In 1975, when John and wife Chris and son Pinto (then 5) inadvertently landed on the Vineyard, it marked an end to their wandering hippie life (although nothing really changed – they’re still who they were!). Their daughter Sophie was born in 1984, and after they inspired and led the development of Island Cohousing in the late 90’s, they moved in and have been there ever since. Meanwhile John devoted himself to creating, nurturing, and growing SMC and instigating a variety of public initiatives. Along with running the company, he has been a carpenter (way, way long ago), a cabinetmaker (way long ago), and our primary designer (long ago). He oversees design, sales, finance, client relationships, and new endeavors. John’s book COMPANIES WE KEEP: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place, was published by Chelsea Green Publishing in 2008. That faraway look he sometimes gets means he’s probably at a higher elevation, gliding through deep powder, or maybe just imagining what comes next and tending to our future.
Derrill earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree at University of Florida and his Masters of Architecture degree at Virginia Tech. Throughout the 1980’s he veered away from Architecture to pursue photojournalism in Central America, chronicling the difficult human rights situation in Guatemala. During this period, he also worked for Oxfam America and freelanced for several publications, including the Christian Science Monitor. Derrill moved to MV in 1990 for what was intended to be a one year carpentry stint with SMC, and just never left. After six years in the field he moved into the office to become one of our designers. Derrill has been deeply involved in Island affordable housing initiatives and continues to serve as chair of the Aquinnah Community Preservation Committee. Currently his focus has changed to designing and managing our large solar installations, and doing our architectural photography, along with his increased responsibilities at home establishing a home-based autism program for his son Jacob.
After growing up near Hartford, Aaron headed up-river to Dartmouth College. He graduated in 2003 and did not go into finance. No way. He wanted to be a carpenter and he’s been one ever since. And a very good one at that. He came to the Vineyard in 2005, joined up with SMC the next year, and quickly demonstrated that he is a force to be reckoned with. He’s now our youngest foreman and, we hope, one of the lynchpins of our next generation. He hunts ducks, carves decoys, and may have missed his calling as an 18th century pioneer in the Eastern U.S. woodlands.
Born in Atlanta to a family of (mostly) very loud and loving Italians, Rocco has been a river-runner, pizza-slinger, sous-chef, soccer player and coach. He’s built timber frame churches, barns and houses, and most recently, he’s helped bring houses to life as a foreman at South Mountain. After years in the log cabin he built for them in 1998, he and his wife, Holly, and children Gabriel and Madia, moved to Martha’s Vineyard. Rocco is vice-president of M.V. Youth Soccer and serves on committees for the Timber Framer’s Guild of North America. When he’s not working, playing soccer, or cooking dinner, he can be found staring down the shaft of an arrow in the deep woods (at dinner). Our other new Generation Two foreman, Rocco is always making sure that we keep fine craft and timber work in our sights (he wants to be sure we keep the wood behind that arrow).
Deirdre was born and raised in Europe and spent her summers here on the Vineyard. After graduating from Brown University she returned to the Vineyard and worked a variety of jobs before coming to SMC in 1995 to be our bookkeeper. When she made that full time job into a half time job she was able to further her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and start the SMC interiors department. She has continued her whirlwind ways: she chairs our management committee and co- runs the company with John, in addition to interiors supervision and all matters IT. She lives in a restored bungalow in Oak Bluffs with her husband and their young son and she drives the coolest cars in the company.
Ryan made his way down from the hills of New Hampshire to study at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, where he received his B.Arch degree summa cum laude in 1999. He continued south to the Vineyard where, after three years with Breese Architects and some thoughtful wandering, he joined SMC as a project architect. He was heavily recruited to become an owner in 2009 due to such notable qualities as his visionary design prowess, CAD wizardry, dapper dress, melodic voice, cat-like reflexes, breathtaking Halloween costuming, and lack of sarcasm (among others). Ryan is responsible for all phases of architecture, balancing design inspiration with the realities of construction on complex residential and institutional projects. He is a registered architect licensed in Massachusetts, and occasionally a guest faculty member at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School.
