July 15, 2003 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

This is truly a family business, and it's working well.

Tom McReynolds of McReynolds Furniture and Custom Cabinets Inc. has been in the cabinet-making business for a long time, including 10 in La Grande.

Now his oldest son, Ben, 22, is coming alongside him to help run the business, which many people refer too simply as McReynolds Wood Working.

It has operated out of 2701 Bearco Loop for the past year in what is known as the old Kaman Bearing Building.

Ben just graduated from George Fox University, magna cum laude, no less.

Tom's youngest son, Tim, a 2003 gradate of Union High School, is also working in the business although he plans to leave in the fall for a year at Portland Bible School. Then he'll go to Eastern Oregon University for a year. He's not so certain what will happen after that.

Tom's wife, Miriam, helps make it more of a family operation by keeping the books. Their youngest daughter, Shannon, helps out around the shop whenever she can, Tom said.

"Ben has worked with me since he was 14," the father said. "He's a tremendous cabinet maker."

It's their own choice that the sons work with the company, the father said. There's no pressure from him.

Ben said his degree is in cinema and media communication. He enjoys music as a hobby, and plays the piano.

Besides working with his father, he worked in a Newberg cabinet shop while attending college.

"It feels good coming home with the seriousness I really wanted to invest into doing cabinet work. I decided on cabinetry rather than pursuing a career in music, because you can spend a lot of time and years in music before you can earn a living. I'd rather spend my time here and do the music thing as a sideline."

Ben said he felt cabinet making "is an artistic trade" that can utilize his abilities.

Tim, 18, is working in the business full-time now and said if he can come up with the money, he'd liked to study business in college.

He expects to work with his father for about five years after finishing his formal education.

"Now, I do most of the framing for the front of the cabinets, do sanding and staining," Tim said.

Tom, 43, said he had been working in cabinetry since he was 17, "and it fits me like a glove. I love it."

He has worked in Portland, Bend and Salem, starting his own business in 1985.

He was the minister of the Bread of Life Church for 10 years, and said he resigned "because I felt I was most gifted in cabinetry and woodworking. And my sons love it. We have a great relationship."

The company specializes in upper-end cabinetry, doing both commercial and residential work. They make custom fireplace mantles, entertainment centers and all types of woodworking projects. They also make custom traditional longbows for those interested in traditional archery.

Besides the family, there is one other employee: Travis Gorham of La Grande.