Main menu


Woodworking Wonders: Teenage Brainerd Turns Hobby Into Business - Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — There’s barely enough time in a day and a week for Brandon Eberts to keep up with all his responsibilities and activities.

A sophomore at Brainerd High School, Brandon works at Great River Door Co. after school on non-sailing days and devotes his weekends to Lakeland Woodsmith. The unique part of the final venture is that Brandon can call it his own. Last summer, when he was just 14 years old, he started a woodworking business.

“Sometimes it can be overwhelming,” Brandon said in a Sept. 30 interview.

Having just turned 16 last week, Brandon is busier than ever, creating custom cutting boards, signs, cribbage boards, and other items for his clients.

As he adds more tools to his store of saws, laser engravers, lathes, joiners, planers and sanding equipment, he hopes to increase his product offering.

“I’d like to do a larger custom order, like a coffee table, a dining table, a side table, like basic furniture, but with a twist to make it unique,” he said.

After winning a prize in a recent statewide business contest, Brandon is doing well.

Brainard High School sophomore Brandon Everts stands next to a display of handmade wood products at the 2022 MN Cup hosted by the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. Eberts placed second in the contest, earning him $5,000 for his woodworking business, Lakeland Woodsmith.


Hosted by the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota, the MN Cup is a community-driven public-private partnership that empowers entrepreneurs. The annual competition connects people starting their own businesses with educational opportunities, mentors, and support to get their ventures up and running.

Brandon attended the youth division of the MN Cup this summer and found himself presenting business plans, pitch decks, making videos and spreading his brand. After months of work and presentations, the teenager took his second place and Lakeland made him $5,000 to invest in Woodsmiths.

With a busy schedule of school, work, and extracurricular activities, it’s difficult for him to invest as much time and money in his business, Brandon said.

But his work at Brainerd’s Great River Door, along with other community connections, is also part of what makes Lakeland Woodsmith possible.

Advice on pricing, marketing and more was provided by Great River Door owner Brent Manley. On the other hand, his Chris Smith at his Minnesota Makerspace in Brainerd was a fountain of knowledge in fields such as laser engraving. The business also provides him with more work space and equipment to use when he needs it.

A man stands by a carved door.

On Friday, September 30, 2022, Brent Manley, owner of Great River Door Co. in Brainerd, will showcase his sculpture work.

Teresa Burke / Brainerd Dispatch

“He just has an interest and a desire to build things,” said Manley. “He’s always looking for new ideas.”

But Brandon’s first mentor was someone closer to him.

“I started with Grandpa,” he said. “He bought me a set of tools, and we started building things together: deer stands, signs, little shelves, basic stuff.”

Then I discovered STEM classes in middle school and developed an aptitude in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Learning how to use a laser engraving machine and a computer numerically controlled machine while working with wood in one particular class really piqued his interest.

“Then I made a sign for Minnesota and I realized it could be profitable. Some people offered me hundreds of dollars for it,” Brandon said. “So I thought, ‘I can start doing this to make money.'”

It was a move that initially made parents a bit hesitant, but now Matt and Deb Everts couldn’t be more proud of their son.

“If he has his heart set on something, he’ll go racing,” Matt said. “And I’m really lucky that he chose to put his mind on the positive.”

His son was always a kid with big ideas and couldn’t think small.

“I said, ‘Look, if you want to pursue this, that’s great. “You’re going to have to study it. You’re going to have to research it. If you’re going to sell something, you’re going to have to work,” Matt said.

boy stands next to sign reading

Brainard teenager Brandon Everts poses next to a sign at the 2022 MN Cup, an entrepreneurial program hosted by the University of Minnesota Carleton School of Management.


And Brandon did just that.

By reaching out to local business owners, drawing inspiration from a former teacher, and relying on his grandfather’s wealth of knowledge and the support of his parents, Brandon developed his own business.

“People recognized his excitement and were surprisingly generous in seeding it in a healthy way.

Brandon also appreciates the support, knowing his success would not be possible without it, and encourages other kids with big ideas to follow in the same footsteps.

“You need to find people who know what they’re doing, mentors, business owners, family members who have that experience, and talk to them,” Brandon said.

Brandon’s Lakeland Woodsmith website is a testament to that mentorship, offering his finished and customized cutting boards, serving boards and charcuterie made with the care and precision customers can expect from a professional. Complete with photos of boards, signs and luggage tags.

Even if the product doesn’t turn out exactly the way Brandon envisioned it, there’s a good chance it will end up at his parents’ or grandparents’ home.


or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter.