Tulsa Man Creates Wood Workshop For Deaf Workforce

Friday, May 27th 2022, 4:48 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

A Tulsa man has created some beautiful custom woodwork with the help of a special team. 

Everyone that Joe Erwin hires for his woodworking business is deaf, but Joe said it's never slowed them down. Workers at Erwin Custom Woodworks create beautiful cabinets, staircases, and more, and while his employees may not be able to hear, they can do everything else.

It’s a loud and busy morning inside the Erwin Custom Woodworks Workshop. Workers saw wood, piece together panels, and get the job done. The noises don’t bother these workers– they are all deaf and use sign language to communicate.

"I don't want to have that language barrier for my company," said Erwin.

Joseph Erwin is legally deaf but uses hearing aids and reads lips to listen and communicate with people who can hear. He has been woodworking and hiring and training deaf workers for decades.

“I’ve trained at least 10 deaf people that have gone off and did their own thing now," said Erwin. 

Erwin said one of his workers was fired from his job of 20 years by a new boss because he was deaf.

"He's a great worker. Why would you let him go?

Montrell Adams has been working for Erwin since he was 15 and loves creating custom woodwork.

“Learning different things from flooring to cabinets to building houses," said Montrell Adams. 

Adams said it’s awesome to work in an environment where he can communicate with everyone, and he takes pride in a job well done.

"We’re all humans, we can do everything, but we can't hear," said Adams.

"It was my vision to do this and be the bridge for the business world to meet up with the deaf world," said Erwin. 

Joe said he has a dream of one day of creating a full furniture-making business where everybody, from receptionists to architects, is deaf.