In 1975, when John, his wife Chris, and their son Pinto (then 5) inadvertently landed on the Vineyard, it marked an end to their wandering hippie life and the beginning of South Mountain. Their daughter Sophie was born in 1984, and after they inspired and led the development of Island Cohousing in the late 90’s, they left Chilmark, moved in, and have been there ever since. Throughout, John devoted himself to creating, nurturing, and growing SMCo and instigating a variety of public initiatives. These days he concentrates on sales, client relationships, design, and strategic planning. 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 either at a higher elevation, gliding through deep powder, or imaging what comes next and tending to our future.
Born in Atlanta to a family of (mostly) very loud and loving Italians, Rocco has been a white-water rafting guide, pizza-slinger, sous-chef, soccer player and coach; for the past 8 years he has served as vice-president of MV Youth Soccer. As a member of the Timber Framer’s Guild, Rocco has built timber frame churches, barns and houses around the country, and he is a foreman and co-owner at South Mountain. His hobbies include hunting and tracking deer, among other wildlife, with his son Gabriel and cooking and serving venison, among other dishes, with his daughter Madia.
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 SMCo 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 SMCo 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 also serves as the Treasurer on the Vineyard Montessori School Board of Trustees. Deirdre lives in a restored bungalow in Oak Bluffs with her husband and their young son.
As Co-Manager of the Architecture Department, Ryan works with John Abrams to oversee design, integrate Architecture with the Production and Energy Departments, and guide the long-term direction of South Mountain design. He is responsible for all phases of architecture, balancing design inspiration with the realities of construction on complex residential and commercial projects. Ryan has also assisted with master planning efforts for such island institutions as the MV Museum, Island Grown Initiative, and MV Community Services. Ryan joined South Mountain Company in 2002, became a co-owner in 2009, and has been a Management Committee member since 2011. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Wentworth Institute of Technology and is a Registered Architect in Massachusetts.
Son of a Cape Cod contractor, Matt grew up as a carpenter’s apprentice. After Wentworth’s Architecture program in Boston and France, he became an associate in an island-based 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). In 2010 he and his wife, Christine, bought an SMCo-built 'Zero-Net Energy Home' where they live with their two children. The experience deepened his appreciation for high performance design and led him to work with the Architecture department at SMCo. As an architect and when working for the Island Housing Trust Development Committee, he is focused on the legacy of our islands built environment and the evolution of our craft.
“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 SMCo 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 weekends 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 the United States in the spring of 2011 and shortly after he started with South Mountain where he specializes in HVAC design, solar installation, and energy modeling. Since moving to the island Brice and Becky have welcomed two children Hugo and Gwen and moved into their new net zero house that they designed and built with the support of friends and family. You can find Brice kitesurfing around the Vineyard whenever there’s a stiff breeze.
Billy arrived at South Mountain Company in the Spring of 1988 and completed a traditional Carpentry Apprenticeship program in New York. 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.
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 cabinet maker, 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 SMCo have included carpentry, cabinet making, small wind turbine installations, and solar thermal work, but he has settled in as a high-level expert at solar electric system integration. When he's not at SMCo, he's probably with his wife and dog, camping in some remote woods, or busy growing food and working on their homestead.
Angie comes to South Mountain with 10 years of high-end residential design and development experience on Martha’s Vineyard. She brings with her a collaborative spirit, a passion for modern, regionally appropriate design, and obsessive organizational skills. Angie received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2001 and is a Registered Architect in the state of Massachusetts. She resides in Vineyard Haven with her husband James (also an Architect) and two young daughters, Evelyn and Frances.
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 SMCo, 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!
Lin is a structural engineer with a wide range of experience over his 12-year career. While his primary focus has been building design, his passion for solving complex problems has led to experience in forensic engineering, transportation planning, geotechnical engineering, and software development. Lin is a registered professional engineer in CT, MA, NY, and RI, and has worked on engineering projects throughout the United States.
At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the town where he grew up, Lin received the following degrees: Bachelor of Civil and Environmental Engineering degree and Master of Science in Civil Engineering (Structural Engineering and Mechanics).
He joined SMCoo after partnering with the company on the design and installation of his family’s home PV system, in addition to consulting on several building and energy projects.
