For many years, Brooks Post & Beam President Paul Freeman was mostly on his own designing homes, drawing those designs, consulting with clients, and doing all the other things a business owner has to do to stay in business. Founder Phil Brooks still had a hand in after selling to Paul, but he had lots of other things going on, as well.
At the same time, John Fiery was working as a successful general contractor. During his 20 years in the business, he had gravitated toward the specialty market – including timber frame and log homes.
Then the Great Recession hit, and just as Paul was getting used to running this business, John was already in the process of packing his in.
“I decided I didn’t want to be a general contractor anymore because it was stressful,” he said, “and there was not enough money in it at that time.”
As part of this career pivot, he got a degree in Architectural Engineering Technology (to go along with an earlier degree in Business Management), while also working as an estimator and engineered lumber specialist at Milford Lumber. An opportunity came along to work with a timber frame company – run by a former Brooks employee who uses similar production and design methods. That job gave him valuable experience in timber frame design and production, but ended after a year and a half. He then returned to Milford Lumber, where he continued to work with contractors and homeowners on everything from floor and roof trusses, engineered beams, and structural design to windows, doors and millwork.
Then Phil suggested that Brooks offer timber frame kits for sale, but that major undertaking would require more hands. They called John for lunch; conveniently, his experience at the other timber frame company helped make him a prime candidate.
“I had the background,” he recalled. “I used to build these things, and then I designed them for the other guy.
“I stepped into Paul’s circle of people knowing the system as well as anybody could. There was no learning curve. The only thing he had to do was show me his TimberCAD program to design the things.”
Early in 2020, John joined the Brooks team full time. He has been a key factor getting our new kits drawn up, a huge job adapting Paul’s designs into more generic drawings that can be adapted to different building sites. In addition, he corresponds with potential and current clients, works on the owner’s manuals, and was part of the team that created this website.
According to Paul, John’s previous experience at the lumber yard is also advantageous to the company.
“He has so much knowledge of ‘boots on the ground’ construction reality and pricing and recommendations on materials,” said Paul. “I never would have even tried to find someone with this kind of experience because there was just no way there could be anyone with such a uniquely perfect set of skills, and yet here he was right under my nose working for one of our vendors.
“Together we are a pretty unbeatable team!”
John, meanwhile, says Brooks allows him to have the kind of long-term working relationship with clients that he really values.
“For the typical customer investing in this type of home, this is a very personal process for them – people have been dreaming about this a long time,” he said. “They really appreciate the thoughtful design, skilled craftsmanship, and well over 100 years of combined experience that we can offer.”
John lives in Amherst, NH, with his wife Danielle.