We are a Family Business

We have fourteen staff at Peterson’s and we very much consider ourselves a family business. Three of us are related by marriage, and the rest of us are *family* by association.

We work together Monday to Friday. On the weekends we can often be found with our Peterson workmates … running, mountainbiking in the Redwoods, playing and supporting rollerderby, sharing the highs and lows of family life.

Chris and I have a second, complementary family business: Aria’s Farm, where we host bed-and-breakfast farmstays.

Aria's Farm sign looking a little TOO RUSTIC
Aria’s Farm sign looking a little TOO RUSTIC, November 2017


We’ve been doing some maintenance recently, and when we took the sign down for a repaint, discovered it really was just a bit too ‘rustic’. I loved that sign, as it had been hand-routed with love by my younger brother Michael fourteen years ago. Mike lives in another city now, so I started ringing around local sign companies.

Times have changed : now it’s CNC wood routers and gpx files and the work is done in the blink of an eye! However, no one with a programmable wood router had the time to make a new sign before Christmas. Farmstay customers were already having trouble finding Aria’s Farm on the edge of town, nestled behind residential properties. Without the distinctive signage, our paradise really would be ‘hidden’!


It was time to get the family business involved. I knew there was some macrocarpa in the yard at work. So I phoned Michael … did he have a day available to do his magic with the hand-lettering again? Funny, he said, he was just looking for some slabs for an entertainment unit…would we trade his routing skills for a macrocarpa slab? Slabs for handiwork? A perfect barter for a portable sawmilling family business.

Step 1. On Monday, Chris uses the double-cutting capability of the 10″ winch production frame mill to cut 20″ wide slabs from a macrocarpa log .  There’s no need for a chainsaw slabbing attachment when you can double-cut up to 20″ in width.  He then swaps out the 10″ blade for a Peterson planer to dress the face of the slab. One pass both thicknesses and planes, and the slab is ready for sanding. Then the planer blade is swapped for the sanding disc. Chris slows the pace to ensure there are no marks left from the blade. Starting with a heavy rough grade sandpaper on the sanding disc, and finishing with a fine grade paper disc, the surface is quickly finished.

Step 2. On Saturday morning, Michael hand-routs the Aria’s Farm wording (and chicken) onto the finished slab, and gives it the thumbs up. I am so in love with the new sign, that I gracefully put up with the painstaking job of vacuuming the sawdust out of the deck cracks left behind…

Hand routing the Aria's Farm sign
Family Business connections – younger brother Michael agrees to rout the Aria’s Farm lettering by hand in exchange for a macrocarpa slab









Step 3. On Monday I start painting. Black for the lettering. Red-brown with white features for the chicken.

Kerris painting the Aria's Farm sign
Kerris painting the Aria’s Farm sign

Then I use a roller to stain the slab surface. By Thursday, the Aria’s Farm sign is finished and can be reinstalled this weekend. Now I just have to wait for Chris to return from his boys’ fishing trip to help put it up.


Working together as a family business, we’ve used the Peterson flagship model – the winch production frame sawmill – to cut the slab and dress the surface for routing and painting. Michael and I added our decorating hand-skills. We’ve achieved our goal – a fresh new signage slab for Aria’s Farm.


New entrance sign for Aria's Farm finished by working within the family business


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