When former Lipscomb soccer player Ethan Summers tells you he is working 100 hours a week he is not exaggerating. In fact, he might be underestimating his time on the job. This week his company, Oil and Lumber, had its official opening though he has been working on the concept since his college days. He customizes motorcycles, especially vintage examples, on the oil side. The lumber side represents his work as a custom furniture maker. As if that was not enough, he is also designing clothes as well. Summers managed to spend some time this week with Lipscombsports.com to talk about his business and his memories of Lipscomb.
Tell us about your new business. What are your plans for the future?
“I have been doing it as a hobby for the past few years. When I was going to college at Lipscomb I was living on Lone Oak. My roommate, Tyler Burkhardt, was on the soccer team and he was a good wood worker.
“When I was in college I was always working on motorcycles. I guess I worked on around 10 of them in the back yard. I have worked more with customization. I don’t want to be a service shop. I want to create my own designs for bikes and have people bring in motorcycles to be modified.
“I would like the motorcycles to be 70 percent of the business and the furniture to be 30 percent. It has been about 50-50 at this point. Times get slow for bikes in the winter months, but people always want furniture whether it is something small like a cutting board or something more elaborate like a dining room table. I have furniture booked out for a year. I am finishing some chairs right now for a customer in Belle Meade.
“When a bike gets frustrating to work on I can go over and work on furniture or if I am having trouble with the furniture I can go and work on a bike. With creative work sometimes you just have to stop and think about it.
“I work mostly on vintage bikes which are pre-1977. The owners like the way their bikes look right now as an original but will ask me if I can we drop the seat, paint the gas tank, lower the front or change the tires. We make a modern aesthetic with an old-school vibe.”
I understand you are also designing clothes as well.
“It is not just the bikes and the furniture. I also do clothing designs. This is a lifestyle brand. I have a few T-shirts I have worked on with a designer here. I have a work shirt that is heavy duty but could also be worn with jeans. The prototype is being made by hand by a woman here in Nashville. I am also working on a jacket that can be worn for riding bikes or for just being in the outdoors. I also have a couple of beanies I have designed myself.
“I want to have my mark on a few things. I want people to like my clothing because of the design and the way it fits. I want to have a quality product.
“One of my grandfathers was an Indy car mechanic. One was a farmer. I found some bandanas my grandfather who was the Indy car mechanic wore. One of them had one teepee on it. I thought it was cool. I decided I wanted to have a design with three teepees.
“I feel like I can do it all. I want to give loving my job a try. There is no option for failure.”
Where is your business?
“I am in the Wedgewood-Houston area near the old Sounds stadium. It is a collective workspace in a huge warehouse. I have a lot of my own tools.
“There are about 10 people splitting rent. It is nice because I was able to have someone who has a spot there help me with a problem I was having with the chairs. He has been building chairs for 40 years. You can’t get knowledge like that online.”
How did you get started?
“I dabbled in it in high school. I grew up in Ogden near the Park City, Utah area near the mountains. We were required to take shop classes. We didn’t make perfect stuff. We didn’t make dining room tables, but we made things like chests and boxes.
“I always had a knack for using my hands. I remember as a little kid taking apart pencil sharpeners and trying to fix them but I was more about sales than engineering.
“When I was in college I was always working on motorcycles. I got Tyler interested and he has worked on about 20. I have probably worked on 30-plus bikes since college.
“I went into the corporate world when I graduated and I was training to be a broker. I had my broker’s license. But I needed something tangible. My contract was about to be renewed, but I was single so I decided to go for a business on my own. It is great. I am slammed on work.”
How many motorcycles do you have?
“I have four right now, two projects and two personal ones. I have a vintage 1973 BMW. It is all original. BMW bikes will run forever. People run them over 100,000 miles all the time.
“I have a 1972 Honda CV 750. That is an iconic model.
“I have a 1978 Kawasaki KZ 650. It is Mad Max inspired. It is planned to look the way it is. It has a cool vibe to it.
“I have a smaller bike that is going to be a project this winter. It will be a shop bike.
“My personal bikes are marketing for my company and marketing for my website.”
What years did you play soccer at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
“I played from 2008 through 2013. I had a medical redshirt my senior year. My coaches were Charles Morrow and Kevin Burk.”
Why did you choose to attend Lipscomb?
“I was being recruited by a couple of schools in California and a couple of schools in Colorado.
“I played basketball and soccer. I was playing AAU basketball and traveling all over the state, but I was 5-foot-7 so soccer took over.
“Charles and Kevin saw me play in the Disney Showcase in Florida. I had not committed. That was my last hurrah. I had a really good tournament and made a couple of great plays right in front of Charles and Kevin.
“They talked to me. I wanted to play for an NCAA Division I program. I wanted to go to somewhere I liked. When I visited Lipscomb it just felt right. I wanted to be at a small school. I didn’t want to be in a party scene and be caught up in all of that drama. I wanted to help build the program. The campus was cool and Nashville is a great area. I would come back here again.
“I have a degree in business management and a minor in marketing.”
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
“I had never scored a goal until my senior year. I was more of a defender.
“But we were playing Oral Roberts and I scored my first goal to tie the game and scored off a PK to win the game. It was my biggest athletic memory individually.
“As a team going to the Atlantic Sun Tournament produced so many awesome memories.
“Also, we went to Dallas and played SMU which was No. 4 at the time and Tulsa which finished No. 2. I don’t know of any other team at Lipscomb that played two top five teams in the same weekend. The air conditioning went off in the bus and we were baking in the back. We developed a comradery on the road.”
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
“Kevin Burk. He was a guy who got out there and played with us a lot. He laid the hammer down from a playing aspect.
“We would be running races and he would be lapping us. He pushed us and motivated us. We looked to him for his postgame and halftime talks because he was so into it. He found a way to fire us up.
“You respected him because he had been there (played pro soccer) and he expected the best out of you all of the time whether it was on or off the field. To this day I look up to him and talk with him and get advice.”
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
“Probably the power outage we had on campus in either 2010 or 2011. I can’t remember which year but I remember it was warm outside. Everyone congregated in the square. People drove their cars in there. Music was playing. Everyone was getting crazy. Then, boom, the lights went on and everyone vanished.
“I also enjoyed going to volleyball games and getting on the other teams.”
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
“I learned how to operate a business from a completely ethical standpoint. That was driven by the Christian values here. It goes hand-in-hand with the way I wanted to do business anyway.
“Lipscomb taught me the right way to do things and taught me I can be successful, Lipscomb grads have gone on to do great things.
“Lipscomb is about breeding family, breeding community, breeding ethics and having an overall respect for the people who have come before you. There is a level of professionalism here. Everyone knows each other. We take care of our own.”
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
“Allison Duke. She was also my advisor. She was down to earth and explained things in a way that I could understand them. She knew how to get her points across. She was more hands on with things like case studies.
“She would have us over as a class to have dinner with her family.
“I also remember Joe Ivey. If there had been in an entrepreneurial program when I came here I would have been in it. He taught the real world. His classes made you think through things and think about real life scenarios. We still stay in contact. He is someone I value and respect because he has been there.”
Where do you live now?
“I live in Nashville in the Berry Hill area.”
Tell us about your family.
I have been dating Kelcee Hopkins for four years. We met here on campus and started dating my senior year. We have been dating ever since. She lives on the east side of town.”
My email addresses are:
Ethanksummers@gmail.com or Oilandlumber@gmail.com.