The mission of Bashioum Wood Builds is to provide quality, handmade furniture at an affordable price to Southwest Missouri.
interview JULIE JOHNSON
photographs courtesy of BASHIOUM WOOD BUILDS
His grandfather was a builder: of imaginations, of projects, of service, of a legacy full of honor. “Throughout his life he volunteered for mission work, overseas and locally, and used his woodworking skills to build churches and other projects,” Matt Bashioum says. “He actually helped oversee the construction of several buildings at Evangel University in a volunteer capacity.”
The elder Bashioum also volunteered for the Pennsylvania State Police when he was younger. From that experience, he shared stories with his grandson of helping officers arrest people. “It sparked an interest in me pursuing law enforcement as a career,” Matt says. “I’ve always had a strong desire to help people and to help people fight for justice.”
My grandpa spent a large portion of his life working to serve God by serving others.
Grandpa Bashioum’s influence is deeply rooted in Matt’s life. Matt has been a Springfield police officer for six years. “Working in law enforcement helps to fulfill something I think every person is called to do,” says Matt. “I think everyone should have a role in the community they live in. The Bible calls us to love one another and working in law enforcement, contrary to popular opinion these days, is about loving people and putting others before ourselves.”
Like his grandpa, service to his community and service to others are vital to his calling. With a combined passion of woodworking and loving others, Matt and his wife, Leslie, have turned creating beautiful wood furniture and home décor into a hobby of a business.
“My grandpa had a large wood shop behind his house that had all kinds of tools,” Matt says. “Every time my family came to Springfield to visit him, there was a new project my grandpa, my dad and I would work on. It was always neat to watch him turn a pile of lumber into something useful for their home. My grandpa helped me build several small projects throughout the years and helped teach me the basics of woodworking.”
> Matt Bashioum <
LEFT Matt and his wife, Leslie TOP Matt, Leslie and their sons.
Julie: When did you begin dreaming of creating meaningful wood products and selling them? What did you have to overcome between the dreaming and the coming true?
Matt: For the last couple of years, I had thought it would be cool to have my own woodworking business, mostly as a hobby. It was always a goal, but I was living in apartments and never had a space to do work.
My wife and I were able to purchase a house, but then life got busy with fostering two teenagers and wasn’t able to start up a business. I eventually found myself working some extra overtime at work to pay for extra vacations and big purchase goals. During the fall of 2020, after working through the pandemic and the changing views on police, I decided it would be a good time to take a break from working overtime and find passions outside of the policing world.
I had some older tools that had been passed down to me after my grandpa passed away that would get me by with some small projects. My first few paid projects went to my mother-in-law, who so far is still my biggest customer. After I made my first farmhouse-style table, my business really began starting to take off. Over time, I was able to upgrade my equipment and tools and have been able to take on bigger and more detailed projects.
Each new project brings up new challenges, mostly with needing a new tool to help accomplish the project easier and produce a better project.
Julie: Is there a story from your law enforcement career that says, “He/she did _____, so I can do _____”?
Matt: From the very start of my police career, I had to look at others and tell myself that I could accomplish what they could. The police academy is really hard work. It’s very physically and emotionally taxing. I’ve never been the best at running, and nearly every day of the police academy challenged me to the maximum, but I had to tell myself that if others around me could accomplish the goals, I could too.
Julie: How does Bashioum Wood Builds meet your need to serve others? How does this honor your grandpa?
Matt: I’ve had a couple opportunities to serve others with Bashioum Wood Builds. In the spring of 2020, an officer in my department, Ofc. Mark Priebe, was responding to a disturbance at our headquarters when he was intentionally struck and ran over by a vehicle, leaving him paralyzed and wheelchair bound.
I was approached by his wife, Heather, after she saw that I had been making custom tables. The Priebes were unable to find a table that would allow for his wheelchair to fit under. I was able to make them a custom farmhouse table that was built to allow him to eat dinner with his family. I was also able to secure a donation to cover the cost of supplies, so we were able to provide the table at no cost to the Priebe family.
I think giving back to the community with my business is exactly how my grandpa would run a business if he had ever created one. He spent a large portion of his life working to serve God by serving others.
Julie: How important of a moment was that for you when you were tasked to build a table for Ofc. Priebe and his family?
Matt: Building Ofc. Priebe a table was one of the most important projects I’ve had the opportunity to build. When I delivered the table to the Priebe family, I learned they had not been able to have dinner as a family at one table since his injury. In the home I grew up in, there was always a huge emphasis on eating dinner together as a family. It was so amazing knowing I was able to help bring back that ability for that special moment.
Not only was it special I was able to make a table for a fellow officer, but the publicity for my business also exploded after the table was posted on social media by Ofc. Priebe’s wife. Since that table, I have been receiving new orders and much more social media attention.
Julie: When thinking about wood products, what are some vital details people often overlook in planning?
Matt: There’s a lot that goes into building a large project. Right now, one of the biggest factors is the price of wood. Wood prices have been skyrocketing due to supply chain issues. Finding good, quality wood at a reasonable price has made a little extra work for each project. Also, a lot of people don’t realize how long some projects take to make. A regular dining room table could take anywhere from 15-20 hours to complete, which as a part time gig, it can end up taking several weeks for each project.
One of the biggest things I have seen after starting a woodworking business is that there will always be someone who makes a similar project for less, but it all comes down to quality. For a project to be made right, it takes time and quality wood. I’ve had customers come to me after purchasing a similar project, but the project they purchased for much cheaper didn’t last.
Julie: What do you want Southwest Missouri to know about you?
Matt: I would want Southwest Missouri to know I really enjoy making one-of-a-kind projects for customers.
The business doesn’t run without making a profit to cover expenses, but honestly the best part of making a project for a customer is seeing how much they love it after it’s been delivered.
And also that I love serving the community as a police officer, and that the police officers who work in this area are very thankful of the support the community shows us on a daily basis. We are very lucky to have such an amazing community to serve.