Wooden Cane Production, A Family Affair
Rod & Staff in Corfu combines form and function
By Lynette M. Loomis
How can anything so beautiful be so useful?
That’s a common question asked of Bev Myers, owner of Rod & Staff, LLC in Corfu, which creates colorful, handcrafted wooden canes and walking sticks.
Myers didn’t aspire to be the president of a company. She and her husband, Guy, purchased the business in 2006, but when her husband died suddenly in 2012, she took the helm.
Rod & Staff is a very specialized business. Its products are both artistic and functional. The canes are custom cut for each person and the orthopedic handle is made to match the rest of the cane.
Despite their beauty, the canes are designed to support people’s weight and meet very specific standards. The company also creates hiking sticks, sporting seats, drumsticks, lacrosse sticks, fan pulls, cork-its, rolling pins, barrettes, yo-yos, spinning tops, sporting calls (duck, goose and deer), and brooms.
Myers, age 57, relies on her entire family for help.
Her 88-year-old father, Pete, makes all the sporting seats (hundreds in a year), and cuts all the cane blanks on a table saw. He also cuts out, sands and drills all the cane handles.
“I enjoy going out and working in the shop because it gives me something to do and I like helping my daughter. It also gives me a sense of worth and keeps me healthy,” said Pete.
Bev Myers purchases wood, attends and sets up all the shows, continues to expand her knowledge of wood and does the final sanding on the canes and handles. Sales originate from three areas: wholesale (small shops and large companies); website (rodandstaffllc.com); and high-end art and crafts shows.
Myers is the face of the business at festivals. “I am trying to do as many as two to three days local shows as I can,” she said.
Her daughter Janoah glues all the handles on the canes and does the hand painting. Her son Brandon has “taught me everything that I know, one part at a time. He is really the one who knows everything and has been very gracious in keeping me going. My cousin, Lyle, helps whenever I need him. He comes to run machines and prep sand. He turns all the bowls, pens, rolling pins and drumsticks.”
Made in U.S.A.
The products come in roughly two dozen color combinations and the wood is dyed and laminated by a plywood company in Maine. They have been the supplier for about nine years. Customers appreciate that the products are made in America, Myers said.
Steve Vandermaille was in a grocery store in Rochester and noticed a man walking with a beautifully shaped and colorful cane. He approached the gentleman to see where he bought the cane and the man was eager to make the referral. “My cousin in Florida has had a knee replacement and was using the usual wood cane,”
Vandermaille said. “I was so impressed by the unique design and exceptional quality of the cane I ordered a cane for him from Rod & Staff as a birthday gift. With his second replacement coming up, the cane will be well used.”
Myers said the hiking sticks have become more popular as people try to remain healthy. “One of my customers sent an article that states walking with a hiking stick [like the Europeans have done for years] promotes stability, endurance and better heart health,” she said.
“I received a phone call from Sidney H. Sobel, a doctor in Rochester who has purchased several of my canes. He went on to say how much he loves my canes and gets stopped all the time. It dawned on me to ask him to email me the compliments that he was giving me.”
The doctor responded in an email, “Nearly every day I that I carry my Rod & Staff cane, I receive a comment about how beautiful it is and a question about where I got it. Over the years, I have collected several of your canes and a wonderful solid cherry walking stick. Each one gives me great pleasure.
“One of these days I shall drive to Corfu from my home in Rochester to meet you and give you a big hug, and to tell you how much I value your craftsmanship and artistry each day as I carry the cane that you crafted.”
“You never know where life will take you. I have been fortunate to have the support of my family in my business and enjoy the contact I have with my customers. My motivation to continue is the fact that I get to see the joy in customers’ eyes, especially cane users, when they can purchase a cane that is beautiful, stable and fit for them. They continue to return year after year for a ‘new addition’ to their collection. That is why I love the business,” Myers said.
Photo: Canes made by Rod & Staff are custom cut for each person and the orthopedic handle is made to match the rest of the cane.