Time With The Boss
From Small Business Monthly
Industry: architectural cabinetry for health care, offices, airports and other businesses
Education: mostly self-educated through books, audiobooks and mentors
Family: Married to Gina 41 years. Five sons and four daughters, ages 26 to 39. Eleven
grandchildren, expecting two more.
What is your mission?
To help people find deep healing and healthy growth in every aspect of their lives. Woodworking provides a great environment for some of that.
What was your first job?
When I was around 9 years old, I had a paper route in Chicago.
What was your worst job?
My hardest job was off-loading green oak railroad crossties at a sawmill. I lasted a day. I went home feeling 2 inches shorter.
What led you to your industry?
I came from a violent home. I also had been homeless and strung out on drugs. Woodworking was therapy for me. I started building porch swings, birdhouses and toy wooden trucks with roller skate wheels. In 1982, I was building a house for our UPS driver. He let me build his cabinets from my basement. I broke down and cried that night. I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
We signed up for a program that provided weeklong workshops of Harvard Case Studies.
Who is your industry role model?
Right now, Marc Sanderson, owner of Wilkie Sanderson in Minnesota. He’s a brilliant strategist.
How do you try to differentiate your business from others in your industry?
Instead of building custom cabinets for our clients, we partner with them to create a custom team that provides the best results.
What’s the hottest trend in your industry, and are you going to jump on board?
Technology. Automation. Standardization. Continuous improvement. Yes, we are already on board and feel like we’re among the industry leaders.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Making sure I stay emotionally and physically healthy and charged.
What’s the best part?
I get to do what I love with people I love. We create beauty in both our culture and our products.
What best advice would you share with new entrepreneurs?
Get some good mentors who have climbed the mountains you’re facing.
What’s your favorite place in St. Louis?
Drury Plaza, Chesterfield. Gina and I go there for solitude, study and renewal.
What book is on your nightstand?
My iPad, which is full of books about how to grow myself and my business. I read when I can’t sleep. I’m currently reading “The Fortune Cookie Principle,” by Bernadette Jiwa.
What has made you successful in your industry and in St. Louis?
I learned from my grandfather to be a friend first, then do business. We maintain consistency in treating people right, fine craftsmanship and delivering on time.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’ve been journaling since 1969 about life, relationships, business and God. I have around 10,000 pages of journals.