Hillbilly Hollow Woodworks
by Sarah Ford
New to the Port Byron Farmers’ Market as of May this year is Hillbilly Hollow Woodworks of Cleveland, Illinois. The business was started eight years ago by Russ and Tammy Quillin when they decided to start selling handcrafted wood products at local craft fairs. Their furniture display is an eye-catcher at the Sunday market.
The Quillins sell a large variety of handcrafted outdoor furniture constructed from Western Red Cedar, as well as whimsical bird houses, custom routed signs, buck board wagons for display, rocking horses, palm crosses, cedar chests, toy boxes, and custom woodworking. They have a wood-mizer bandsaw mill at their home, and offer custom sawmill services and milled lumber for sale.
Tammy and Russ both grew up in Henry County and were educated in the Geneseo schools. Russ spent 38 years working in the automotive industry, first as an auto mechanic then as an independent auto inspector for the last 12 years in that career. Tammy is currently employed at Unity Point Health Systems. They have three grown daughters and five grandchildren.
Russ wanted to continue working with his hands in a different capacity, and carpentry was something he’d been interested in for most of his life. In his youth he built soap box derbys and tree houses with his brothers and neighborhood friends. “Those first projects were very crude and trial and error works in progress, but it was a cool thing to a kid, in the days before cable TV and the internet. It sparked a life long interest in carpentry and building things with my hands and imagination,” said Russ.
He further developed his skills while taking wood shop classes in school. After high school, he borrowed his dad’s tools and equipment to build furniture and picture frames for his first apartment. “Back then, 2×4 pine furniture was the popular style and wasn’t too hard to build,” he reminisced. Some of those first pieces of furniture are still around in the Quillin home, with Russ adding they’re “out of style perhaps, but still useful.”
Tammy and Russ married in 1982 and shortly after they bought their house in Cleveland, which had been vacant for over two years. It was in need of a lot of repairs and updating, with Russ mentioning that the previous occupants had left a Ford six cylinder engine on the living room floor. After fixing it up they sold it and bought their current Cleveland home. Russ learned to make house repairs as the years went on, and his interests and skills continued to grow.
In 2013, Hillbilly Hollow Woodworks grew when they made a major investment in shop equipment and purchased proprietary rights to build the outdoor furniture that they build and sell today. In late December 2015, Russ left his automotive career to chase his dream to build the woodworking business. They’ve been expanding ever since, even purchasing a sawmill in 2018.
“We’re now able to salvage and repurpose timber from storm damaged trees and from local home owners and businesses removing trees on their property. We’re passionate about reclaiming and recycling timber from trees that might ordinarily end up as firewood, go to the landfill, or be left on the ground to rot,” stated Russ.
As for their unique business name, the Quillins say they often get asked how it came about. Their reply? “One only needs to visit Cleveland, Illinois and the answer will be clear. It used to be a “one horse town”, and Tammy and I owned that one horse. The grinning horse on our company logo represents “the one horse,” Russ said.
The Quillins say they have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other vendors and the wonderful folks who visit the Port Byron Farmers’ Market on Sundays. “The close proximity to the Mississippi river and downtown adds to the charm and character of this unique community. It has a laid back resort town atmosphere and it’s nice to see how much the community supports the farmers market,” stated Russ.
“We strive to exceed our customers expectations with the products and services that we offer, built right here in the Quad Cities, USA,” Tammy added.
You can find Hillbilly Hollow Woodworks at the Sunday market, now from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Sundays in the Blackhawk Bank & Trust parking lot. They can be contacted at www.hillbillyhollowwoodworks.com, which also offers online sales, or by calling 309-912-0640. They also set up at the Moline Farmers’ Market located in the Younker’s parking lot at Southpark Mall on Saturdays from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. now through October.