Since 2009, Woodworking Network has paid tribute to market leaders in the wood products industry that have made an impact — not only at their own companies, but also on the industry as a whole. Represented are persons from all segments of the secondary woodworking industry, including: residential furniture, contract/office furniture, cabinets, closets/home storage, store fixture, architectural woodwork, window and door, and wood components.
Listed below, in alphabetical order, is the compendium of Wood Industry Market Leader honorees (titles/jobs were at the time of recognition) between 2009-2019. For more information, visit WoodworkingNetwork.com/Market-Leaders.
The predecessor to Market Leaders, the Jerry Metz Achievement Award winners are listed at the end of the article.
Lisa Adams (2018)
CEO/Designer, LA Closet Design
A celebrity closet designer and author of the Closet Design Bible, Adams has put a public spotlight on the field of home organization. In addition to her efforts in promoting the industry, she is involved in a number of organizations.
Keith Atherholt (2010)
President, Lewis Lumber Products
In addition to his work on behalf of the industry, under Atherholt’s leadership the millwork/components producer increased sales, profits and products, while reducing operating costs.
Neil Balter (2013)
Founder, Organizers Direct
Prior to launching Organizers Direct in 1995, Balter founded California Closets, the nation’s largest home organization franchise. Balter deservedly earned a reputation as “The Closet Entrepreneur.”
Bill Barton (2012)
President & CEO, California Closets
Barton has helped home organization giant California Closets grow even larger and more innovative, often looking at markets outside the industry for new ideas. He also serves on boards for the betterment of the industry.
Dave Bashor (2017)
Director of Manufacturing, Flexsteel Industries Inc.
Overseeing three home furnishing sites in the United States and one in Mexico, Bashor leads efforts to reduce workplace injuries, improve quality and on-time delivery and reduce lead times at the residential furniture company.
John Bassett III (2012)
Chairman, Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co.
Under Bassett’s leadership, the company became the largest domestic producer of wood adult bedroom furniture. Bassett was also recognized for his leadership role in the fight against low-cost imports.
Troy Bednarz (2014)
Owner, Lakeside Cabinets and Woodworking
Under Bednarz, the custom cabinet firm has not only improved its production capabilities, but also racked up impressive sales growth. His strategies for success have been recognized in the WOOD 100.
Debra Behring (2015)
President, JB Cutting
While expanding the component firm's capabilities, Behring was also instrumental in creating the order entry software, helped design the catalog/marketing strategy, and worked to instill a philosophy for customer service.
Mark Bernhard (2009)
President, Bernhard Woodwork Ltd.
With a lifetime of experience in the industry, Bernhard has guided the architectural woodwork giant to new levels, constantly challenging and exposing the firm to new methodologies, including those learned from other industries.
Franco Bianchi (2011)
President & CEO, Haworth Inc.
Under Bianchi’s leadership, Haworth has grown in size and brand recognition, offering integrated and innovative products for the contract furniture market, and helping to create an agile environment for today’s workforce.
Tony Bour (2015)
CEO, Showplace Wood Products
No stranger to the cabinet industry, Bour has started three highly successful firms during his 49 years in the marketplace: Decora Cabinets and Starmark Inc., now divisions of Fortune Brands, and Showplace Wood Products. He is a true entrepreneur in the cabinet industry.
Kent Bowie (2020)
President & CEO, Metrie
Under his leadership, Metrie has grown to be North America's largest moulding producer. He is a driving force behind the company's culture of putting people first, and has also signed Minerva B.C.’s Diversity Pledge commitment for gender parity. Metrie is also renowned for its community endeavors.
John Bray (2020)
CEO, Vanguard Furniture
Bray helped spearhead the use of digital simulation in the furniture industry and was an early adapter of lean manufacturing. In recognition of his achievements, Bray received the American Home Furnishings Alliance Distinguished Service Award and was inducted into the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame.
Steve Brewster (2010)
Director of Sustainability, Kimball Office
In addition to his work at Kimball, including aiding the office furniture firm’s environmental initiatives, Brewster gained recognition as a speaker on sustainable manufacturing.
Andrew Campbell (2020)
President & CEO, Eastern Millwork Inc.
A forward thinker, Campbell has led the architectural millwork firm to its high level of success by leveraging design innovation, automation, technology and lean manufacturing, plus an aggressive information management system, to fulfill projects that require large volumes of material on tight and shifting schedules.
Gat Caperton (2018)
President & CEO, Gat Creek
Caperton took an existing company and revamped and revitalized it into one of the nation's top residential furniture manufacturers. Along the way, Caperton spearheaded the company's lean journey, and has made large investments in the Gat Creek brand.
