CMA members network in North Boston
Phil Lowe, founder of the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts in Beverly, Massachusetts, tells visiting members of the Cabinet Makers Association about the school and what it does.
Since its inception the Cabinet Makers Association has been focused on educational and networking programs to help cabinet shops improve their businesss. To that end about two dozen CMA members converged on the North Boston area for two days of shop tours, educational presentations, and face-to-face networking.
Ken Kumph, president of Premier Builders in Georgetown, Massachusetts, welcomed the CMA members to his shop to launch the event on June 13. Primarily a custom residential contractor with 18 employees, Premier Builders also has a robust cabinet shop. Attendees packed into the Premier Builders office for educational presentations.
Pete Nersessian of Inertia Resources talked about issues related to shop energy resources. While it doesn’t apply to all areas, deregulation has opened up competition for electrical utility services. Nersessian explained how brokers like his company can sometimes help shops secure lower electrical power rates and manage their utility contracts.
Greg Larson of the New England School of Architectural Woodworking and a board member of the Woodworking Career Alliance talked to the CMA members about the WCA and efforts to improve training of skilled workers in the woodworking industry. He explained how the organization’s evaluators examine and qualify skills of woodworkers, judging those skills against industry standards. He said the skills standards are extensive but continue to expand including a new category for machine specialists.
Continuing in the education vein, CMA members boarded a bus to visit The Furniture Institute of Massachusetts in Beverly, Massachusetts. Founded and operated by Phil Lowe, the school emphasizes classical furniture making techniques to prepare participants for a career in furniture making. Lowe explained how the school teaches both machine and hand processes as students build a variety of antique reproduction and contemporary pieces.
CMA regional event attendees were impressed by the extensive showroom at Curtis Cabinetry in Georgetown, Massachusetts.
After lunch at Salem Beerworks in Salem, Massacusetts, the CMA group headed back to Georgetown to Curtis Cabinetry. Ed Curtis, a longtime CMA member took everyone on a tour of his facility including an extensive showroom encompassing about a third of his building. He described how he uses the showroom strategically to guide customers through the decision process for their custom kitchen or built-ins. Curtis also walked attendees through his shop, explaining production flow and the equipment in use.
Participants headed back to Premier Builders for a shop tour, wood-fired pizza cookout, and table-top presentations from a number of sponsors, including Atlantic Plywood, Colonial Saw (Lamello), Hoffmann Machine Co., KCD Software, and REHAU.
The second day of the event began with more networking and education presentations. Eric Ciampoli of ECIC Consulting spoke on lean manufacturing principles and strategies to implement them. Jack West of Federated Insurance gave a presentation on cybersecurity as it relates to woodworking manufacturers.

Wine cellars are the specialty of Vigilant Inc. in Dover, New Hampshire, so attendees at the regional event learned what is involved in building for this niche market.
Shop tours on the second day took attendees all the way to New Hampshire to toor Vigilant Inc. in Dover, New Hampshire, which specializes in custom wine cellars, wine cabinets, wine lockers, and cigar cabinets. From there, the group went on to tour Jackson Lumber & Millwork in Raymond, New Hampshire.
The CMA’s next regional event is scheduled for August 22-23 in Minneapolis. For information about that event or about the Cabinet Makers Association in general, visit

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.