Son of a Cape Cod contractor, Matt grew up as a carpenter’s apprentice. After Wentworth’s BARC program he worked in Boston before moving to Martha's Vineyard. He established a base for professional development as an associate in an island architecture firm. Through the Martha's Vineyard Vision Fellowship he became a LEED-AP and pursued a diverse sustainability education at The Ecosa Institute (AZ), The Glenn Murcutt Master Class (Australia) and with the Biomimicry Guild (Costa Rica). Buying an SMC-built 'Zero-Net Energy Home' in 2010 (where he lives with his wife Christine and two children) was followed by a career shift to the design team at SMC. As an Island Housing Trust board member and through his design work he is focused on the immediate issues and legacy of our islands built environment. Full of intellectual energy and never satisfied with the status quo, he sees every design as a unique opportunity to push the evolution of our craft.
Our newest and youngest employee, Hunter Cottrell, was born and raised on the Vineyard. He's loved carpentry ever since those bygone days building tree houses and forts in the woods. Hunter is remarkably versatile - he has added to his carpentry and woodworking skills by becoming a skilled solar installer in a very short time. He has a great interest in renewable energy and our net zero building practices, and we see a bright future for him here. In his free time he still loves being out in the woods or on the edge of a marsh hunting deer and ducks or roaming a stretch of beach with rod and tackle trying to catch dinner.
“Married late middle age carpenter seeks ongoing relationship with chiropractor holding Red Sox season tickets first 20 rows, right field roof deck or green monster. Must have functioning liver.” That’s what he says. We say he juggles more jobs than you can shake a stick at, takes on the tough ones, and keeps all our many maintenance clients (and their houses) happy and in fine shape. He lives down the road from the shop with wife Margaret and three kids and boy does he miss them when they’re gone.
Born in Brazil where he raised cattle and stayed close to the farm, he migrated to Connecticut in 1996 and did landscaping there for awhile before he was drawn to the Vineyard. We met him when he was working for the roofer who does many of our jobs. He came to work at SMC and quickly became a stalwart of the field crews – a hard worker and a fine carpenter. He lives down the road with wife Lisa and their kids, but on week-ends he’s often riding broncs on the rodeo circuit anywhere this side of the Mississippi. He loves it when he stays on for the full 8 seconds. That doesn’t always happen, but Jean always looks on the bright side, even when he’s eating dust!
Brice is originally from Paris France. In 1996 Brice enrolled with les Compagnons Du Devoir, a highly regarded French institute of the trades. Throughout his eight years of studying and apprenticeship Brice focused on plumbing, heating and renewable energy. His training required extensive cultural exchanges throughout Europe which allowed him to gain unique professional insights. He then moved to New Zealand to follow his other great interest - the outdoors - and met Massachusetts-raised Becky, who was to become his wife. After New Zealand he returned to France and worked with a plumbing company developing commercial solar thermal installations and taught solar thermal, energy modeling and HVAC design. Brice and his wife moved to America in the spring of 2011 and shortly after he started with South Mountain where he specializes in HVAC design, solar installation and energy modeling. Other than work, you can find Brice windsurfing around the Vineyard whenever there’s a stiff breeze.
Billy arrived at South Mountain Company in the spring of 1988. He served a traditional Carpentry Apprenticeship program in New York State. After working in the tract home building and high production world he was looking for a change and a challenge. South Mountain provided both. The passion for his craft has kept him learning and growing all these years. A skilled and passionate teacher, he takes our younger carpenters and foremen under his wing, and he teaches stairbuilding and other arcane skills here and elsewhere. Billy is married to Amy Miller and has two amazing daughters, Lucia and Augusta.
Raised in Chicago, he moved east to teach at the Landmark School in the early 70’s. Mike and his wife Liz moved to the Vineyard full time after a school year on the schooner Te Vega sailing from Copenhagen to Piraeus with 38 dyslexic teens. Liz served on the Board of Health in Chilmark with John Abrams and urged him to hire her husband. He did it, and Mike joined the small and growing company in 1985. He has enjoyed twenty-seven years of working and sharing in a large chunk of South Mountain’s history. Mike has managed our pension fund and our equity investment fund since their inception, and he has been a member of our Personnel and Management Committees since they began. Michael has recently retired: along with tending his orchard, he will still do significant work here, but to whatever degree he is not here we will miss him in a very big way.
