What We Do

From modern crossovers and fastwagons to vintage microvans and SUVs, we take pleasure in designing and delivering high-quality drawer systems for those seeking greater flexibility, comfort, and peace of mind on their adventures.

Who We Are

Michael McNaught: builder / founder.

Creative design and outdoor adventure are life-long passions of mine, and I’m grateful to focus so much of my energy on their intersections in my work.

The story of The Berkeley Builders, a company that literally survives on adventure, is very much an adventure in itself, and has proceeded from many unforeseen developments and fortuitous encounters.

My imagination and love for the outdoors were first nourished growing up in Santa Cruz, where I spent a lot of time in nature and never strayed too far from a sketchbook. With parents in the fine art world, I developed an eye for detail and quality from a young age that has influenced all my endeavors since.

I studied literature at Cabrillo College before moving to Berkeley where I pursued a degree in philosophy at the UC. After graduation, I focused intensively on drawing and painting, camping on the weekends and embarking on longer and longer backpacking trips. During this time, I became fascinated with the design of outdoor gear, and developed an appreciation for storage, versatility and organization on the move. I borrowed a friend's sewing machine, and experimented with modifications to my own packs, testing out different features on trail in pursuit of the perfect system.

It wasn’t until the father of a close friend invited me to help remodel a house that I made direct contact with the world of building. Thanks to his dedication, I came away with a host of new skills and interests, and, in time, my friend and I started “The Berkeley Builders” -- initially a freelance carpentry business. With some money saved, I took time off to study art, traveling to St. Petersburg where I spent a summer training in classical technique at the Academy of Art. Upon return, I was determined to find a dedicated space to continue painting. I rented a small studio in West Oakland that, as I soon discovered, was directly across from a fine woodworking shop.

Friendships formed, and before long, I found myself working in the shop and learning from masters of the craft, soaking up the many specialized skills that laid the foundations for The Berkeley Builders in its present form. When a friend asked if I could build a set of modular cabinets in his Subaru Outback, I seized the opportunity, and discovered a world where my design imagination, building skills and interest in outdoor adventure were all brought together in the process.

While I've certainly worked harder at bringing this business into being than I have at anything else in my life, it would have been impossible without the encouragement and wisdom a handful of wonderful people felt inclined to share with me over these exciting years.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

-- Michael.

Gamiel Mendoza: cnc operator, fabricator

When Gamiel isn't dialing in tool-paths for our CNC products, or coming up with ideas for new designs, you can find him brewing up craft ciders or out exploring the mountains and deserts of California.

A trained CNC technician and additive manufacturing wizard, Gamiel has helped The Berkeley Builders step into the CADCAM world and provides critical insights for the R&D that goes on behind the scenes.

Joe Aiello: digital documentary photographer

I’m an outdoor photographer based out of Sonoma County and I take commercial photographs for brands that build trust with their customers.

People buy from brands that they trust. The first step in building trust is by showing compelling photographs. These photographs need to catch the viewer’s interest, showcase the brand’s mission, highlight the product’s craftsmanship, or connect with the customer’s needs. How does a customer know if a jacket looks good? By seeing a picture of someone wearing it. How does a customer know if a particular set of gloves are for the snow? By seeing a picture of someone wearing those gloves in the snow. Your brand’s images are the first thing your customers will engage with and these images need to reassure your customers that they have come to the right place.

See Joe's work.

How We Do It

Computer-aided design and manufacturing technology allows small businesses like us to deliver ultra-precise, high-quality products on a faster timeline and for a lower cost. This means we can spend more time testing our designs and coming up with new ideas, while guaranteeing bullseyes on every build.

The 3-axis CNC router makes our CAD designs a reality within the span of a lunch break.

Click play to see it in action.

For projects that require a custom approach, we have a full-scale woodworking space where one-of-a-kind systems are imagined, designed and realized using traditional cabinet-making methods and a shop full of modern machinery.

What They Say

"The drawer gives the Jeep some much needed covered and protected storage. Short of tearing the entire platform apart, you can't get into the drawer if the Jeep is locked, allowing me to safely keep important items inside the drawer... Knowing that whatever's inside my drawer system is protected against a smash and grab alone is worth the price of the system. Finally, on some of the tougher trails I've run, I've noticed a remarkable difference after ditching my rooftop tent for an internal sleeping solution. Pulling all that tent weight off the roof and replacing it with a lighter solution that's much lower down in the Jeep has helped it to feel more planted on tough, off-camber obstacles. It's also taken a foot off the roof of my truck, allowing me to fit into lower parking garages." -- Tommy
"Love having a sleeping platform inside my vehicle for those times when it’s raining outside, too buggy or too windy to set up a tent, or I’m just too lazy or tired from a long day of driving etc.  Also for the added sense of security from bears, crazy people etc. Also for sno-parks and other areas where tent camping is prohibited.  Also love that my platform is modular or collapsible so I can stow it behind the back seat when I want to, and store stuff underneath.  This is so convenient, I hardly use my tent anymore.  Everyone who enjoys car camping should have one of these as a back-up (or primary) option!" --H.S.
"It has allowed more space to ease packing and organization! I absolutely love it." -- Caroline

San Francisco Bay Area


© The Berkeley Builders 2023
Web Design by Michael McNaught