WICHITA — Years ago, Bob Clark remodeled an old dairy barn for Rick and Teresa Farber’s Homeplace business, never guessing that he’d one day have his own business in the building.
That’s what’s happening now, though.
“I knew how nice it was, and I knew the building was empty,” Clark says of the building on the northeast corner of 95th Street South and Rock Road.
He’s opening a showroom for his Clarks Log Furniture, a custom-design cedar furniture business he’s been operating out of a shop at his house.
The showroom, which opens May 15, is the realization of a dream that started with Clark’s late namesake son.
“There’s a lot to the story, actually,” says Clark, who is known as Big Bob.
His son, who died in June, was known as Lil’ Bob.
Clark and his wife, Tiffany, have three children who were born with cystic fibrosis.
Lil’ Bob’s twin, Susan, died in 2006.
Logan, 17, is a junior in high school.
Tiffany Clark says a friend helped Lil’ Bob begin building furniture while he was still in high school “since he really couldn’t go out in the job field with his illness. He wanted to do something from home.”
His father eventually joined him.
Bob Clark used to have Bob Clark Construction, but the business suffered with the economy.
“I made a lot more money in construction when it was booming,” he says.
“I’m trying to get there with this,” Clark says of the furniture business.
In addition, he says, “I enjoy this way more. It’s a lot more rewarding.”
He builds “whatever pops in my head.”
“I don’t want to build what someone else has built already,” Clark says.
When making, say, a chair, he might measure it for height, “and then let my imagination take over.”
Logan is now helping him.
“He is helping his dad fulfill what was Lil’ Bob’s dream,” Tiffany Clark says.
“He’s very talented himself,” Bob Clark says of Logan. “He’s involved in … every aspect of it really.”
He hopes to get a dust-free sanding room for his son.
“It all takes money.”
The Clarks will still work out of a shop at their rural Belle Plaine house, but they’ll show their furniture and take custom orders on weekends at the showroom.
Tiffany Clark says she believes Lil’ Bob would approve.
“He would be excited,” she says. “He’s the kind of kid that always pushed forward and wanted to make things work.
“He would be proud that we are pushing forward for him.”