Wood industry award nominee takes big investment gamble
Elias Cortez, a 25-year-old, second-generation woodworker, says he was born for the woodwork industry.


Walk through Golden Casework's new plant

Elias Cortez posted photos of his operation in the Show Us Your Shop channel.



"My father taught me all about the woodwork industry from a young age. He taught me everything, like how to maintain a clean shop, how to fabricate, how to install, how to draw up a whole $140,000 project."

Cortez opened up his own business in three years ago, and then, in 2016, "Due to heavy demand of work, I decided to optimize my shop and I invested in CNC machinery and software to boost my production line. I would be lying if I said I was not scared."

In recognition of his risk-taking and ambition, Cortez has been nominated for the 2017 Wood Industry 40 Under 40 Award. Launched last year, the first crop of winners were honored at the IWF 2016 expo. Nominations are open for the 2017 awards, which take place July 18 at the Wood Industry Leadership Reception, at the las Vegas Convention Center, the night before AWFS Fair woodworking show opens.

Winners receive recognition at the even and experienced an opportunity to bond and network at the 2016 celebration. 40 Under 40 winners also receive continuous opportunities to raise their profile at key industry events during the year.

Motor Bar, Detroit Westin
  • At the 2017 Executive Briefing Conference in Detroit next month, 40 Under 40 winners will meet up at the reception April 14, and no doubt meander later to the Detroit Westin Motor Bar. Thrillist says it's the top hotel bar in the city, and the remodeled Westin - once a hulking, boarded up cadaver of a building - now boasts one of the top U.S. restaurants, Roast. The Executive Brief Conference will tour Fanuc Robots and Ford's F10 aluminum truck plant.
  • During the Wood Industry Conference, where suppliers meet annually, a panel of 2016 40 Under 40 winners is being flown in, including Casey Bell, COO of Bellmont Cabinets; Carly Boudrea, president of furniture manufacturer Coriander Designs; Guy Bucey, operations manager at commercial furniture maker Inova Designs; and Todd T.R. Herzog, president of Accu-Router.
  • At the 2017 AWFS Fair in Las Vegas, last year's 40 Under 40 winners will have a reunion at the 2017 Wood Industry 40 Under 40 awards event. It's July 18, following the day-long Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, which will also feature a 40 Under 40 panel with Sauder Woodworking's Jonathan Zublena, J Alexander Fine Woodworking's Jared Patchin.



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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.