Nov 25, 2013



Don’t judge Tori Brown by her appearance. She may be small, but she’s in the shop lifting tabletops and ripping boards on the table saw with the rest of ‘em. A fresh and bright thinker, she brings an edge to APOC products by utilizing her design education and pushing new ideas.

Tori discovered APOC almost by accident. While she was attending the Cleveland Institute of Art (of which she is a recent grad from the Industrial Design program), some of her classmates were working there as interns. “I came here to pick one of them up, and was offered an internship position on the spot by [the late] PJ Doran.” She goes on to explain how they discussed her drawings and her interest in sustainability. “APOC practices sustainability by not only upcycling reclaimed material, but by using their material as efficiently as possible”

As a young designer, Tori enjoys working with the team here at APOC, saying it fosters a great learning environment. “My colleagues have been very open and supportive.”

Previously, Tori has had the opportunity to work at well known companies such as Nottingham-Spirk, and the toy company Hasbro, Inc. She says the knowledge and experience she gained at her internships is ‘invaluable’. “Every aspiring designer needs to apply for internships. Not only will you learn industry skills, but they will help you figure out exactly what kinds of products you want to design.”

Career wise, she says she couldn’t have asked for a better first job out of school. “I always wanted to be a furniture designer, and the boss lets me bring my dog to work.”

Typically, you will find Tori doing what she does best: designing. “I find myself sketching ideas and concepts daily.” If she’s not drawing up new ideas, you can find her on the floor milling wood for fabrication, making prototypes, assembling final pieces, sanding, spray finishing… she jumps in just about where ever she’s needed. 

Here’s a little more about Tori:

Personal interests: Gardening, Hiking, Oil Painting, Ceramics, Writing letters, Nutella

Her favorite tool in the shop: “It’s a tie between the metal detectors we use to search for nails in the wood, and the mini max table saw.”

Her favorite places in Cleveland: Lakeview Cemetery, Edison’s in Tremont, The West Side Market, and The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Her favorite part of the upcycle/creation process: “When you don’t know what type of wood a board is, so someone rips an edge on the table saw or runs it through the planer and reveals glorious walnut or chestnut.”

Nov 20, 2013



Need 6 stain samples on the fly? Adam Smith is your man - well, APOC’s man. The in-house stain mixologist, he can match colors and knows how to make a table top glisten. Not only that, but he is a talented wood worker and is quick to identify problems within any fabrication process.

Hands on and energetic, Adam finds opportunity in his work. “[I like the] freedom to create furniture from locally sourced wood.” When asked what a typical day was like for him, he responded “There is now and have never been a typical day in the shop!” Adam is definitely kept on his toes, because his skills go beyond woodworking.

Besides working on the shop floor, Adam is the deconstruction specialist, which is how he got his start at APOC in the first place. “I attended a sustainability workshop and decided to volunteer for APOC. I then started on fulltime in 2008 after completing Cleveland’s first deconstruction project in Slavic Village.”

Since getting his start here, Adam has been involved in just about all the deconstruction projects through APOC. With a team, he goes into dilapidated houses around Cleveland scheduled for demolition, and pulls out usable and valuable materials. This is exactly what he loves about his job. “We work to keep housing stock out of the landfill. They’re not making this beautiful wood anymore!”

This is what he believes makes APOC unique. “We source the materials ourselves; like a restaurant with a garden out back.” 

With big projects and custom orders custom orders coming in, it can be a juggle in the shop with space and manpower. What keeps everything rolling? According to Adam: “Communication and teamwork!”

Here is a little more about Adam:

Personal interests:I enjoy reading and grouper sandwiches. I have a side gig shucking oysters for my friends' events. I do a lot of biking and I love being able to change Cleveland from the inside!”

His favorite tool in the shop: “The planer transforms painted, ugly wood into works of art.”

His favorite places in Cleveland: “Anywhere there’s a patio in the summer, and a fireplace in the winter.”

His favorite part of the upcycle/creation process: Cleaning off old pieces of lumber and revealing their true character