About the woodworker: Neil Lamens,
Where does one’s woodworking begin? The first
rabbit cage?? The tree fort?? That half-baked stereo cabinet?? I
don’t know. As long as I can remember, I was tinkering,
mostly in wood. The old man said, “stay away from that
wood”, “don’t touch the table saw”, “you
can use the skill saw if you ask me first”, and “when
you’re done put my tools back”. Well 3 out of 4 isn’t
bad. We’ve all been there.
The woodworking resume
reads like the Frost poem, “The
Road Not Taken”:
Oswego State University hit my woodworking
heart with the Design teachings of John Belt and the building
mentality of Wesley Boydston. I took every class and Independent
Study I could with them.
Lenoir, North Carolina; Broyhill Furniture Industries,
Managing Production. Great company, great experience in the “manufacturing
process” and had the best first “boss man” you
could have. Keith Suddreth, Plant Manager, Pacemaker Furniture.
While with Broyhill, every fall, Gigi Lamens (my
better half for 27 years) and I did the Craft Fair circuit. Her
wood burned magnets created the “curiosity hook” that
landed sales of my work. Every fair we attended, she sold out.
There came a point at Broyhill Furniture
where I became more interested in the bigger “Corporate” picture
than just manufacturing. Gigi and I headed to New York City and
Graduate School for an MBA. To get started, I landed a job with
a high-end custom cabinetmaker who specialized in exotic custom
polyester finishes. I arranged my academic schedule around cabinetmaking.
It was here, at Vienna Furniture Makers, I learned what a real
woodworking “Mechanic” was. By the way I wasn’t
one. But boy did I learn how to build contemporary furniture,
and had the pleasure to come in contact with a tremendous Foreman/Mechanic.
Completed the MBA, got on with a Wall Street consulting firm,
soaked up computer skills, and helped to build a computer-generated
product that provided financial data during the nation’s S&L debacle.
Hey, what can I tell you, building a MACRO in LOTUS 1-2-3 at one time classified
you as a computer wiz. First home re-model got done during this time span
also. My basement
shop produced occasional pieces, kitchen cabinetry, vanities,
armoires, bedroom suites, dining room pieces, and custom moldings. It’s
amazing what you can produce in a small shop. This re-model was positioning
for the eventual “big
Upon leaving Wall Street, I had a choice between
working with an Architect who wanted a manager for his
idea to start-up his own woodworking studio to build his designs
or to help manage a successful small custom cabinet shop that
wanted to grow to the next level and manufacture high-end furniture.
I opted for manufacturing and, although the shop made a gallant
effort with limited capital, we created 2 lines of furniture,
(well 3 if we include that half-baked veneer/lacquer line). However
in the tough economic times of the late 80’s thru early
90’s, we just couldn’t hold on until the creation
of “that bubble”. But again, the exposure to
faux finishes, building techniques, and contacts in the industry,
allowed me to keep building forward.
“What's next you ask?”………Well,
if you remember the real estate crunch of the 90’s, we
purchased a piece of property and did the “big build”.
Gigi and I lived the dream dating back to Oswego,
NY; and built our own home.
Which by the way; has a really nice woodworking shop…….
want to see??