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about Us

Our Story. Our Team.

Our Story

Wood Essence was founded in 1985 by Ken and Craig Manuel in Houston, TX.  In 2000, Wood Essence (WE) opened shop in Manvel, Texas providing high end wood carpentry and extraordinary customer service. Our vision has always been to provide high quality, custom designed millwork and cabinetry. WE is able to provide one-of-a-kind wood and other special material items to enhance our clients' desired end product.


Wood Essence works with the client’s design team including  architects, interior designers, designers and general contractors.  Being part of a team to create exceptional project results for our discerning clients; WE has solutions on paper before they are a problem during installation. WE employs experienced full service design and drafting staff to create shop drawings to ensure a complete understanding of designs and delivery expectations.  Our woodworking and finishing staff use these shop drawings to fabricate projects in our modern facility that can pass our rigid quality assurance specifications. These disciplined processes ensure that our work meets and exceeds our customer’s expectations.


WE is a dedicated team of professionals. WE takes pride in our products.  WE takes greater pride in knowing they are in some of the most elegant homes in the greater Houston Metro area, throughout Texas and the Grand Cayman Islands.  WE is ready to join your team and make your project a great success.

Our Team

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Craig Manuel

Craig started Wood Essence with his brother, Ken Manuel, in 1980. Craig grew up in upstate New York helping his father who was a master carpenter and master tin smith. Craig then moved to Houston in 1974 after graduating from high school. Since then, Craig continues to study his approach on being a Wood Working Craftsman. Craig states, “The opportunity to work within the gifted team of people to create the highest level of design, fabrication, and finish of exotic and elaborate materials of all finishes is truly living the dream in retrospect of my life at this time. It is a privilege to work and live the journey of the Craftsman, and to share this journey with the Wood Essence Team.”

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Mike Grubbs

Mike joined the Wood Essence team in 2017. With a background in Project management, estimating, and CAD/CAM software. Mike keeps the team at the leading edge of technology, adding value and accuracy to each project. Mike states that his favorite thing about being on the Wood Essence team is being able to work together to bring a concept from imagination to reality. Outside of work, Mike enjoys scuba diving, music, cooking, and spending time with family.

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Julio Garcia

Julio joined the Wood Essence team in 2003. Julio was born in Cuba, and moved to the United States when he was 4 years old. Julio served as a Sargent in the United States Army for nine years. He then began pursuing his career in carpentry for 40 years, and has obtained a certification as an Interior Electrician. Outside of leading the shop team for Wood Essence, Julio enjoys cooking, fishing, and camping.

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Alfredo Flores

Alfredo has been a part of the Wood Essence team for 16 years, and currently helps lead the shop team in completing all onsite fabrications. Alfredo is originally from Vera Cruz, Mexico, and has continued to pursue his career in carpentry by being a great addition to the Wood Essence team. Outside of work, Alfredo enjoys fishing, soccer, and spending time with his family.

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Tina Munoz

A native Houstonian who graduated from MacArthur High School, Tina started drafting technical drawings in high school and continued to master the skill of design and drafting with her completion of a degree of Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Houston. Tina joined the Wood Essence team in 2013 and has obtained over twenty years of drafting experience and a passion for problem-solving. Tina loves the unique projects that come across her desk. She never fails to bring her ability to think outside the box to a project, but she can also draw that box as well.

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