Roselle man crafts an unusual new career after losing sales job

A Roselle man who lost his sales job turned his woodworking hobby into an unusual new business.

In an effort to make Custom Crafted Wood work, the father of three daughters knew he needed to find a niche. Steve Shannon found a specialized market in making urns for funeral homes and pet crematoriums.

Shannon is taking an artistic twist in making the urns. He segments many pieces of wood together to create urns that come in three sizes. For more than two months Shannon, 46, has been building his inventory in his wood shop at his Roselle home, and now he's marketing the concept to funeral homes and pet crematoriums, where he says the concept is going over well.

The urns range in price from $200 for a small vessel to $900 for the large size.

Each urn is custom-made by hand.

"Each one is totally different. I'm not doing it on automated equipment," Shannon said. "People really like that the urns are made here in the United States."

About 95 percent of urns on the general market are made in China and are usually metal, ceramic or marble, he said.

"Funeral directors like the urns, because they're personal and they can be ordered in small quantities," Shannon said.

He added that his wife, Lisa, and daughters are assisting with the business.

The concept for the business developed when Shannon was making bowls and vases that he was selling in an Arizona art studio. A friend who works as a funeral director saw his work and suggested the idea for the custom urns.

Later, when Shannon lost his sales job, he decided to turn the concept into a full-time business. His love of woodworking developed when he was in high school at Proviso West in Hillside. He then spent about 20 years working as a tool and die maker before getting into sales.

He always made furniture and other wood pieces as a hobby.

"I always enjoyed woodworking, but never found the right niche, until now," Shannon said.

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Steve Shannon makes decorative wood urns from his wood shop in Roselle. Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer