Business Heats Up in Fireplace Mantel Maker’s Wintry Workshop

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Cory Jenkins of Funda-Mantels builds fireplace mantels by hand.

While business is busy all year round in this wintry workshop, it’s been peak season at Funda-Mantels, which makes fireplace mantels.

The Ridge-based company makes more than 1,000 fireplace mantels – frames for fireplaces – a year, including as many as 30 a week during peak season leading up to Christmas. Five people work to get mantels and bookcases ready for deadlines.

“There’s always a rush before Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says the company’s owner, Cory Jenkins, 43, who’s been in the business since age 17. “I’m swamped in the winter. Once the cold hits, that’s it.”

Although Jenkins is sometimes contacted through his website, the company sells through six showrooms on Long Island, two on Staten Island, two in New Jersey, and one in Queens. 

“It means warmth, not just the sense of heat,” Jenkins says of the appeal of fireplaces. “It makes a house more welcoming.”

Workers spend from one to three hours making every mantel, followed by finishing that takes a few days.

“I have customers who send me pictures of mantels they’ve seen and ask if I can make this. We can do pretty much anything,” Jenkins says. “Somebody wanted a mantel from a movie. We duplicated it.”

While traditional fireplaces burn wood, Jenkins says gas is now the norm.

“When you burn wood in a fireplace, it actually pulls the heat from the house,” he says. “Gas is the way to go. You can heat your house with a gas fireplace.”

Some people order mantels even though they don’t have fireplaces.

Jenkins started working for Frank Turrigiano, who came from Sicily and started Funda-Mantels.

Jenkins worked for Turrigiano for 27 years and bought the business a year ago. Since then, white mantels have replaced the stained mantels of the past. Poplar, which has no grain or pores, is typically painted, while oak, cherry, mahogany, cedar, pine, walnut and ash are also used.

Jenkins loves making mantels to adorn fireplaces, but that doesn’t mean he’s a huge fan of winter weather.

“I hate the cold and the snow,” Jenkins says. “And here I am making fireplace mantels. I love this, so I’ll deal with the cold.”

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