John Atkins founded Atkins Millwork in 1989 after spending the formative years of his career working in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. During the 1980's, the City of Philadelphia offered historic restoration incentives to businesses and individuals in the Old City/ Society Hill sections of the city. This increased a need for woodworkers skilled in period restoration, and provided a crash course for John in the style, patterns and techniques of the period. Coupled with John's fierce interest in architectural design, his early experience gave him a well-rounded background in both modern architecture and historic, period restoration.
"I've always had a profound desire to design and build things. As a teen, I was drawn to woodworking, but there was no legacy of woodworkers in my family, so there was no one in my inner-circle from whom I could learn. I set out with little more than my enthusiasm and an ambition to find a mentor."
John found his first job as an apprentice for a master violin-maker, and it was in that shop where he learned exacting precision and great attention to detail. "Violins are non-linear, organic 3-D forms that need to be created to the exact specifications of the formula the master gives you. I was a young kid, and the work was challenging. It wasn't enough to say 'Okay, I'll try to do this.' If I tried and failed to meet the scrutiny of my master, I didn't get paid. This may sound a bit Draconian, but not getting paid for a week's work is a strong incentive to pay closer attention the next time. I learned a lot about discipline and precision during this time."
Ultimately, John's love of architecture and dreams of building large structures drew him away from working in the violin shop and towards working in architectural millwork. "I've always wanted to build things bigger than me, and love the linear, 3-D forms of building large entrance ways and the like. Architectural millwork has always been my calling." The transition into architectural woodwork lit a fire to learn and absorb all he could. By his mid twenties, John was running a crew for a Philadelphia construction firm conceiving of efficient and elegant ways to deliver hand-crafted custom work on a deadline and within the budget. John remained at the firm for several years growing the shop from a small one-room production area to a 6,000 square foot factory with a complete crew.
For Almost 30 Years
Since getting the entrepreneurial itch in 1989, John's never looked back. Delivering beautiful custom doors, windows, and interiors (libraries, cabinetry, fireplace surrounds, staircases) is John's passion and the mission of Atkins Millwork. Whether working with designers and architects to realize their vision, or creating flawless, beautiful designs for his clients, John ensures that Atkins Millwork delivers superior, custom work that his clients will treasure and enjoy for years to come.
Atkins Millwork has had the distinction of working with some of the city's most renowned designers and architects, of creating custom-designed doors, windows and woodwork for esteemed Philadelphia restaurants and businesses, and of restoring beauty to countless historical homes throughout the city and surrounding area.
About John S. Atkins, Proprietor & Master Woodworker
Ask John why he became a woodworker and he'll tell you he had a calling. "When I was a young man I would tell everyone I knew 'I really want to do this.'" John applies the same zeal and passion to the rest of his life as he does to his craft. An avid fly fisherman, he travels along the east coast to fish some of the richest rivers and streams nature has to offer, and he has even spent three weeks fishing in Alaska at the height of salmon season. Looking for any excuse to be on the water, John takes out his hand-made canoe at every opportunity to recharge and renew.