Lin lives in Vineyard Haven with his wife Kelly, son Asher, and daughter Ayla, in the home they built with the help of family, friends, and (now) co-workers.
Walking uphill, in the snow, with his split board or snowshoes, is where John does his best thinking. It was the outdoors and love for being on the water 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 company's 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 young son Lucas exploring Asia, South America, and Central America. But, when the opportunity came knocking at SMCo to apply his love of numbers (his major was Managerial Economics), eagerness to get his hands dirty, and insatiable need to learn, John knew he had found home.
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 SMCo 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.
After a 25-year career researching the effects of human-induced forest area changes on the global carbon cycle, Joe went on to work at a solar firm doing residential and commercial installations and maintenance.
A Falmouth resident and founding member of a cohousing community there, Joe has an abiding interest in things related to energy performance and efficiency. He is wicked pleased with the opportunity to become (at the same time) the 2nd most senior and the most junior member of the South Mountain’s Energy team.
He is a systems thinker, mechanic and ensemble vocalist.
Newell Isbell Shinn
Newell has been juggling his whole life, from an ice axe and snowballs in the backcountry, to projects, schedules, budgets, and crews at SMCo. When Newell left a family timber frame business to move here with son Jasper and wife Jennie he was drawn by SMCo’s outstanding caliber of craft and its heart for making a better world. We’re still not sure exactly what a Production Manager is, but Newell spends a lot of time estimating, planning, and coordinating client projects with our team of in-house architects, builders, managers, and building scientists. He has fallen hard for the Vineyard, its people, ecology, and history and feels lucky to be doing what he is doing, in a place that captures his imagination and calls forth his best work.
Beth is a licensed architect who arrived at South Mountain Company 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 SMCo design work including lighting, plumbing, appliances, cabinets and built-ins, tile, and finishes. Beth also provides many of our clients with complete interior design services, including furniture and fabric selection, window treatment, upholstery, and custom furniture design. A New York City transplant, Beth has lived on Martha’s Vineyard for over 20 years, in a house of her own design. She has 2 teenage boys, Sam and Nicholas, who keep her happy and healthy.
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 SMCo. 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, he came back to SMCo 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 70's and 80's. 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 SMCo 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.
Primo grew up here on Martha's Vineyard. He’s traveled all over, but, as he says, “there is something special to me about the Vineyard community and to being an Islander. I enjoy helping people and volunteering, being a father to my boys, a coach, a friend, and staying humble and grateful for all that life has to offer." "Working for SMCo was my first ‘real’ carpentry job. It didn't work out according to plan the first time. As life happens, and comes full circle, I've found myself back here at SMCo again. I feel that I'm supposed to be here, that I belong here. I value the service and responsibility of working for SMCo and helping SMCo grow towards the future.”
Justin washed ashore in the mid 90's from Cobleskill, NY having previously also lived and worked in Portland, OR. He's been building things ever since he was a kid and enjoys the sense of accomplishment that comes with hard work and dedication.
He likes challenging hobbies among which he includes triathlon, mountain bike races, and marriage. His successes in the third of these he attributes mostly to his wonderful wife Akeyah. Akeyah and Justin live in Vineyard Haven, where Justin is also a volunteer firefighter, though he is quick to point out he hopes never to come to your house in that capacity.
Peggy began working for SMCo as a carpenter in 1987, just out of college. She moved from job site to shop for a stint of building doors and cabinets, and then moved into the office where she continues to work today as a project manager for "small jobs," as well as production support for SMCo jobs. When she is away from this Island, Peggy spends time on a much smaller island off the coast of Maine.
John grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, where he spent most of his time on the baseball field. He moved to the Vineyard in 2010 and spent six years working in the grocery and distribution industries. At that point he thought it was time to learn a trade, and eagerly applied to SMCo to learn how to install PV systems. He loves the exciting challenges that present themselves on the roofs everyday.
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.
