R & R began in 1981 when brothers Rich and Rob MacKeen, 17 and 15 years old, started a woodworking business. Rich, who had apprenticed in a woodshop, asked his father for a loan. “On two conditions,” his dad answered. “One, no more allowance, ever. And two, involve your little brother.”
Rich did most of the construction, and Rob was the finisher and salesman. They were a great team, making toy cars, miniature furniture, a picnic table, and even a cedar-lined hope chest for their customers.
In 1982, the business paused when Rich got an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). Always an entrepreneur, Rich soon discovered a new opportunity for R & R: saber cases. He developed a design with hidden-screws, a padded velvet back, and a wooden plinth for engraving. Rich began crafting the saber cases in his sponsor’s outbuilding (Thanks to Dr. David and Alice “Ma” Noebel), and by 1985, R & R was back in business.
At USAFA, in CS-21, Rich was a glider instructor and an Aeronautical Engineering Major. USAFA Class of ’86 stayed in the same cadet squadron all 4 years. The ’86 red class tended to be on the wild side. “21” days before “Hell Week” (Recognition), squadron mates came up with the ultimate and unsurpassed Spirit Mission—moving the F-16 to the Chapel wall (note: to find out more, go to our Facebook page).
Rich and his squadron mates were heavily disciplined , but exonerated at ‘83’s graduation by keynote speaker Senator Barry Goldwater.
Rich graduated in 1986, and started his Air Force career, still running the business. After completing UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training), in Enid, Oklahoma, he came back as a T-38 FAIP (First Assignment Instructor Pilot). The training for this job was in San Antonio, where he met his bride, Mary. They married in 1989, and started their life together in Enid. They sold the business to Rob in 1990, and PCS’d (Permanent Change of Station) to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, where Rich flew the KC-135R.
Rich retired in 2006 after 20 years of amazing experiences that included KC-135s at RAF Mildenhall, UK, Attaché and Thai language school in the DC area, and the US Embassy/C-12 in Bangkok, Thailand. Rob and his family ran R & R until 2007 , when Rich and Mary bought the business back. Together, they introduced the name R & R Woodcrafts and Graphics, which honors the 26-year history of the brothers’ business, and added the CO2 laser graphics department, headed up by Mary.
When you call R & R, you will be talking mainly to Mary. She manages the office and does all the engravings. If we do not answer right away, we will get back to you, but Mary is most likely managing the children and all their activities, or our farm (i.e. wrangling a renegade goat).
Rich and Mary have instilled their entrepreneurial spirit in their growing children, as the business is a family effort. And although several of their children are grown and have moved on, they still help out when they’re in town.
When the MacKeen family is not in the woodshop, you can find them working on their farm. They sell locally grass-fed lamb, and will soon market cheese, eggs and chicken with a new enterprise, Buttercup Ranch and Creamery.