2013 TFG/TTRAG CONFERENCE
Heroic Effort and Astounding Results
So….as I aimed my new “smarter than me” phone at him in the cafeteria of the Burlington campus this weekend Rick Holder said “……awww you ain’t gonna snap my pic are ya…” to which I replied…YUP. And snap I did. I always enjoy seeing Rick, Gabel and Whit Holder at TFG events. Watching Rick work the crowd is fascinating and huge fun. Some of you may know that Rick and the boys play band dates. I even got to sing with them on a back patio in Montebello in 2010. As I recall I sang Hank Williams’ Cheatin Heart. They graciously and thankfully indulged me. Most don’t! It was sublime.
Along with the extraordinary participation of Sandy Becker…Rick and his boys aka “ring men” (I did not know that term) collected over $32,000.00 sorely needed dollars at this years auction event. I would say that qualifies them as CONFERENCE HEROES! CONGRATS…on a job well done….AGAIN. And besides Rick…I believe you’re darn good lookin’. And I mean that in the most manly way :>) !
If there is a single objective important to the survival of the craft of Timber Framing it may be the success of the APPRENTICE PROGRAM. At TFU, we were pleased and privileged to provide registration for three young men who are at various stages of participation or aspiration for the program. They are enthusiastic about their current and future connection to Timber Framing and looking forward to pursuing a continuing career in the craft. I must say I was beyond impressed with them, their commitment and plans for the future. They are well suited candidates for carrying the craft into the next generation.
Dan Roberts is an active apprentice at Trillium Dell with Rick Collins as his Journeyman. He’s focused on all areas of growth from layout to cutting to raising. Along with others TFU will follow his growth and path going forward and assist in any way we can to facilitate his progress. Dan is as focused as you get…and understands the imperative to become accomplished in all phases of the process. As with all of us…his motivation is spurred by necessity…but fueled by the fire of his passion for the work and its extraordinary history.
Jon Pease is an active apprentice at New England Barn Company since 2009. His tutelage is provided by Rob Turnquist and Gary Helman. Jon describes his 2008 introduction to Timber Framing as “circumstantial, but well timed”. With the general economy in steep decline the clientele for his own GC and carpentry work dwindled. A friend introduced him to the opportunity at NEBC and the rest is history. He loves working for a small company for the benefits of a well rounded exposure to all aspects of the work from layout to handling, assembly and raising. He describes the overall experience as “extremely rewarding”.
Jon is totally invested in the hands-on nature of TF and what it means in the general economy. To paraphrase Jon…”in a world where giant corporations increasingly outsource production to maximize profit…quality suffers. It’s a breath of fresh air to be part of a local team, building a quality product with local resources which will last hundreds of years. Not just made in the USA…but…hand made in the USA with PRIDE.”
Michael Tebaldi is as organic a young man as you will meet. Sort of like a 20’s version of Jack Sobon (one of my personal heroes of TF). Michael worked for several years in organic farming and was mentored early on by Will Gusakov. He is taken with what he describes as the “rural tradition” and “honesty of the craft”. He has participated in hand raisings and is intent on pursuing a career in Timber Framing. After speaking with him during an impromptu chat on a bench outside the campus on Sunday morning, I can tell you he is cut from whole cloth. An amazingly contemplative, introspective and passionate young man.
Speaking for myself….what more can one say. TFU is PROUD of our recipients for Conference attendance and look forward to following and assisting their path going forward.
Our hope is to participate in the activities of the TFG Apprentice Program. We are exploring that possibility with Rick Collins and Curtis Milton of the TFG’s ATC. To that end you may expect me to contact you for your support and to provide information about how you can become a participant. Please take the time to learn more about it. It’s the best thing you can do for the GUILD community and YOURSELF! THANKS AGAIN to the three companies who have already expressed an interest and intention to join the APPRENTICE PROGRAM since the conference. More on that later.
Breaking things is FUN
Of course Ben Brungraber was on hand as always to bust things up. At one of the most popular events of any conference the tension and compression game was engaged in full force. (Ok…how many metaphors should be allowed in one sentence. Ill check with Ken Rower and Susan Witter later.) It’s always a blast waiting for the cracking to occur and no one does it better than Ben and his Firetower team. They haven’t left a joint standing yet. But no worries…stresses generally exceed what happens in real time. They don’t call him “Bustin Ben” for nothin’.
It was purely magical watching Grigg Mullen and John Miller orchestrate the smooth rise of a gin pole…rigged and raised by a willing team of volunteers on the lawn at Champlain College. It was fun watching our own TFU, Field Manager, Michael Head (left of Grigg) tying the special knots and contributing a few of his own as the rigging was prepared. At the end the pole raised as smooth and even as they have been for centuries. Who needs cranes when you can round up 50 or so neighbors and townspeople and a few stout ropes and pulleys to engage in a community effort not soon forgotten. I loved every rope pulling, come-a-long moment. Our three apprentices were also on board. Being “hands-on” is what makes the difference…and there were plenty of hands on the task on Saturday. Total fun and educational.
Best PHRASE of the Conference
Well…they say there’s “one in every crowd” and for me, at least at this Conference Tim Krahn of Building Alternatives, Inc in Ontario, CA was the one. Appropriate to the current dilemma for the TFG, TFBC and the craft and practice of Timber Framing itself, Tim randomly, spontaneously and without prompting issued this edict…
“GROW, MATURE, EVOLVE”…I couldn’t have said it better myself. These are truly changing times.. and the times are truly changing all we do…about what we do. Although we continue to build the frames we build in an assortment of traditional and post-traditional ways…how we approach the future may be all about how we engage our connection to the life blood of the marketplace…our future Timber Frame homeowners.
Thanks Tim…now if you could just send the rest of the Owners Manual…I know we’ll all appreciate and read it till the pages curl at the corners.
Jack Costantino, Pres.
Timber Frames Unlimited, LLC
Long Valley, NJ 07853
(908) 876.5262 Office
(201) 230.6429 Cell