Mike Carson (2009)
President, Closet Works Inc.
In addition to founding his own closet company, Carson was instrumental in launching The National Closet Group, the first association for the home storage and organization industry.
Caroline Castrucci (2019)
Vice President of Administration, Laurysen Kitchens Ltd.
In addition to her leadership role at the well-known cabinetry and closets firm, Castrucci is a past-president of the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association and Greater Ottawa Homebuilders Association. She has also received numerous awards for her may years of industry and community involvement.
Mark Clemens (2011)
VP Product Development, idX Corp.
In addition to his efforts at well-known architectural and retail fixture firm idX, Clemens worked to improve the industry and was active in the AWI.
Kathryn Constantine (2017)
Vice President, Brown Wood Inc.
Constantine has helped the components company grow and develop new products, including the popular stock line Designs of Distinction. She is on the KBIS Advisory Council for the NKBA and is active in the KCMA, and other associations.
Jeff De Lonay (2018)
President, Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. Inc. (Kolbe Windows & Doors)
De Lonay has had an integral role in the window and door giant's immersion in continuous improvement, and his extensive woodworking experience and leadership abilities continue to help Kolbe & Kolbe (Kolbe Windows & Doors) adapt to a changing marketplace and be successful.
Michael Evans (2020)
President & CEO, Bestar-Bush
Under Evans’ leadership, Bush has taken a lead role in the RTA industry, including entrance into the commercial office space through retail sales and the launch nationwide drop shipping. Since its acquisition by Bestar, Bestar-Bush looks to further expand its product line and advance its e-commerce capabilities.
Ralph Fehr (2018)
President & Operations Manager, Elias Woodwork & Mfg. Ltd.
Under Fehr’s leadership, Elias Woodwork has become a major player in the wood components industry. It continues to innovate, with projects that include an online ordering system customized to the customer’s product mix and specification.
Margaret Fisher (2010)
Director Market Development, Lange Bros. Woodwork
A business advocate and author, Fisher has been a speaker on behalf of the AWI on the topics of LEED, wood and carbon, and forest sustainability. Her experience has helped the custom woodwork firm grow business.
Bill French (2020)
Owner, Wode-Mode LLC
French rescued Wood-Mode in 2019 after its long-time ownership suddenly shut the doors. He purchased the assets of the cabinet manufacturer, reopened the plant, hired back hundreds of workers, and restored dealer relationships. French also owns Professional Building Systems Inc., which makes modular homes and apartments.
John Gahm (2017)
VP Manufacturing, Kitchen Kompact
Gahm plays an integral role in Kitchen Kompact’s success, including efforts to improve the plant and manufacturing process and enable the cabinet company to diversify its offerings and grow business.
Sylvain Garneau (2016)
Chairman & CEO, Groupe Lacasse
Under Garneau’s leadership, the office furniture maker continues to be highly proactive in its productivity, diversification and creativity, earning several “Best of NeoCon” awards.
Elliot Germany (2017)
President & CEO, Panel Specialists Inc.
Under Germany’s leadership, the multi-million-dollar institutional healthcare woodwork firm has grown in strength and scope, offering a wide range of high-end decorative interior products and systems.
Kent Gilchrist (2013)
President, Fremont Interiors
Gilchrist’s dedication to both his firm, Fremont Interiors, and the architectural industry as a whole have resulted in significant growth for both. He is involved in AWI, WoodLINKS USA, SkillsUSA and WCA.
Bob Gronlund (2012)
Chairman & CEO, Wood-Mode Inc.
Under Gronlund’s leadership, Wood-Mode became one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of custom and semi-custom cabinetry, and also was one of the first in the U.S. to produce frameless cabinetry. Gronlund’s industry commitment also earned him a 2005 Metz Achievement Award.
Tom Happ (2019)
President, Closet Works
Under Happ's leadership, the award-winning company has grown into one of the region's largest providers of closets and custom organization solutions. Happ has also made his mark as a speaker, sharing his expertise with follow manufacturers at industry events.
Caroline Hipple (2019)
President, Norwalk Furniture
Hipple utilized her experience in retail, consulting, importing and domestic furniture manufacturing as she led the turnaround of of Norwalk Furniture. She is currently on the board of the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame and is also co-author of “A Pathway to Profit.”
Roger Jones (2011)
VP Global Logistics, Century Furniture
Jones helped increase international work for the residential furniture maker and was instrumental in developing the infrastructure to support Century’s Lacey Act implementation.
Farooq Kathwari (2016)
Chairman, President & CEO, Ethan Allen Interiors Inc.
