Bellingham contractor Tony Kesslau specializes in eye-catching fences and gates


Contractor Tony Kesslau says his focus on fences, gates, landscaping and similar projects satisfies his urge to be creative while working outdoors.


He graduated from Sehome High School in 1988. A job with flair: As a schoolboy, Kesslau loved to draw and paint. As the owner of Kesslau Construction, he puts that love to work designing wooden fences and gates, mostly with western red cedar. "I was one of those model-and-Lego kids. Later, I learned by working sum- mers for my dad," Kesslau says. "My dad had a residential construction business and I have always loved hands-on work."

Name: Tony Kesslau. Age: 42. Hometown: Bellingham.

Outdoor focus: Kesslau, who started his company seven years ago, mainly takes on residential landscaping and out- door beautification projects.

"I call it working from the siding out," he says. "I felt this was the only way I could ever have any creative outlet that I could make a buck at and work out- doors.

"I don’t want to be in the assembly business," he says. "I want to create an interesting product every time."

Curb appeal: Kesslau, whose crew works in Whatcom and Skagit counties, takes jobs ranging from clients who want to refresh their property to those who want to improve the look of their homes in anticipation of selling them. A creative fence and gate, along with landscaping improvements, can do much to improve curb appeal, he says.

"We do what we can to make people love the house they already hate," Kesslau says. "With our fences, you get the craftsman fence; you get a piece of artwork."

Kesslau must work within city codes, which generally limit the height of resi- dential fences to 6 feet.

"Cities don’t want people to be walling themselves off from their neighbors," he says.

Gate ways: "I love to do creative gates, too," Kesslau says. "My gates are called ‘mortise and tenon’ — they’re like doors the way they work."

Outdoor rooms: "There’s been a surge of interest in recent years, especially with programs like HGTV (Home and Garden Television), in expanding living space to what amounts to an outdoor room," he says.

Starships, too: Kesslau spent five years in Hollywood building studio scenery, much of it for music videos and commercials. During one of his most memorable jobs — helping to build a Starship Enterprise set for reruns of "Star Trek" on the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) — he met Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner.

Kesslau says he avoided saying, "Beam me up, Scotty."

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