Your Window Door Guy: Alex MacKenzie

Alex MacKenzie

What is your name and where are you from?

Alex MacKenzie and I grew up in Pendleton, Oregon.

What is your position with Versatile, and how long have you worked here?

Alex MacKenzie: I am a “fenestration consultant”, aka window and door sales team member, and have been here for 3 years. I worked in the shop for about 6 months when I first started with Versatile.

Alex MacKenzie
Alex, left, with Eusebiu in the shop.
How long have you been doing this?

Alex MacKenzie: Almost 10 years!

How or why did you start in the custom window and door business?

Alex MacKenzie: I started out of university. I studied western architectural history and had worked for the maintenance department, so the career services guru matched me with a sales position with one of the world’s largest window and door manufacturers. After that position relocated me to Portland, I developed a relationship with Arciform, and that eventually led me to Versatile.

What is the most memorable project you worked on and why?

Alex MacKenzie: The Witherspoon Building – it was the first commercial project where I independently managed the sales aspect.

Alex MacKenzie
The Witherspoon Building on SW 4th Ave in Portland, OR.
What was the most challenging project you worked on and why?

Alex MacKenzie: The Zipper – we placed our bid but were only awarded the project a year later. This meant our original quote, which included having Versatile complete all of the work, was out of date. The industry picked up and the design had changed, so we needed to outsource some of the work. Creative Woodworking NW took care of the simple millworking which allowed us to honor our initial quote.

What is your favorite wood species to work with and why?

Alex MacKenzie: Soft wood: Vertical grain Doug Fir. It has a natural rot resistance that is not found in other soft woods and it darkens naturally over time with UV exposure. Hard wood: Sapele. The “African Mahogany” is durable, machines nicely and looks beautiful.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

Alex MacKenzie: I like food. Specifically burgers, and I’m committed to finding the best burger in Portland. Currently on the top of my list are the Yakuza, Le Pigeon and Grüner burgers. Because I like food so much, I stay active and am always seeking adventures.

Alex MacKenzie
Alex, left, with an Arciform/Versatile team at the Spring Classic Duathlon in 2013.

Interested in having one of our talented team members create your next custom piece? Contact to start your quote.

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Block House Café: Case Study

 block house cafe

In the heart of historic Dayton Oregon, The Block House Café recently moved into the 1886 First Baptist Church on Main Street. Working alongside architect Paul Falsetto and Fackler Construction, Versatile created a large back bar with surrounding cabinetry, wait-station, and tabletops from old floor joists in the building.

Block House Café Goals:

To create a large, functional, and aesthetically pleasing back bar that hides the seismic bracing. Re-purpose original floor joists to create tabletops and a bar top.

 Block House Café

Block House Café Challenges:

The biggest challenge we faced with the back bar, which included 10’ high walnut pieces, was installation to conceal three alcoves that were created by updated seismic structuring. The tabletops and bar top proposed a few challenges. They were created from wood salvaged from the original floor joists from the building. We were concerned about the tabletops cupping or warping. We needed to create a flat, smooth surface on the bar top as there were many wormholes in the wood.

The Block House Café

Block House Café Uniquely Versatile Solutions:

We worked around installation problems of the bar by pre-building it in 3 separate pieces. Along with some tolerances to allow for variations in the walls when it was installed on site. The three pieces overlapped once installed to look like one piece of furniture while hiding the bracing behind.

To address the tabletops potentially warping, we added a dovetail key underneath to tie the planks together. By attaching the key to the middle plank only, the planks could expand and contract naturally, but not warp or cup. And finally, to create a smooth, flat surface on the bar top. The wormholes were filled with clear epoxy rather than a colored putty. Since the natural color of fir changes over time, the clear epoxy will make a smooth surface without worry that the wood color would ultimately shift away from the color of the putty. Versatile’s experience and expertise allowed us to anticipate potential issues and create solutions before they became real problems on site.

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