Born in 1965, Phil grew up in a rural town outside of Boston. His path to becoming a craftsman began with working as a farmhand, restoring an old car and various woodworking jobs. He graduated from college in 1988 with a degree in Environmental Design. Happy to leave school behind, he began a full-time career in construction. After becoming an accomplished cabinetmaker, he started his own custom woodworking business. Realizing that he loved the craft but did not want to manage a business, he joined South Mountain in 1995. His varied roles at SMC have included carpentry, cabinetmaking, small wind turbine installations, and solar thermal work, but he has settled in as a high-level expert at solar electric system design and installation with the highest of standards and professionalism. When he's not at SMC, he's probably with his wife and dog, camping in some remote woods, or busy growing food and working on their homestead.
Curtis was raised on a farm in rural Connecticut. After college in New Haven, he served a year in the Army and five in the National Guard. He moved to Boston, studied at the Boston Architectural Center, and did drafting at an architectural firm. But he liked to make things, so he started a renovation business with a partner and worked for several restoration contractors. He came to the Vineyard to re-live his childhood somewhere cool, came to SMC, and we found that he can do almost anything there is to do with tools, wood, and broken houses. He lives with his wife Heidi, and when he’s not farming on their homestead he’s fishing, birding, or. . . . puppeteering!
Long walks uphill, in the snow, with his split board, is where John does his best thinking. It was the outdoors that challenged him to trade a budding career in finance and skyscrapers for the top of masts and the ocean. Returning to the island, the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard was home for almost 10 years as a rigger, land operations, and Edgartown branch Manager. Feeling the pull back to land, John took on the chaotic party industry joining Big Sky Tents as the companies General Manager. Seasonal work fit John’s lifestyle and his ‘century vacations’ (aka 100 days off in a row) were spent traveling alone rogue, then with his girlfriend, now wife Nevette and baby son Lucas exploring Asia, South America and Central America. But when opportunity came knocking at SMC, John knew that a guy like him who loves numbers (his major was Managerial Economics), getting his hands dirty and has an insatiable need to learn – found home. We think the newest member of the energy team has a bright future.
Ian Gumpel grew up at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains in New York. As a teenager he took a job with a local contractor where he found an interest in building. While spending a summer on Martha’s Vineyard he did some tough work for South Mountain Company and realized how much a skilled carpenter can accomplish. Since then, Ian has dedicated his time to working with the best builders he could find on both the West and East coasts. When he decided to settle on Martha’s Vineyard he knew where he wanted to work. MV and SMC have become his home. As long as there’s no surf on the horizon Ian is focused and dedicated – when the surfs up all bets are off.
Born in New York in 1951, he was raised in California and transplanted himself to Martha’s Vineyard way back in 1969. He has been husband to Clare since 1980 and father to Chelsea, Taylor and Shelby. Hired in 1978, he was one of the original owners when South Mountain Co became worker owned. Pete has pretty much done it all when it comes to residential construction and has been responsible for many of our finest homes over the last 33 years. He’s a member of the Aquinnah Zoning Board of Appeals (which he chaired for a number of years) and he’s a hockey coach, a baseball coach, and a golfer. Dean of the island surfers, he has pretty much dedicated his life to seeking out low-pressure systems on land and especially in the ocean.
“A saw blade spinning / Sawdust falling to the ground / Contentment calling.” That’s Bob. An enigma wrapped in a puzzle. John’s former college room-mate, he and wife Dale came to the Vineyard for a sabbatical from their life in Connecticut and Bob worked at SMC. They went back to Connecticut, finished their house and sold it, moved to the Vineyard in 1993 and they’ve been here ever since.
Beth is a licensed architect who arrived at South Mountain after 10 years as a sole proprietor of her own residential architecture firm. She brings to the South Mountain team a broad range of experience and enjoys the diversity that comes with her position. She is involved in multiple aspects of SMC design work including lighting, plumbing, appliances, cabinets and built-ins, tile, finishes and furniture. A New York City transplant, Beth has lived on Martha’s Vineyard for nearly 20 years, in a house of her own design. She has 2 young boys, Sam and Nicholas, who keep her happy, healthy and sleep-deprived.
