Made in Michigan: Holland Bowl Mill

Published: Sep. 13, 2017 at 3:29 PM EDT
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(09/13/17) - Many homes across the country have beautiful wooden bowls in their dining rooms and kitchens. Chances are they come from the Holland Bowl Mill in Michigan, the largest commercial wooden bowl maker in the United States.

Every week, the Holland Bowl Mill turns out 800 to 1,000 wooden bowls. They are used for everything from decorations to serving salad. They go through a lot of trees here. 95% of them come from Michigan.

“Being part of Michigan, being from Holland, we like to keep everything local, keep all that lumber coming from Michigan.” said Kori Gier of Holland Bowl Mill.

Visitors tour the mill and see pieces of wood turned into bowls of all sizes.

“We're getting three or four bowls out of one chunk of wood, which is pretty good.” said Mark Armstrong who is a big lathe bowl maker.

The process is a little loud and creates lots of shavings. Don't worry, those shaving will be used by local farmers for stable bedding. Not every piece of wood becomes a bowl. Even the best lathe operator can have an off day. Things go better if the logs have been soak in water for several hours.

“The more moisture you can have in a log the better day you're going to have turning them.” said Armstrong.

After the bowl is shaped it goes into a sanding room where through several steps it's smoothed out and given a flat bottom. A wide variety of wood can become a Holland bowl.

“Cherry by far is the most intricate grain pattern. it just seems to resonate with the customer the best.” said Gier

After they've been sanded smooth, the bowls are dipped in mineral oil and allowed to dry. Eventually they are stacked for shipping.

“Our bowls are carried on the west coast, the east coast. We have some larger retailers like Crate and Barrel. We see every type of person in our store. There's a bowl for everyone. There's a bowl from $10 to $500.” said Gier.

And they can be used in a variety of way.

“Salad tastes best out of a wooden bowl/ Having a wooden bowl can be used as a centerpiece on our table, as a decor. They're very, very versatile.” said Gier

They take pride in personalizing the bowl on request.

“We offer free engraving on the bottom underside of the bowl.” said Gier

The Gier family has owned the Holland Bowl Mill since 1985 and they would never think of leaving the state.

“Michigan is an amazing place to have a small business.” said Gier

And they take pride in being an important part of the west Michigan economy.

“Everyone likes to support the small business. Keep the money here in Holland and here in Michigan.” said Gier

The next time you're in Holland, get the free tour and pick up a Holland Bowl that's Made in Michigan.

Visit their website by clicking the link in the related links section of this story.