Under Kathwari’s leadership, Ethan Allen has become a top producer of residential furnishings, with nine manufacturing facilities, including six U.S. production facilities and a sawmill, plus plants in Mexico and Honduras.
Steve Kincaid (2010)
President, Kincaid Furniture
Under Kincaid’s direction, the company became a leader in solid wood residential furniture, while ensuring the environmentally sustainable manufacturer remained competitive in the global market.
Peter Kleinschmidt (2013)
President, CEO & Chairman, Stiles Machinery
One of the founders of the WMIA, Kleinschmidt’s ability to look at the big picture also helped Stiles grow into what’s perhaps the largest woodworking machinery distributor in the United States.
Edmund ‘Bud’ Klipa (2012)
GM Wood Division, Steelcase Inc.
Klipa helped steer Steelcase’s Wood Division’s offerings to meet the changing workplace modes and trends, and helped the contract furniture giant a stronger global product portfolio through sustainable manufacturing.
Kevin Kuske (2009)
General Wood Manager, Steelcase Inc.
Kuske was instrumental in helping Steelcase reinvent its Wood business and put in place sustainability initiatives, including process and product changes, at the contract furniture giant.
Skip LaBella (2014)
President, Closet America
Under LaBella’s direction, the vertically integrated Closet America has grown significantly and has distinguished itself in the home organization industry through its technology innovations, customized products and service.
Jack Lansford Jr. (2016)
President, Decore-ative Specialties
Lansford has played a key role in the expansion of Decore’s components and capabilities, which in turn have influenced the custom cabinetry market. The company was one of the first to produce raised panel doors within a one-week lead time.
Bastien Larouche (2013)
President, CEO & Founder, Ro-Bois-Tic
Larouche’s innovative approach to manufacturing led to North America’s first lights-out woodworking plant, utilizing robotic technology to provide OEM components to cabinet firms.
Bill LePage (2009)
VP Operations, The Simple Furniture Co.
LePage helped direct the RTA company’s sustainability efforts, making it one of the first to offer an eco-friendly line of children’s furniture. Also offered was RTA furniture for adults.
Bob Lewis (2016)
CEO, Closet & Storage Concepts/More Space Place
Lewis has guided the multi-million-dollar operation to a leadership position in the home organization industry, making it one of the fastest growing franchises in North America.
Joe Lonardo (2015)
Founder & CEO, Bella Systems
In the first seven years since founding the closet company, Lonardo opened three franchises along the East Coast, with more franchises in the works. In addition to work for his own company, Lonardo also works to promote the industry and is active in the ACSP.
Pernille Lopez (2009)
President, IKEA North America
Lopez quickly rose through the company’s ranks, and as the North American president, helped drive IKEA’s growth from a small retailer to a nationally recognized home furnishings and accessories chain.
Matt Lundahl (2012)
COO, Meyer & Lundahl Manufacturing Co.
A “crusader” on behalf of the architectural industry as well as at his own firm, Lundahl has helped grow Meyer & Lundahl into a premier specialty contractor in the Southwest. In addition to charitable endeavors, Lundahl and the firm are also active in AWI.
Christine Marvin (2012)
Dir. of Marketing, Marvin Windows & Doors
Marvin’s contributions at the company have helped ensure the window and door giant remains innovative and continues its long history of industry-first achievements.
Kevin McCoy (2017)
President, National Office Furniture
Under McCoy’s leadership, the environmentally sustainable contract furniture manufacturer recorded consecutive years of record sales while developing strategies and initiatives that also benefited National’s distributors and customers.
Don Mead (2015)
President, The Gunlocke Co.
Mead helped grow the contract furniture firm out of the recession and continue its legacy of quality, design and sustainable manufacturing. Founded in 1902, Gunlocke is renowned for its Oval Office chairs.
Hank Menke Jr. (2013)
President & CEO, OFS Brands Inc.
Menke has helped the office furniture maker remain at the top level through product innovation, value and service. Menke is also a recognized leader for his industry and community efforts.
Ron Montbleau (2018)
Founder & CEO, Montbleau & Associates
Under Montbleau’s leadership, the architectural woodwork firm has thrived, with activity increasing fourfold during the past few years. Montbleau & Associates also has built a factory in Mexico, expanded the facility in San Diego, plus invested millions in technology.
Keith Morgan (2019)
Not only has Bespoke won many awards for its architectural woodwork and custom furniture and cabinetry projects, but Morgan himself is a recognized designer and craftsman in the highly competitive, highly desireable, consumer luxury market. He is also a well-known speaker.
