Made in Eastern Iowa: The art of stocking the ideal kitchen

By  | 

VINTON, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The work goes on deep inside of a garage in Benton County, with a marketing plan that extends to the deep recesses of the world.

The BoWood Company, in Vinton, produces high-end kitchen products, such as utensils and cutting boards.

TJ Bowen and Payton Schirm are the co-founders of BoWood Company, where their creations and creativity try to craft the perfect kitchen.

“My wife was the one who, initially, brought the idea to us because she was a food blogger,” said Schirm, who handles much of the marketing and outreach to get the word out. “She worked with another company that made some utensils and said ‘you should really look into doing this’. So we made some cutting boards and some wooden utensils and started the word of mouth. We got to the point where we reached out to the (Cedar Rapids) Farmers’ Market downtown and NewBo and grew into the online presence.”

It is in those settings – where the masses casually stroll by – that people indulge their curiosity and think about cutting boards, utensils and exotic woods.

“Cooks are a big thing,” said Bowen, who said he made a cutting board for his sister-in-law and that the idea kept growing. “You see a lot of chefs come by and they’ll stare at our stuff for a while. Some of them stare for quite a while and they’ll end up buying something but they get worried about using something in their kitchen because they’d use it professionally and they’re worried that it would disappear, that someone would take it.”

Letting the world know about BoWood has led the two on trips throughout the region, most recently to Kansas City and Boulder, Colorado. That is the marketing element of this, far from Vinton, where Bowen talked about how he got into this.

“My stepdad has been in carpentry and I started working with him when I was 18 or so and I’ve been doing this for 16 years,” said Bowen. “The last eight years we’ve gotten into custom cabinetry.”

As the skills have grown, so has the formula for what makes a cutting board that BoWood is proud of. Schirm took us through the process.

“We have a wood butter, a mixture of oil and bees’ wax that we get and melt that together and that’s the final coating which helps to give it a final, waterproof seal that helps it last longer,” said Schirm. “This is probably the most rewarding part of it, the work that goes into it and the final product that pops up.”

You can learn more about their product by visiting