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101 posts in 4589 days

Location: Grayslake, IL.

Summer 1974

At 15 yrs old, master carpenter, Alan Melhiser mentored me as his apprentice during the summer in Austin Texas. I learned how to build cabinets on the jobsite, framing and trim work. He patiently showed me by example and with a kind voice how to have a strong work ethic.

Back then, we used a Stanley back saw mitre box (no cord) and eventually, a Porter Cable mitre box with a sacrificial wooden table. We had a 9" Rockwell table saw with a tilt top for angle cuts, 8" all aluminum Porter Cable skill saws, Yankee ratchet screwdrivers, wood levels, brass plumb bobs, Disston hand saws (8 and 12 pt.) and wood handled Plumb hammers with bees wax in a hole in the end for the 4,6 and 8 penny common trim nails so the trim wouldn't split from nailing it by hand.

Woodworking came naturally to me. I was a student shop teacher and I went to a Cabinet and Mill-work trade school during High school.

My Grandfather was an inventor and opened my eyes to what you can do with the right tools and a great idea. My mother is an artist and was very inspirational. I remember working on many projects and in the garden together.

1982 - After a tour in the Navy on the aircraft carrier, Enterprise, I moved to Lake Forest Illinois, met a girl, got married and started a remodeling business:

Reed Builders, inc.

I went to the local community college at night to study Construction Tech., Real Estate Practice and Small Business Management.

I also followed opportunity and excepted a few offers to work for prominent north shore contractors such as Traditional Concepts, Page Builders and Chicago's oldest union cabinet shop, Dettmers.

They offered a way for me to work on larger projects and learn many things about the Union way, high end project management and office politics.

But I always maintained my business on the side which kept me busy during slow times like we have now.

We avoid huge overhead costs with our in home office and small cabinet shop. We prefer to finance our own jobs and stay manageable with only 4 - 8 men. The rest of the crew are sub contractors, some we've known for over 20 years.

I have been fortunate to work mostly in Lake Forest and Lake bluff IL. The people here are very nice and appreciate good quality work. Most of my clients know each other. I prefer to work with references only when I can.

We are mostly a kitchen and bath remodeler these days. We handle everything including design service and 3D drawings. We provide and install Plato Cabinetry or custom built ins which include: paneled libraries, mantles, home theaters, wine rooms, organizer closets and pantries for clients and Architects.

We also do complete house gut and remodels, historic restorations, timber frame additions, shade arbors, furniture repairs, Halloween props and decks.

Me personally?

I believe you should pay it forward.
Our immortality lies in the knowledge you leave behind.
Our mark in the world lives on in the things we create.

-- mark

-- mark - Grayslake IL.

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5 comments so far

View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

735 posts in 5395 days

posted 03-07-2011 01:01 PM

Welcome to HomeRefurbers….
Glad to see you over here from Lumberjocks….......now I can learn more from you :-)
love your work, you inspire me to do better…..

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View MsDebbieP's profile


628 posts in 5669 days

posted 03-07-2011 04:08 PM

Welcome. Great story you have.

And I too believe that our life’s worth is about what we have left behind. The Native beliefs is that what we do affects the next 7 generations. I like that Wisdom.

-- ~ Debbie, Ontario Canada

View LeeJ's profile


48 posts in 5656 days

posted 03-10-2011 12:02 AM

View MayaRivera's profile


1 post in 2167 days

posted 10-21-2017 03:49 AM

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View EthelLMarquez's profile


1 post in 1745 days

posted 12-17-2018 04:34 AM

Well written post. Keep it up.
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