Gene Ponder (2013)
Founder, Master WoodCraft Cabinetry
A recognized entrepreneur, Ponder founded Republic Industries before launching Master WoodCraft Cabinetry, an environmentally sustainable and highly successful cabinet manufacturing firm.
Jeff Pray (2011)
President & CEO, PIN
Under his direction, the store fixture maker has grown and gained recognition. PIN has won numerous awards for its service, product designs as well as innovative use of technology.
Brian Preston (2016)
Founder & Director, Lamon Luther
Providing jobs to give the homeless a “hand up, not a handout,” has been a driving force behind Lamon Luther, a custom woodworking firm founded by Preston.
Mark Richey (2009)
President, Mark Richey Woodworking
Richey’s success comes from his strong environmental initiatives, including the use of wind turbines, as well as empowering employees at the high-end architectural millwork firm.
Kevin Sauder (2009)
President & CEO, Sauder Woodworking
As president & CEO, Sauder has helped drive the RTA giant’s strong environmental initiatives: the company produces almost 300 tons of wood waste daily, yet has not taken a load to the landfill in more than nine years.
Wendy Scott (2020)
Co-Founder, Boutique Closets and Cabinetry
An award-winning designer, with an attention to detail, Scott is also actively involved in the betterment of the industry. Along with her role as president of the Association of Closet & Storage Professionals, she is a well-known speaker at industry events.
Jim Sherbert (2010)
CEO, Bush Industries
Under Sherbert’s direction, Bush diversified into new markets and developed new brands and product lines, while putting in place strategies to increase enterprise value through sustainability.
Kelly Shotbolt (2017)
President, Arauco North America
Shotbolt has led Arauco North America to composite panel dominance, including building the largest continuous press particleboard mill in North America. Shotbolt is also active in the CPA.
Eric Smith (2012)
President & CEO, Panel Processing Inc.
Under Smith’s leadership, Panel Processing has grown to be the largest panel fabricator in the nation, offering diverse manufacturing capabilities.
Steve Stephens (2014)
VP, Marketing & Business Development, acpi Cabinets
Stephens’ dedication, data-driven decisions and research skills helped the cabinet manufacturer develop new markets and opportunities for its products.
Greg Stoner (2010)
President, MasterBrand Cabinets
Stoner parlayed his experience in large-scale manufacturing environments and with multiple distribution channels to position MasterBrand as a leader in the cabinet industry. He is also active in KCMA and promoting the industry.
Karen Strauss (2011)
President, Masco Cabinetry Group
Under Strauss’ direction, Masco consolidated the retail and cabinet divisions into one streamlined organizational structure. Products are made using environmentally responsible manufacturing.
Dan Tafoya (2017)
President, Tailored Living
Starting in 2007 with Closet Tailors, Tafoya and the visionary team behind parent Home Franchise Concepts, transformed and evolved the closet company into one of the most recognized brands in the home organization industry.
Rick Thaler (2016)
President, OGB Architectural Millwork
Under Thaler’s leadership, the 28,000-square-foot architectural woodwork firm has produced a variety of award-winning commercial and residential projects. Ten percent of his net profit is targeted for community giving.
Jimmy Thornberry (2019)
President, Powell Valley Millwork
An inspirational business leader, Thornberry promotes innovative management processes at the moulding manufacturer, and has kept a ready eye on new technology that will move the company forward,. He also supports a number of charitable and education initiatives.
Bob Timberlake (2012)
Chairman, Bob Timberlake Inc.
Timberlake’s innovative approach to design and marketing a branded furniture line helped turn around the furniture industry. Also notable has been his adamancy to keep the manufacture of products in the United States.
Kent Untermann (2014)
Owner, The Art Source
A true entrepreneur, Untermann owns and is actively involved in a number of diverse businesses, including a design studio, picture frame, closets and cabinet manufacturing firms and franchises.
Max Verkamp (2018)
President & CEO, Indian Furniture
Under Verkamp's leadership, the large contract furniture manufacturer has been recognized multiple times for its exemplary service and innovative products. Verkamp is also active in BIFMA and community service.
Brian Walker (2010)
President and CEO, Herman Miller Inc.
Walker led contract furniture giant Herman Miller to be one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” and was instrumental in its adoption of the Economic Value Added financial and performance metric. He was also active in BIFMA.
Richard Walz (2014)
Under Walz’s leadership, the wood components manufacturer has grown from a small shop to more than 250 employees, and with savvy skills, has positioned it for even greater success for years to come.
Ron Wanek (2011)
Chairman, Ashley Furniture Industries Inc.
A self-made millionaire and one of the richest Americans, Wanek has led the residential furniture company to becoming the largest in the nation, and among the first to both source and sell around the world.
Chris Watson (2011)
COO, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp.
In addition to his work on behalf of the industry, Watson has led the wood components firm in strategic initiatives, including resizing of operations and lean manufacturing.
Bill Weaver (2009)
President & CEO, Canyon Creek Cabinet Co.
Weaver took a small company on the verge of bankruptcy and built it into a major cabinet manufacturer, renowned for its sustainability initiatives. He was also active in the KCMA.
Todd Wegman (2016)
President, Stevens Industries Inc.
Wegman helped drive profits and spearheaded the transition to an ESOP at the multi-million-dollar panel laminator. The diverse firm is also a commercial casework and millwork manufacturer, and private label manufacturer.
Paul Wellborn (2016)
President & CEO, Wellborn Cabinet Inc.
Head of the award-winning, large cabinet manufacturer, Wellborn has been recognized with the 2004 Jerry Metz Achievement Award, and is very active in the KCMA including serving as its president.
Jennifer Q. Williams (2010)
Owner & President, St. Louis Closet Co.
In 1991 Williams launched the first locally owned closet firm that installed custom organizing systems, and has watched it grow into a nationally recognized firm. She’s also won multiple awards for her entrepreneurship.
Andy Wilzoch (2009)
Owner & President, Premier EuroCase
With the goal of always moving forward and reinvesting in infrastructure, Wilzoch propelled Premier EuroCase from a 1,000-square-foot shop into one of the largest panel processors, as well as a laminator and casegoods and components maker.
Eric Wolff (2011)
President & CEO, The Stow Co.
Wolff helped lead The Stow Co. to become one of the premier, sustainable manufacturers of closet, garage and other home organization products, including the ORG, EasyClosets and EasyTrack brands.
Mel Yoder (2015)
CEO, Yoder Lumber
Yoder learned the wood industry from the ground up, and for more than 50 years he has worked tirelessly to grow and promote not only his own company, but the hardwood dimension and millwork industry as a whole.
Ola Yoder (2018)
CEO, Kountry Wood Products
Under Yoder's leadership, the cabinetry firm has grown significantly, producing an estimated 6,000 cabinets daily from a combined manufacturing space of 227,000 square feet. Yoder is also involved in industry and community endeavors.
Boe Young (2010)
VP of Manufacturing, Impressions Marketing Group (idX)
Young has helped lead Impressions in many award-winning ventures, including earning multiple “Above and Beyond” awards for customer service and project execution in retail environments.
About the Market Leaders program
The Wood Industry Market Leaders is an audience recognition program, and the selection of the honorees is done by editors of Woodworking Network based on input from industry associations, editorial recommendations and submitted nominations.
The next deadline is June. Those interested in submitting nominations are asked to contact Karen Koenig at email@example.com. Current and past Market Leaders will also be recognized in print, online and at industry events, including Executive Briefing Conferences and Leadership Forums. For more information and to read about this year's class of honorees, visit WoodworkingNetwork.com/Market-Leaders.
Jerry Metz Achievement Award honorees 2003-2008
The predecessor to Market Leaders, the Jerry Metz Achievement Award was created in 2003 in memory of the woodworking legend and longtime Woodworking Network columnist. His popular column, "Consult Jerry Metz," repeatedly touched on the four cornerstones of a successful company: safety, training, quality and productivity. Recipients of the Metz Award were:
2003: Joseph Cannon Jr., president CAS America
Cannon won the award in 2003 for a strong commitment to educating his own workforce, as well as helping to improve Rhode Island's education and business development programs.
2004: Paul Wellborn, president & CEO, Wellborn Cabinets
Throughout his decades-long career at the cabinet manufacturer, Wellborn - "a man with a plan" - has displayed a dedication to productivity and quality.
2005: Bob Gronlund, chairman & CEO, Wood-Mode Inc.
Gronlund received the award due in part to his successful efforts in quality control and innovation, as well as customer and community service.
2006: Sam Stoltzfus, president, Keystone Wood Specialties
Stoltzfus has demonstrated a commitment to safety that resulted in his company being recognized as one of America's Safest Companies.
2007: E.F. "Sonny" Zetmeir, owner, Grandview Products
Zetmeir was recognized for his long-term efforts in fostering an atmosphere of productivity and quality at the cabinet manufacturing company.
2008: Keith Malmstadt, president, Great Lake Woods Inc.
In addition to training at his company, Malmstadt has contributed to training the next generation of woodworkers through the WoodLINKS program.
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