Matthew Leese knew it was time for a change. When he was laid off from his job last year, he decided to follow his dream and start Plano-based Good Wood Games.
“I had this dream of building wood games,” Matthew said. “A lot of people build cornhole games, but most people use plywood, which will fall apart in the rain. I’m old-fashioned. I want something that will last, that’s durable, that’s built by hand, that’s one-of-a-kind.”
In his East Plano garage, Matthew produces handcrafted, hand-painted versions of cornhole, the popular bean bag game which is a staple at tailgate parties. To him, his workshop is his own slice of heaven, sacred ground where he reaches nirvana each time he enters. “I barely feel the heat [out there] because I’m in my happy place,” Matthew said. “I’m getting to be creative.”
His initial inspiration for Good Wood Games came from a random piece of plywood. “Several summers ago, I had a piece of plywood sitting in the backyard and it warped,” he said. “We had a Bocce ball set in the backyard, so I drilled some holes. I have a natural slope in my backyard, so we played Bocce ball, a skee-ball kind of game, rolling it up the ramp into the hole.”
That led Matthew to make his first actual game for a Super Bowl party he and his wife, Amber, hosted. “I thought I’d build a football field-like cornhole where you’ve got to work your way up the field to get to the end zone,” he said. “That was my actual first game, the OG, the original game.”
Matthew sells his games through his website, Facebook page and in person at Third Monday Trade Days in McKinney and the Downtown Plano Art & Wine Walks. His offerings start at $125 for a patio baseball game and can cost as much as $299, the price tag for his current top seller, a cornhole set featuring the Texas flag.
Good Wood Games also offers yard games for sports like baseball and football and sells sports-themed bean bags separately ($24.99 per set).
Matthew also produces custom games, including one for a recent wedding where the cornhole game boards – one for the groom and one for the bride – served as the sign-in sheet for guests.
But his favorite custom job to date is the rocket-themed cornhole game he made for Amber’s boss. That game was so well received at the software company where she works that the boss had to issue ground rules about when employees could and couldn’t play.
“It’s not like any other game [I’ve built],” Matthew said. “They keep it in their office and apparently, it’s a big hit. He’s had to put the foot down on not playing during office hours, they play it so much. That’s a compliment, that they’re willing to get in trouble at work to play my game.”Good Wood Games >