Brian Domon, 54, knows a lot about chain saws. He said his curiosity was piqued over years of cutting firewood. His interest in small-engine repair, meanwhile, came from his grandfather, who owned a shop in Forestville in Chautauqua County. It seemed only natural for Domon to start a similar enterprise.
Woodcutters Headquarters was launched 30 years ago in a two-car garage with the help of Domon’s father. The business and Domon’s residence are located on 89 acres in Akron. His hunting cabin in the Southern Tier was built on 40 acres. Domon, his wife and their two teen daughters thrive on country living, and enjoy the opportunities it affords.
Today, this hard-working man and his three-person staff sell and service all kinds of chain saws and small machines. During this fall season, his shop rocks.
People Talk: Why do people make such a big deal of chain saws for Halloween?
Brian Domon: I haven’t figured that out. It started when the first “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” movie came out in the ’70s. I never saw it. I’m not into the blood and gore of Halloween. Chain saws scare people. It’s the wow factor.
PT: Because of the sound?
BD: Because of the chain going around at 70 mph. Each tooth is capable of taking one inch of skin. In one second, one tooth can hit you six times. In less than a second you could cut your leg off. Ask anybody who has ever been hit by a chain saw.
PT: Did you know that chain saws are linked each year to 40,000 deaths and injuries in this country?
BD: We get customers in on a daily basis telling us they got hit by a chain saw – their leg got touched and they had 20 stitches. I have a pair of [protective] chaps that got hit by a chain saw. There are a lot of guys in the cemetery who didn’t wear a pair of chaps. Too heavy, too expensive, or they think they won’t get hurt. Do I wear them? I’m not going to lie, I don’t. Should I? Absolutely. Why don’t I get hurt? I’m just too darn lucky.
PT: There is a demand for chain saws?
BD: A very big demand: firewood cutting, tree services, utilities, municipalities, the state. We do almost a million dollars worth of business a year through this place – with three employees.
PT: What about chain saws appealed to you?
BD: I loved cutting firewood, and I was looking for a less expensive way to keep chains sharpened and to buy chains for myself. The business actually grew from a two-car garage across the street. I like to work. I’m a hard-working fool. I’ve had 16 surgeries to prove it from all the beating up of my body.
PT: Have you had any chain-saw mishaps?
BD: No, I’ve just worn out my body. I’ve had carpal-tunnel – both hands; the surgery is terrible. I’ve had three shoulder surgeries because of running a chain saw, and hoofing wood. I’ve had two knee replacements. It’s not that I wanted to have all these things done, but I couldn’t walk anymore. I actually need a hip now, too. I had stage-four arthritis.
PT: What’s the newest thing in chain saws?
BD: Battery-powered chain saws are the latest technology. They’ve only been out two years now. It’s something that needed to be done. The aging population can’t start a chain saw, and when they went to the battery-powered chains some of my older customers were happy they could cut wood again – or trim their own little trees. Battery-powered chains do not last as long as gasoline powered, but there are no emissions.
PT: I can’t help but think that older adults should not be handling chain saws.
BD: I had a customer as old as 93. His children said he was a totally different person because it gave him his independence back. He lived for two years longer. I actually sold a chain saw to a woman who was 103.
PT: She gave it away as a gift?
BD: No, she used it herself. She lived in Corfu, died two years ago. That woman was a wealth of information. She was a typical old farm wife. She wore the shirts her husband wore. She wore the pants her husband wore. I didn’t know she was as old as she was. I thought she was 70.
PT: Why are all chain saws made for right-handed people?
BD: I’ve been in this business since 1979, and I’ve been asked that question a couple hundred times. The reason I was told by the companies is that there is such a small number of left-handed people who use a chain saw that it’s not cost-effective for companies to build left-handed chain saws.
PT: Describe your personality.
BD: I can be nice when I want to be and I can be mean when I want to be. That’s the truth. If you come to me with a really bad attitude, that’s what you’re going to get back. I don’t like being yelled at more than anyone else. It’s not my fault when something goes wrong. I didn’t build the chain saw, and I didn’t break it.
PT: What do you do for fun?
BD: I hunt. I shoot sporting clays, skeet, trap. I rifle shoot. I have a camp down in the Southern Tier. I actually placed into the money at Bradford, Pa., in the Fall Ironman Shoot. My children are into shooting as well. My oldest daughter goes down to the cabin with me. She got her first deer two years ago when she was 15. My youngest daughter could have taken a deer two weeks ago during youth shotgun season. It’s something they started this year, and youth pheasant season.
PT: Your passion is hunting.
BD: Yes. I actually drive from here to South Dakota for pheasant. I just love to hunt. Actually my brother is back in my woods right now. He lives in Illinois and he comes here once a year for a month. I have deer, turkey – geese when they fly overland. We have squirrels. Down in my cabin we have grouse, woodcock. Anything I shoot I eat, no matter what it is.
PT: No kidding.
BD: Ask my wife. Two years ago me and a friend went to Illinois on a snow goose hunt. Those are the worst-tasting things on the planet. They tasted like mud.
PT: How do you know what mud tastes like?
BD: Didn’t you ever eat mud when you were a kid? I did.