In the southeast corner of our woodshop one rarely hears much talking or idle chit-chat. But investigate the steady sound of various woodworking tools and the sight of some spectacular console or casework taking shape and you’ll find a sawdust-covered cabinetmaker efficiently taking care of business in one of the most productive areas of the Dobson shop. Meet Randy Hausman, a cabinetmaker who’s been with the firm for over 17 years and has played a significant part in building the hallmark organ cases that have earned Dobson an enviable reputation.
One of five children, Randy grew up on the family farm in rural Halbur, Iowa. His father and grandfather taught him the hard work of farming, as well as carpentry and woodworking. He fondly remembers the fine cabinetmaking skills he learned from his grandfather, perhaps a holdover from the skills Randy’s great-grandfather brought from Germany some years before. High school industrial arts courses rounded out the skills he learned at home. Randy attended a junior college for a few months, but soon determined that wasn’t for him. Back at home it was time to decide if he wanted to take over the family farm. But the farm was small, land was expensive, and the work was never-ending. “I just didn’t think it was the sort of work I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he recalls. In 1974 he decided instead to start his own carpentry business (coincidentally the same year Lynn Dobson hung out his shingle in Lake City). If his father was inwardly disappointed with Randy’s decision, he outwardly affirmed it by buying the newest carpenter in Halbur a radial arm saw.
After some years on his own, Randy met Raylene Wine from Lake City. They were married in 1987 and moved to their present home on Jefferson Street. After learning they were expecting a child in 1988, both became concerned about the up-and-down financial nature of self-employment. Randy began to look for a job, preferably a place where he could put his skills to good use, but mostly for the prospect of a steady income and benefits. After trying a few local builders and cabinetmakers, Raylene suggested he check at Dobson.
He came to the shop in September 1988. It was a busy place: the increasing number of contracts and an employee illness had left the shop shorthanded. Then foreman Tom Kult and his crew were hard pressed to take down, finish, pack and ship an organ. Randy spoke with Tom, showed him some pictures of his work, asked if there might be a job available some time. Randy was hired on the spot! It didn’t take long for Tom and the others to see Randy’s skills and willingness to work, and he was gradually given more and more advanced projects. As he says, “The work was similar to the cabinetmaking I had been doing, just on a larger and more ornate scale.” Initially he thought he’d stay two or three years, but the steady income, good working conditions and challenging projects have kept him here these 17 years.
Randy’s favorite sort of work is the challenge of making some of the unique parts of the casework that Dobson has become known forthe more unique, the better! He is the shop wood turner, creating on the lathe everything from a delicate knob for a console drawer to a two-foot-tall urn that graces the pediment of our Op. 80 (II/26; 2004) in Washington, D.C. He quickly cites the stage console for Verizon Hall, with its compound curves, extensive veneering and complex structural components, as his most challenging project to date. Randy expresses a sense of pride and accomplishment with the recent large projects that have earned the company international acclaim, but at this writing he’s enjoying the building of a modest case for Op. 82 (II/17) for Chapel Hill, N.C.
Randy’s favorite pastime is collecting vintage post cards. He has some 5,000 of them in his collection now and favors German-made greeting, birthday and holiday cards from between 1910 and 1920. He regularly attends auctions, garage sales and flea markets in order to add to his collection. Though not his particular favorite sort of postcard, the so called “town view” style is very hot on eBay, and Randy enjoys the challenge and rewards available from buying and selling them.
The first child the Hausmans expected back in 1988 turned out to be twinstwo handsome boys, Brent and Trent, now 16. They share Randy’s enjoyment of classic rock music and have both become proficient on the guitar. They also keep Raylene a busy stay-at-home mom. Rounding out the Hausman household are Raylene’s two dogs, a Pekingese and a Peke-A-Poo (Pekingese/Poodle mix).
A man of few words and happy to avoid the spotlight, Randy would be satisfied if this biography read simply, “Very quiet and hard working.” If you’d like a more eloquent description of his character and skills, an examination of a Dobson organ case will tell you all you need to know.
drawn from The Organbuilder, Fall 2005
Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd.
Site conception by metaglyph
All contents ©19992016 Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd.