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 2009-2016.
Keith Atherholt (2010)
President, Lewis Lumber Products
In addition to his work on behalf of the industry, under Atherholt the millwork/components producer increased sales, profits and products, while reducing operating costs.
Neil Balter (2013)
Founder, Organizers Direct
Prior to founding Organizers Direct in 1995, Balter founded California Closets, the nation’s largest home organization franchise.
Bill Barton (2012)
President & CEO, California Closets
Barton has helped home organization giant California Closets grow even larger and more innovative, often looking outside the industry for new ideas.
John Bassett III (2012)
Chairman, Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co.
Under Bassett’s leadership, the company has become the largest domestic producer of wood adult bedroom furniture. Bassett is 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 firm has not only improved its production capabilities, but also racked up impressive sales growth.
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.
Franco Bianchi (2011)
President & CEO, Haworth Inc.
Under Bianchi’s leadership, Haworth has grown in brand recognition, offering integrated and innovative products for the contract furniture market.
Tony Bour (2015)
CEO, Showplace Wood Products
No stranger to the cabinet industry, Tony 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.
Steve Brewster (2010)
Director of Sustainability, Kimball Office
In addition to his work at Kimball, Brewster has gained recognition as a speaker on sustainable manufacturing.
Mike Carson (2009)
President, Closet Works Inc.
Carson was instrumental in launching The National Closet Group, the first association for the home storage and organization industry.
Mark Clemens (2011)
VP Product Development, idX Corp.
In addition to his efforts at idX, Clemens has worked to improve the industry and is active in the AWI.
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.
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, including several “Best of NeoCon” awards.
Kent Gilchrist (2013)
President, Fremont Interiors
Gilchrist’s dedication to both his firm and the architectural industry as a whole has resulted in significant growth for both.
Bob Gronlund (2012)
Chairman & CEO, Wood-Mode Inc.
Under Gronlund’s leadership, Wood-Mode has become one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of custom and semi-custom cabinetry.
Roger Jones (2011)
VP Global Logistics, Century Furniture
Jones helped increase international work and develop 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 is 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 has become a leader in solid wood residential furniture.
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 U.S.
Edmund ‘Bud’ Klipa (2012)
GM Wood Division, Steelcase Inc.
Klipa has helped steer Steelcase’s Wood division’s offerings to meet the changing work modes and trends, and building a stronger global product portfolio through sustainable manufacturing.
Kevin Kuske (2009)
General Wood Manager, Steelcase Inc.
Kuske helped Steelcase reinvent its Wood business and put in place sustainability initiatives at the office furniture giant.
Skip LaBella (2014)
President, Closet America
Under LaBella’s direction, Closet America has grown significantly and has distinguished itself through its technology innovations, 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.
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.
Bill LePage (2009)
VP Operations, The Simple Furniture Co.
LePage helped direct the RTA company’s sustainability efforts, including an eco-friendly line of children’s furniture.
Bob Lewis (2016)
CEO, Closet & Storage Concepts/More Space Place
Lewis has guided the multi-million dollar group to a leadership position, and one of the fastest growing North American franchises.
Joe Lonardo (2015)
Founder & CEO, Bella Systems
In the seven years since founding the closet company, Lonardo has already opened three franchises along the East Coast, with more in the works.
Pernille Lopez (2009)
President, IKEA North America
Lopez helped direct 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” for the architectural industry as well as his own firm, Lundahl has helped grow Meyer & Lundahl into a premier specialty contractor in the Southwest.
Christine Marvin (2012)
Dir. of Marketing, Marvin Windows & Doors
Marvin’s contributions have helped ensure the fenestration giant remains innovative, and continues its long history of industry-first achievements.
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 renown 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.
Gene Ponder (2013)
Founder, Master WoodCraft Cabinetry
A recognized entrepreneur, Ponder founded Republic Industries before launching the successful Master WoodCraft cabinet manufacturing firm.
Jeff Pray (2011)
President & CEO, PIN
Under his direction, the store fixture maker continues to grow and gain 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, as well as empowering employees.
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.
Jim Sherbert (2010)
CEO, Bush Industries
Under Sherbert’s direction, Bush has diversified into new markets and developed new brands and product lines, while putting in place strategies to increase enterprise value through sustainability.
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 a variety of manufacturing capabilities.
Steve Stephens (2014)
VP, Marketing & Business Development, acpi Cabinets
Stephens dedication and research skills have helped the cabinet firm develop new markets and opportunities for its products.
Greg Stoner (2010)
President, MasterBrand Cabinets
Stoner parlayed his experience in large-scale manufacturing environments to help position MasterBrand in its leadership role in the cabinet industry.
Karen Strauss (2011)
President, Masco Cabinetry Group
Under her direction, Masco consolidated the retail and cabinet divisions into one streamlined organizational structure.
Rick Thaler (2016)
President, OGB Architectural Millwork
Under Thaler’s leadership, the architectural woodwork firm has produced a variety of award-winning commercial and residential projects.
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.
Kent Untermann (2014)
Owner, The Art Source
A true entrepreneur, Untermann owns and is actively involved in a number of diverse businesses, including wood products manufacturing firms and franchises.
Brian Walker (2010)
President and CEO, Herman Miller Inc.
Walker has led contract furniture giant Herman Miller to be one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” according to Fortune magazine.
Richard Walz (2014)
Under Walz’s leadership, the wood components firm has grown from a small shop to more than 250 employees, and is positioned for even greater success in the future.
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 be 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.
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, commercial casework and millwork manufacturer, and private label manufacturer.
Paul Wellborn (2016)
President & CEO, Wellborn Cabinet Inc.
Head of the award-winning cabinet firm, Wellborn has been recognized with the 2004 Jerry Metz Achievement Award, and is very active in the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn., and is 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.She’s 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 the firm from a 1,000-square-foot shop into one of the largest panel processors, as well as a casegoods and components maker.
Eric Wolff (2011)
President & CEO, The Stow Co.
Under Wolff's direction, Stow has become one of the premier, sustainable manufacturers of home organization products.
Mel Yoder (2015)
CEO, Yoder Lumber
For more than 50 years, Yoder has worked tirelessly to grow and promote not only his own company, but the hardwood dimension and millwork industry as a whole.
Boe Young (2010)
VP of Manufacturing, Impressions Marketing Group
Young has helped lead Impressions in its winning ventures, including multiple awarding of the A.R.E.’s “Above and Beyond Award” for customer service and project execution.