Building Togetherness One Board at a Time: Mike Killion

  • Mike Killion leaning on a picnic table he built

By Aspasia Tsampas, DE&I/Communications Intern

Mike Killion, lead technologist at VMLY&R Kansas City, wants you to put down the phones and enjoy quality time with your loved ones around one of his homemade picnic tables. Last year, Mike and his wife bought a picnic table the weekend after VMLY&R went fully remote. A month later, he realized he could make them himself!

Mike has always had a passion for constructing and building things with his hands, specifically with remodeling around his own home. So, when the pandemic forced everyone to be inside, he wanted to make something that could bring people together outside.

His custom-crafted lumber picnic tables come either untreated for $450 or treated for $550 and are sold primarily on Facebook Marketplace. Mike does 90% of the heavy lifting himself, but his wife helps put the finishing touches on the product. This time last year, before Memorial Day Weekend Mike had more than 10 tables in the works. However, this year, due to the increase in lumber prices, he has only three. While Mike has had no choice but to raise his prices, he believes the quality and customizable features, such as an inverted cup feature to hold phones, make it worth it.

Nonetheless, Mike enjoys building these picnic tables out of his garage and is grateful to provide them as a gathering place for people to unite after more than a year of social distancing. Mike hopes these tables will urge users to follow his lead by putting the phones down, closing the laptops and gathering together to enjoy one another’s company face to face.  

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  • Picnic table built by Mike Killion with an engraved top that reads Independence Square
  • A row of picnic tables in a garage