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858 posts in 1271 days

Location: Grayslake, IL.

Summer 1972

At 14 yrs old, I began my apprenticeship with master carpenter, Alan Melhiser during the summers in Austin Texas. I learned how to build cabinets on the jobsite, conventional stick framing and custom trim work. He patiently showed me by example and with a kind voice how to have a strong work ethic.

Back then, we used a Stanley back saw miter box (no cord) and eventually, upgraded to a PC miter box with a sacrificial wooden table. We had a 9" Rockwell table saw with a tilt top, aluminum PC #315 skill saws - no carbide blades yet, Yankee ratchet screwdrivers, Stanley 9 1/2 and 60 1/2 block planes and plumb bobs, Velander wood levels,, Disston hand saws (6 and 12 pt.) and Blue Grass wood handled hammers with bees wax in a hole in the end for the 6 and 8 penny common trim nails - so the trim wouldn't split from nailing it by hand.

Woodworking came naturally to me. I was a student shop teacher and I went to a Cabinet and Mill-work trade school during High school.

My Grandfather was an inventor and opened my eyes to what you can do with the right tools and a great idea. My mother is an artist and was very inspirational. I remember working on many projects and in the garden together.

1980 - After a tour in the Navy on the aircraft carrier, Enterprise, I moved to Lake Forest Illinois, met a girl, got married and started a remodeling business:

Reed Builders, inc.

I went to the Lake County college at night to study Architecture, Construction Tech., Microsoft Office and QuickBooks pro, Real Estate Practice and Small Business Management.

In the early years I also followed opportunity to work with prominent north shore contractors such as Traditional Concepts, Page Builders and Chicago's oldest union cabinet shop, Dettmers.

They offered a way for me to work on larger projects and learn many things about the Union way, high end project management and office politics.

But I always maintained my remodeling/cabinetry business which kept me busy on weekends and during slow times, like we have now.

We avoided huge overhead costs with our in home office and small cabinet shop. We never borrowed money and stayed manageable with only 4 - 8 men. The rest of the crew are sub contractors, some we've known for over 26 years.

I have been fortunate to work mostly in Lake Forest and Lake bluff IL, one of the wealthiest towns in America. The people here are very nice and appreciate good quality work. Most of my clients know each other. I prefer to work with references only but enjoy meeting new people to see if we are a good fit.

We are mostly a kitchen and bath remodeler these days. We handle everything including design service and 3D drawings. We provide and install Plato Cabinetry or we can build custom built ins such as: paneled libraries, mantles, home theaters, wine rooms, organizer closets and pantries for clients and Architects.

We also do complete house gut and remodels, historic restorations, timber frame additions, furniture repairs, Halloween props, shade arbors and decks.

Me personally?

I believe we should pay it forward.
Our immortality lies in the knowledge we leave behind.
Our mark in the world lives on in the things we create.

-- mark

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17 comments so far

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 2369 days

#1 posted 1271 days ago

Welcome to Lumberjocks. The projects are an inspiration, the information is priceless and the people are supportive. The only problem is, the site can get addictive.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View SnowyRiver's profile


51451 posts in 2075 days

#2 posted 1271 days ago

Welcome aboard. Nice that you could join us on Lumberjocks.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View surfin2's profile


51278 posts in 1731 days

#3 posted 1271 days ago

Welcome To LumberJocks, Good Luck…

-- Rick

View Splinterman's profile


23058 posts in 1956 days

#4 posted 1271 days ago

“WELCOME to LJ’s” …Enjoy the experience.

View reedwood's profile


858 posts in 1271 days

#5 posted 1270 days ago

Hi everybody,
Mark here. Thanks for the hearty welcome! I have enjoyed this reading this site so far.

-- mark

View Max's profile


55956 posts in 2868 days

#6 posted 1270 days ago

Glad to see that you have made LumberJocks a part of your Woodworking experience… Welcome

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View woodzy's profile


413 posts in 1274 days

#7 posted 1269 days ago

Welcome, i typically leave the hello’s to the friendly welcome wagon, but your stoy is interesting. Your toolbox has me interested in any futurre project you post. Thanks.

-- Anthony

View Chris's profile


27 posts in 1444 days

#8 posted 1268 days ago

Welcome from a fellow contractor just to your north.
You have a great business philosophy and looking at your work so far I think you will be a great asset to this site. I cant wait to see more.

-- Chris, Hubertus, WI

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13337 posts in 2268 days

#9 posted 1268 days ago

Welcome to LumberJocks!

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View Rogue's profile


260 posts in 2065 days

#10 posted 1267 days ago

Hey new buddy! The fishtack stand is made out of hard maple that I milled on my sawmill and a few pieces of maple ply. The bends for the front a laminate bends. I look forward to seeing yours be sure to put it up on LJ.

-- Rogue

View Ryan Bruzan's profile

Ryan Bruzan

148 posts in 1490 days

#11 posted 1266 days ago

That’s very inspiring. There is a tremendous difference between those who just play the game and those who have the game and its players at heart.

-- No matter how many factors go into thinking about a project, there is always one important new discovery to be made.

View ShopTinker's profile


872 posts in 1363 days

#12 posted 1266 days ago

Welcome to LJ. This is best place on the net to share and learn from a great bunch of friendly, talented, helpful woodworkers. I’ll warn you, it’s very addictive.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Tom Pritchard's profile

Tom Pritchard

100 posts in 1286 days

#13 posted 1256 days ago

Very beautiful finish and fantastic job. Next time I sell a stackable washer and dryer set at Lowe’s I’ll suggest they look to see what you have done.

Tom from Madison, Indiana (SE Indiana)

-- Tom in Madison, Indiana

View BTKS's profile


1967 posts in 2059 days

#14 posted 1255 days ago

Welcome to LJ’s. I look forward to seeing more of your craftsmanship.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Dustin's profile


385 posts in 2045 days

#15 posted 1254 days ago

I admire your work quite a bit. You’re very talented and knowledgeable.

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

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