Greg Milne is a registered architect and has been involved 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 graduate degree from the Boston Architectural College and has worked in firms around New England specializing in residential design. He is a talented architectural rendering artist who is involved in all aspects of design and construction administration here and is a great contributor to the future of SMCo. 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 husband made the huge leap from one island to another and landed on Martha’s Vineyard! Siobhan joined us in 2003 and 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, a member of our Management Committee and chair of the Personnel Committee. She keeps herself challenged managing our finances and you name it-she is there for us always with a smile and a kind word. Outside of work she currently serves as President of the Tisbury School PTO and as a member of the Tisbury School Building Committee. She lives in Vineyard Haven with her husband Patrick and their three sons.
Ryan is a MVRHS graduate born and raised on the island.
Ceramics and running are major passions of Ryan's. He also knows his way around a kitchen, which he comes by honestly as his dad Jack is culinary arts instructor at the high school.
In Ryan's first week here he broke a window, had a wardrobe malfunction (nothing a little zip tape couldn't fix!) and, MOST importantly, endeared himself to the crew with his willingness to work, his eagerness to learn, and his great attitude. We are delighted to have him aboard!
Daughter of a community organizer, Abbie grew up in VA's Shenandoah Valley canvassing for whichever local initiative most needed a voice at the time. After graduating from the University of Mary Washington with a BA in Anthropology & Environmental Sustainability, Abbie took up her own torch to coach environmentally-minded students through their first political campaigns - shutting down campus coal plants, divesting from fossil fuels, revising university purchasing policies, etc. Martha’s Vineyard was only meant as stop on the crusade trail, but somewhere in between June and August of 2012, she fell in love with this little island and what its renewables could do in the rig of a wooden sailboat. Abbie now resides in West Tisbury with her boatbuilding partner Lyle and their dog Starling. Amidst South Mountain’s triple bottom line and community allegiance, this planet advocate feels right at home.
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 let 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 dad's tools along the way. He went on to study forestry, working in construction during the summers. After crabbing on a boat out of Kodiak Alaska, (for a captain who became a lifelong 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 cabinet maker. After 12 years working for that cabinet maker he discovered SMCo 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 SMCo. Now she lives in a little house with her sweetie of 17 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.
Ryan is originally from the West Coast: Berkeley, CA and Seattle, WA. After college, Ryan moved to Montana to help his father build log homes. After bumping around several jobs, Ryan found himself "production framing" in Montana and spent his free time hunting, fishing, and snowboarding. When the chance came to reunite with family on Martha's Vineyard and escape the long, cold Montana winters, Ryan jumped at the opportunity to head East. Ryan arrived on the island in December of 2016 and found work with South Mountain 3 weeks later. Summer came and he traded his parka and snow boots for board shorts and flip flops and has no plans of looking back.
For nearly 25 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 cabinet making. 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 has had means there is 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' early love of the outdoors 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 after college but an internship with the Rodale Institute fulfilled a desire to be an active participant and steward of the natural world. He chose to keep gardening as a passionate hobby and pursued a career in the trades by accepting a job with a timber frame company outside of Philadelphia. Chris returned home to the Finger Lakes region and soon began working with a small local building company run by some fellow ESF Alumni. During this time he met Elizabeth, whom he later asked to be his wife. Together they bought an old farmhouse with the grand intentions of fixing it up. They soon added two children to their existing family of three dogs and a cat. An opportunity to dismantle an old barn, repair it, and reconstruct it into a brew pub, became a catalyst for the creation of Revival Timberworks. Chris founded and operated this small timber frame and woodworking company until answering SMCo's "call for carpenters" in 2013. This was a great opportunity to contribute his talents and experiences with a company that shared his love of craft, his respect for the natural world, and his desire to always do better. With perseverance and much support, Chris, Elizabeth, their children, and most of their animals are beginning to find their place on this island. Chris hopes to combine his past experiences along with what he continues to learn in an effort to always build a healthier, more thoughtful home that contributes to the environment in which it is built.
Rachel was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, and after MVRHS earned a degree in Fashion Merchandising from Fisher College. She loved Boston, but the call of the island was too great to resist. Once back on the rock it was clear fashion merchandizing wasn't going to take her everywhere she wanted to go, so she turned to the construction trades. She and her three year old son Tatum live in Vineyard Haven in a modular project she did herself. They are both active at Vineyard Montessori, where he focusses on large motor, small motor, and cognitive development, and she helps out as a volunteer on the fund development and Truckin' MV committees.