the) last year ….”

They even had plans to expand the business’ offerings.

“I’m kind of working out the kinks to move into building pallets as well,” Zachary Johnson said.

One of the Johnsons’ favorite parts of the job is being able to see first-hand where a project comes from and where it’s eventually placed.

“Most of your cabinet shops have computer numerical controls (CNCs), and we don’t have a CNC router,” he said. “Everything is hand-cut on a table saw or with a hand saw, hand sanded ….

“We personally run the pieces through and it’s kind of cool taking a board or a sheet of plywood and getting a desk, or a coffee table or kitchen cabinets (out of it).”

“It’s all real wood and you can see all the grain,” Darrian Johnson said. “... It’s really cool … to see when you do a kitchen, even in new construction, when it goes from where there’s nothing on the walls and it’s just an empty room, and then you start putting the cabinets together — you’re creating a whole room and a whole new space ….”

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