Woodworking industry mourns Stephen Carter

Steve Carter, longtime owner of Williams & Hussey Machine and Tool Co. and past president of the WMMA, has died. He was 75.

Stephen Vincent Carter, former owner of Williams & Hussey Machine and Tool Co. and past president of the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America, died on Wednesday, June 14, 2023. He was 75.

According to his published obituary, he died “unexpectedly in the arms of his wife of 48 years, Denise Carter.”

Born December 20, 1947, to Leslie and Mary Carter in Manchester, New Hampshire, Carter graduated from Bishop Bradley High School. He obtained his bachelor's degree at Plymouth State and then earned a master’s degree in business at Southern New Hampshire University.

Carter met Denise Fradette in 1973, and they were married on June 7, 1975. They had three children, Mark, Beth, and Ryan.

He applied his business acumen to the moulder manufacturer Williams & Hussey, which he took over in 1976. He followed the model of shaving companies, selling a compact, reasonably priced machine and then doing years of repeat business with the customer by selling custom moulder knives. His machines were common in smaller shops that had neither the space nor budget for big moulders. For some, such as remodelers specializing in antique houses, the Williams & Hussey moulder was the centerpiece of their operation.

Carter reveled in the fact that his machines were American made. Although his original background and education was in business, he took a hands-on approach to manufacturing and delighted in showing off his small manufacturing facility in New Hampshire. For many years, he was an institution on the small regional woodworking show circuit, selling his machines across the country.

“Over the next four decades (owning Williams & Hussey) he successfully provided a living for his cherished employees and beloved family,” according to his published obituary. “He was the first one in and the last one out. He sold the company in 2020 and looked forward to a restful retirement.”

Steve Carter at WMMA fly-in
Carter served for many years on the WMMA Public Policy Committee, and he was a regular participant in fly-ins to Washington D.C. to help educate lawmakers about the woodworking industry.

He was active in boosting not only the business of the shops that bought his machines but also the industry as a whole. Long active in the WMMA, he eventually served as president of the organization. He was also regularly active in the organization’s Public Policy Committee and participated in the annual fly-ins to Washington D.C. to keep politicians aware of the concerns of the woodworking industry.

"As always ready with a witty comment, Steve Carter was a great leader within the WMMA and a true friend of the woodworking community for decades and will be missed by many," said Jamison Scott, president of Air Handling Systems, and past president of the WMMA as well as current chair of the Public Policy Committee.

“I was especially saddened to hear that Steve passed away recently," said Tim Fixmer, CEO of CCI Media LLC, the parent of FDMC and Woodworking Network. "Steve was more than just a customer to the Woodworking Network, Steve was a good friend. Our annual golf outings at the WIC conference were always looked forward to. His sense of humor and quick wit provided hours of entertaining companionship. Steve was a great businessperson, a strong leader, and a kind and compassionate human being. He will be missed.”

In 2018, while serving as president of the WMMA, Carter tried to help close the skills gap. “I want to use what resources I have as a manufacturer and exert what influence I have as president of the WMMA to make a positive impact on strengthening our manufacturing jobs base,” Carter said at the time. “We need to change the mindsets of guidance counselors, parents and students that there are rewarding careers in manufacturing.”

After selling his company to OSC Technologies and retiring in 2020, Carter spent time meticulously manicuring his lawn, planting flower beds, exercising, golfing, and cycling. But he also continued to do some consulting work for OSC even after they moved the moulder operation to Iowa. He remained active in the industry, attending the Woodworking Industry Conference in San Diego in April and continuing to serve on the WMMA Public Policy Committee.

Steve Carter in retirement with dog
After selling his company in 2020, Carter looked forward to an active retirement, meticulously manicuring his lawn, planting flower beds, exercising, golfing, and cycling.

Most importantly, according to his published obituary, Carter “enjoyed spending time with his wife, brother, children, and six grandchildren. He had the gift of bringing joy and laughter to everyone in his presence.”

Carter is survived by his wife, Denise Fradette Carter, and children, Mark (wife: Melissa) Carter, Beth (husband: Philip) Abinya, Ryan (wife: Jillian) Carter, as well as his brother Leslie (wife: Charlene) Carter.

A celebration of life for Carter was slated for Wednesday, June 21, 2023, from 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM at McHugh Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 283 Hanover St, Manchester, New Hampshire 03104. A funeral mass was to be held Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 10:00 AM at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, 190 Meetinghouse Rd, Bedford, New Hampshire.

Memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.McHughFuneralHome.com for the Carter family.


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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.