John Van Vliet and Amanda McDaniel, the father and daughter team running the Shenandoah Planing Mill, have weathered the pandemic and are eager to continue expanding their vision to build a sustainable-scale manufacturing hub for a local woodworking industry. After two years of operation, the mill has grown to host several other businesses that fit into the collaborative model that takes in raw logs at the back of the building and can deliver finished furniture, molding, and other wood products out the front loading docks.
Van Vliet started out his career in construction sweeping floors, then trained as a carpenter, and eventually retired as a vice president of operations for a large commercial construction company. Somewhere along the way he had a dream of opening a lumber mill. Looking at the mill operations today at the old Winchester Cold Storage property just outside of Charles Town, the dream has come to life.
McDaniel oversees the business side of the mill. For her, the vision extends beyond just processing wood. “I want to see Jefferson County grow in a healthy way, to add sustainable jobs so the people who grow up here can thrive and not get pushed out. My passion is the people we work with. We see this as an incubator space for small business owners with big plans. When we all work together, we all do better.”Steve Pearson