Photo by Cassandra Miller | The Daily StarJohn Hyland of Silver Creek Custom Builders stands Friday in an Oneonta kitchen he has almost finished renovating, including installing custom-made cabinets. Photo by Cassandra Miller

Silver Creek Custom Builders     Oneonta, 434-2849

Owner: John Hyland     Established: 2007

Employees: One, plus one associate

Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to John Hyland, owner of Silver Creek Custom Builders.

How long have you lived in the area?

We moved here 19 years ago. My wife is a chemistry professor, and she was doing her post-doctoral work at SUCO. She did that for a couple of years, and we left for a year to Virginia. We moved back up here because she got a position at Hartwick.

Tell me about your business:

A lot of custom cabinetry. Some new construction, new homes. We do a lot of bathroom renovations, additions, kitchens, that sort of thing.

How did you get started in this line of work?

I got a temporary job in '87 for a guy building his house. And I just helped him build his house, learned how to do the work, and I really enjoyed it a lot. And I stuck with it.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the freedom. And seeing something go from just an idea through the process of planning, computer modeling, and all the steps that take it into the real world, see something brought into existence.

What do you think is the most challenging part of what you do?

In New York, it's really difficult to have employees _ like to have one or two employees. Just with the worker's compensation and taxes and everything. It's very difficult to have a couple of employees. I have to do everything by myself or with my associate, Bob. Estimating is really challenging. But that's about it for that.

What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?

The location of Oneonta is somewhat difficult to get some of the materials we need. So, we have to go to Albany and Binghamton to get some of what we need. But, the good part is having places like Wightman Lumber or Quality Hardwood, Bruce Hall's in Cooperstown, and Munson's. They're very helpful to professional contractors, more so than the big box stores.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

That's a tough one. It's hard to say. Because around here, there are so many talented craftsmen. A lot of times we all work together on various projects. I think maybe the ability to listen to a client and figure out what they want. That's all I can think of.

What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?

Learn from people who have been doing it for a while. School is good, but working with some crusty old guy who's really curmudgeonly and picky is the way to learn. Learn how to read a tape measurer. Do all the grunt work. And stick with it, because it pays off. You don't make a huge amount of money, but it's a comfortable living.

Shop Talk interviews are conducted by Cassandra Miller. For information, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 255, or email cmiller@thedailystar.com.

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