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Back to the drawing board

Jim Falk, the owner of Progressive Wood Works in Port Chester, N.Y., has honed the style and fabrication techniques of his woodworking business through the years to produce a traditional English-style cabinetry in the most efficacious way possible. Established in 1983, PWW has built a solid reputation of making custom and innovative cabinetry with its high-end clients throughout New York and Connecticut.

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About four years ago, a portion of the business was dedicated to design and preproduction services, and now the company's services are a 50-50 split between these and custom fabrication. Included with the design services are drawings in AutoCAD format for architectural submissions and easy interface with other design programs, along with complete detailing and cut listing for CNC manufacturing.

"Our design service allows the small shops to concentrate on sales and production, instead of the wood engineering. There's a lot that takes place between meeting with the client and saying we're going to build your job, and actually putting the pieces of wood through the saw," says Falk.

Working with associate Bill Walker, Falk does design work particularly for small shops that don't have the technical knowledge or ability to be able to put together architectural submissions and do some of the complex work. The popularity of this service has gradually made the company more focused on design rather than manufacturing, so much that Falk might let go of the fabrication end in the near future.

Starting solo

Falk grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he majored in psychology. He eventually began working for an insurance company as a building and safety inspector in the southern counties of New York.

Falk says he wasn't blending in too well with the corporate lifestyle and was lucky to find somebody that was looking for a cabinetmaker. He had been passionate about woodworking and was building furniture on the side throughout his youth into his adulthood. He took a 50 percent cut in pay, gave up his company car and went to work in a barn heated by a wood stove in Rye, N.Y.

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