Sail boats (specifically the Shenandoah) brought Jon to the Vineyard in 1977 at the age of 19, just as he was starting out on his quest to see the world by sail. But he hadn’t found a berth yet, so Steve Sinnett brought him around to SMC. He had done some carpentry during his teen years, but had mostly worked on old wooden boats, and over the next 20-30 years “ I would show my ugly face looking for work when I found myself stuck on the beach.” Eventually, he became involved in the professional maritime trades full time and was nowhere to be seen for a long time. But when he decided to quit shipping out he came back to SMC for good (for now) and brought a full complement of skills and a meticulous approach to work of all kinds.
Ken laid the foundation of his carpentry skills working alongside respected Vineyard craftsmen in the 70s & 80s. Running his own business for fifteen years provided a deeper understanding of the building trades and allowed him to develop a broad range of technical and practical abilities. He joined SMC in 1997 – initially doing field construction, then moving into the shop where he now specializes in building stairs (when needed) and wood-turning (whenever possible). Raised on a farm in Northeast Iowa, Ken continues to honor the ideals of self-sufficiency that were instilled in him there. He and his wife Juleann enjoy sharing their West Tisbury home with a variety of species from the animal kingdom.
Peggy began working at SMC in 1987 as a carpenter just out of college and mostly barefoot. After a few years of that she became a cabinetmaker and then moved from the shop to the office. Now, more than half her life later, with a husband and two almost-grown kids, she manages our Maintenance Division, chairs the Personnel Committee and procures tools, parts, supplies and hardware. When she is away from this Island, she likes to be on another island - a much smaller one off the coast of Maine.
After thirteen years of desperately trying to be a carpenter, Rob’s peers at South Mountain Company finally got him out of their hair when he shifted from the field to the office in an energy services & product sales role five years ago. As it turns out, swinging a spread-sheet is a better fit for him (and us) than swinging a hammer. Rob relies on an inquisitiveness that is rivaled by only the most tenacious three-year old (“Why? Why? Why?”) and, as he says, “the good fortune of being able to pester both John Abrams & Marc Rosenbaum on a daily basis; how could I not learn something?” His boundless energy, effusive personality, and absolute dedication translate to superb sales and management work. In a sense, he has led the way to building a company (Energy Services) within a company. He and his wife Mary are in the midst of raising four kids in Oak Bluffs.
Our newest addition to the design studio is Greg Milne, who has been in architecture since 1999 when he began working with a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright. After spending his childhood in Vermont, and studying Architectural History at the University of New Hampshire, he received his Master of Architecture degree from Boston Architectural College and has worked in firms in various parts of New England specializing in residential design. He is a talented architectural rendering artist who will be involved in all aspects of design and construction administration here and we expect him to be a great new contributor to the future of SMC. He lives in Vineyard Haven with his wife Reade (also a designer) and children Greta and Felix.
Siobhan hails from Athlone, Ireland. Looking to broaden their horizons back in 1994, she and her partner (now her husband) made the huge leap from the island of Ireland to the island of Martha’s Vineyard!! Siobhan joined us 2003 and finally became an owner in 2010 when she realized that her roots had been firmly transplanted. She is one of our most passionate and committed owners and a member of the Personnel Committee. She keeps herself challenged managing our finances – and helping all of us with health insurance claims and you-name-it-she’s-there-for-us always with a smile and a kind word - and she still somehow succeeds in leaving a clean desk each day. She lives in Vineyard Haven with her husband Patrick and their three sons.
Marc is well known in the high performance building world for his stellar work and deep thinking and his ability, as he says, to “never lets ignorance stand in the way of expressing a firmly held opinion”. He is a long time student of making good buildings and is responsible for the performance of many of the best buildings in New England. After 20 years of consulting with us, he and Jill and Miss Leela Marie the dog are recent wash-ashores. After a life in the far north, he's very happy to have mostly traded driving a car for riding a bike as he moves around the Island. In John’s book The Company We Keep he calls Marc “one of the most intelligent, knowledgeable, and inventive systems engineers I know.” In the second edition he took out “one of”. He is simply the best, and he pushes us all closer to excellence each and every day (and we still put up with him nonetheless).
