Letter From the President
After teaching architectural drawing and woodworking to the young for twenty years, I gave in to my growing obsession with timber framing and left my chosen profession to pursue this craft.
For the first two years, my shop was an open air affair – my driveway. Then came a shop that I built mostly from discarded material. It was small and uninsulated, but the rain, snow and most of the wind stayed outside. After another eight years, operations were moved to a 13,000 sq. ft. shop and design studio. Now we had an overhead crane and soon after a forklift. These conveniences came after one of my lumbar discs exploded, the meniscus in my left knee ruptured and the ulnar nerve in my left elbow called it quits.
People who knew me from my teaching period have often asked, hopefully with at least some tongue in cheek, what it now feels like to actually work for a living. Granted, I now work six days a week, have much longer days, and the three months of summer break are a foggy memory. I loved teaching, but it was demanding and, at times, emotionally draining. Teaching was hard; this craft is a dream. A grown man should not have this much fun. I still have the worn Erector Sets, the American Plastic Bricks and the Lincoln Logs of my youth (actually in a corner of my office here) as well as the fond memories of the hay bale forts and the numerous tree houses that I built. Now I get to do all that on a bigger and even more exciting scale.
So what is it with this fascination with timber framing? The answers are simple: Timber frames are structural sculpture. They lift the spirit and soothe the soul. Timber frames demand damn near perfection in their execution. Mistakes in design, sloppy joinery and inattention to detail cannot be hidden behind drywall or filled with putty or covered by paint. And, timber framing has a proven history measured not in centuries, but in millennia. I have been in timber frame structures that have been in continuous use for over a thousand years. Such a level of permanence almost moves one to kneel. Finally, timber framing is a method, not a style. Through frame design, detailing, species selection and finish, almost any feel or mood can be achieved.
There are eighteen of us in the company. We are a small company and will stay that way. We design, engineer and carve our own frames. And, we raise our own frames. None of us has the desire to mass produce cookie cutter timber frames; none of us want to feed raw timbers into some soulless CNC machine.
If I were a timid soul and if I would have anything even close to a regret it would be this: after more than two decades of gathering the people together who form this company, after searching for those with a burning passion, those who have a talent for creating and fashioning and those who believe that perfection is attainable, I have slowly come to the realization that, were I not the president, if I were to apply for a position here I am not fully sure I would be hired. But, I am not a timid soul so, for this unanticipated consequence I’ll assume full responsibility and feel some pride.