We all have hobbies. But most of us tend to put those hobbies aside, in order to make a living. This is not the case for Steve Willis—who has managed to have an impressive and successful career, while still being able to participate in his hobby and develop his craft. What is this hobby? Woodworking.
Willis was born in San Luis Valley in Colorado and spent his first 12 years there. After that, he moved to Tenrose, Colorado where he spent his middle school years. He then did his high school in Rye, Colorado, before moving to Pueblo, Colorado to attend the University Of Southern Colorado.
Willis attended the University Of Southern Colorado from 1983 to 1989, where he graduated with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. Shortly after graduating, Willis moved to the Houston area and started his career in Information Technology on August 1, 1989. “I remember because I started my job on the same day that Hurricane Chantal made landfall”, Willis told me.
In the IT field, Willis worked for several companies, including MD Anderson, Quantum Access, and Hines Interests. During this time he also worked in several capacities, including as a programmer and as a software systems support specialist. After spending many years working in the IT field—which he left in 2004—he began to work in consulting. In 2005, Willis joined Rockler—a woodworking and hardware store—and eventually worked his way up to being store manager. When he became store manager he decided to step away from consulting and focus more on managing. After spending five years in Rockler—four of which were spent as a store manager—he left the company in 2010. After leaving Rockler he went to work at Home Depot, and was there until 2016, which is when he ended up at his current position as assistant manager of Wal-Mart in La Marque.
But it was 11 years before he started working at Rockler, that Steve found his passion for woodworking. “It started when someone gifted me a subscription to Time Life’s series on Home Improvement,” he told me. “The volume I got was on basic woodworking techniques and I decided to give them a try.” Willis told me that his first foray into woodworking was when he fashioned a bookcase out of an old waterbed frame. “The top of the bookcase was the headboard of the waterbed,” he told me.
23 years later, Willis is still in the business of woodworking. He told me that he has made furniture, pens, jewelry boxes, cutting boards, candy dispensers and more. We were introduced to him in July during an event at Wal-Mart and—after learning about his talents—we knew we had to showcase his skills to all of you. Willis hopes to grow his woodworking so that—on retirement—he can make it a source of income.
If you would like to view, and possibly purchase, Willis’ works, then visit his Facebook page: 3LW Pens. Come out to the Art Walk on October 28th so that you can see his works firsthand.