As a young child Greg enjoyed exploring the house on his Huckleberry Hound rolling rider, while wearing a box on his head. Growing up, he enjoyed fixing and building things, breaking many of his dads’ tools along the way. He went on to study forestry, working during summers at construction. After crabbing on a boat out of Kodiak Alaska (for a captain who became a life long role model) he returned home to Connecticut, cleared trees for building sites, worked as an assistant to the Westchester county N.Y. forester, and finally broke his foot while doing carpentry. While in a walking cast he met a fine cabinetmaker. Indoor work. How sweet it is. After 12 years working for that cabinetmaker he discovered SMC in 2001 through an article on co-housing in Fine Homebuilding, and moved with his family to Martha’s Vineyard. He now lives in Falmouth with his wife and daughter, and commutes on the newspaper boat across Vineyard Sound to the shop. He builds his own boxes but no longer wears them and the rolling rider has been replaced by a Subaru. And he has a serious addiction to perfection.
After receiving her BA in Theatre, Betsy toured around the country making a (paltry) living singing at renaissance festivals. It was fun, and she didn’t want to settle down, because no place resonated in her heart like the Vineyard (where she had spent most of her summers as a child), but who could make a living there? She decided to try, and moved here in 1996. Having been a wandering minstrel for so long, she was surprised how fast and deep her roots sunk in. She rarely wants to leave home. Finding meaningful employment - now THAT took a while longer! To find a place where people mattered more than money, where the quality of the work was as important as the profit . . . it wasn’t until 2003 that Betsy solved that conundrum by coming to work at SMC. Now she lives in a little house with her sweetie of 12 years and goes to work (almost) every day with a smile on her face! And when she gets there, she makes sure that every detail is attended to, every problem solved, and every question answered. Amen.
For nearly 20 years DonE has been part of the South Mountain landscape. He feels lucky to have been surrounded by a group of multi talented people who, together, have created some beautiful buildings and had good times doing it. As he says”: When I go to work on a site and the music is going and we are singing and laughing and conversing about all the things that make life rich and full, I consider myself to be one of the truly blessed parts of this little family.” He’s the one that’s multi-talented. He not only works with wood in every way, shape, and form, he’s a superb machine operator and creative fix-it guy too.
As South Mountain’s cabinet shop foreman, Jim Vercruysse lives his dream. It all started with his early years in his family’s third generation furniture repair and restoration shop on the east side of Chicago. He apprenticed there and soon fell in love with cabinetmaking. This passion carried him to ten years of challenging work in the Boston area where he worked in furniture production and did commission work out of the Vernon Street Studios. Ever since his youth Jim has always made his living in woodworking. Jim and his wife Layne and their two children, Pearl and Taza, live in the up-island town of Aquinnah, where Jim enjoys swimming in the ocean, cycling, gardening and volunteering for his town in a variety of capacities. The extraordinary variety of woodworking experience he’s had means there’s really nothing he can’t tackle. His love for his work and the energy and devotion he brings to each day is contagious (not to mention that he is also a dedicated member of our Management Committee).
Originally from upstate New York, Chris has always had a love of the outdoors which led him to study Forestry and Biology, where he learned more about trees and soil than most would care to know. An Apprenticeship with a Timber frame company in North Carolina gave him the hands on creative experience he was hungry for, and a internship with the Rodale Institute fulfilled a desire to be an active participant and steward of the natural world. For the next 5 years while working with a timber frame company outside of Philadelphia, Chris was also establishing a small organic farm. He eventually wound up back in the Finger Lakes region working with some fellow ESF grads who owned a building company. Here, Chris developed his carpentry skills and began to see the whole building process and the need to understand the big picture, along with the wastefulness and the toxic nature inherent within the building industry. With the ever positive encouragement of his wife, he started his own design build company where he could express all of his interests into one entity. He operated this business for 5 years while starting a family, fixing up an old farmhouse, and of course planting seeds in Trumansburg, NY. Chris answered the “call for carpenters” at SMC looking for an opportunity to develop his craft with similar minded folk, and together with his wife, Elizabeth, raises their two children Annalee and Hudson in a truly remarkable place.