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Freeman Paul

Born in London, England I vividly remember sailing into the Port of New York past the statue of liberty, while standing on the upper deck of the Queen Elizabeth II with my Dad. A rough overnight bus ride found us at dawn across from the state capital building in Montpelier, VT. It was Nov. 7, 1967, it was starting to snow, a car passed by with a gutted bear strapped to the roof. I was fascinated, my mother horrified, and so began our rural New England adventure. Within a year we were living at the end of a long dirt road, in a timber frame home, that was barely accessible in the fifth season of the year, "mud season".

Fast forward a decade and I find myself studying architectural engineering at Vermont Technical College and the University of Vermont, encouraged by "Mum", who saw the builder in the boy that could not refrain from building with any material at hand; Lincoln Logs, Legos, playing cards, cord-wood, mashed potatoes...

Sitting in a lecture one afternoon it became clear that my boyhood home with its weathered dark beams, gunstock posts, and multilayered wall sheathing was a 250 year old colonial post and beam home, and that its unique character was due to a process known as timber framing.

Before graduation I had secured a position at Timberpeg and thus began my post graduate study in design under the masterful eye of Jim Dreisch. Working in their production design department, I spearheaded the transition into CAD and computer generated energy analysis. In 1987 I moved on as a consultant for CAD software installations throughout New England and partnered with Ed Levin to develop the first Computer Aided Design program for Timber Framers, TimberCAD. During this time I continued to work independently as an architectural designer specializing in timber frame homes.

In the early 90's I met Phil Brooks who had by now developed the first computer operated automated timber cutting machinery. In collaboration we developed a highly efficient and productive timber framing operation. We were the first in the U.S. to integrate CAD software to production timber framing, and we streamlined our operation with joinery standards, employee centered benefit and incentive programs, and a close compatibility with Foard Panel's SIP design and production methods. In 2006 I was blessed with the opportunity to take over this uniquely well positioned company with Phil Brooks' ongoing support and involvement.

I live in Greenfield, NH with Becky Hudson and her menagerie of teenage girls, chickens, cats, a horse and a vivacious 120lb Bernese Mountain "Puppy". Together we manage this small but remarkably productive and sustainable timber framing business. I sit on the Vestry in our local Episcopal church, I serve on the board of directors for an anthroposophic community for developmentally disabled adults, and on the BuildGreenNH Steering Committee. I have been a dedicated member of the Timber Framer's Guild of North America for over 25 years and more recently was nominated to join the Timber Frame Business Council's Board of Directors. I find the conferences , the education and the camaraderie of these organizations critical to my success and enjoyment of this work. I am fortunate to have been a member of this vibrant community of like-minded tradespeople, where I have learned best practices in timber framing and business management as well as good leadership modeled by so many successful and generous timber frame business leaders.

I arrived in this country in a family full of wonder and hope, firm in our belief that here we had the opportunity to shape our future. Tenacity, faith, and a "can-do" attitude rewarded us with those opportunities. This country still rewards those willing to work hard, do right, and take care of each other. This approach works in business as well. Despite the dramatic downturn in new construction, we find our selves busy and working hard to maintain the legacy established by Phil Brooks over 40 years ago.

Running a business requires this same sense of purpose and optimism that brought my family to this country. Contracting someone to build your home, barn or office takes no less commitment or ambition. There is risk in everything we do, but you don't get ahead without taking chances, and with hard work, planning, and a belief that you can accomplish great things you will succeed. I learned this from my parents and I bring it to my business.

Take care of each other and may all of you be blessed during this holiday season and the coming new year.

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