I’m John Ozimec, carpenter and owner of Laneway Millwork.
I started out apprenticing as a carpenter in 1994. A year later, Kobe, Japan, suffered an extremely destructive earthquake that left thousands homeless. Wanting to be useful, I joined a team of carpenters flying to Japan to help rebuild people’s homes. It was meant to be a short-term project, but I found it so rewarding that I stayed for four years.
This experience teaming up with highly skilled Japanese carpenters really influenced how I approach carpentry. We had a language barrier, but I was struck by how it didn’t matter because of our shared clarity of purpose, emphasis on efficiency and mutual support, and disciplined teamwork. I also really appreciated the respect and consideration with which Japanese workers treated each other. I’m grateful for what I learned from my colleagues — from specialized carpentry techniques to approaching every project with efficiency and careful forethought.
Helping people rebuild their lives drove home for me the impact that a pleasing, well-built space can have on people’s wellbeing, and I’ve carried that into everything I’ve done since then. In 1999, I decided to bring everything I’d learnt back home to Toronto and apply it to building beautiful, functional interiors here.
♦ I belong to The Wood Studio Co-operative in Toronto, a member-run community of independent carpenters who specialize in custom woodworking.