As our next group of Customer-In-Residence participants prepare for their visit in a couple weeks, we had Dawn Klingensmith (Left, who participated with her fiance Jeff, far Right) to write a quick guest blog regarding her experience.
As a gift to my fiancé, Jeff, I signed us up for Thos. Moser’s Customer in Residence program with plans to build our dining room table together as couple. Jeff enjoys woodworking and is good at it. I, on the other hand, had never even built anything out of Popsicle sticks.
I am not the first novice to sign up for the program. But I think it’s fair to say that most participants have a passion for woodworking and experience using power tools. And most leave with a deeper passion and perhaps even plans to come back. I left with neither, but it was an enriching experience all the same.
Besides the cherry wood table we made, I left with something just as solid yet intangible. All the participants did. As the week progressed and everyone’s projects started coming together, we witnessed a shared commitment to excellence among Thos. Moser employees that you don’t find in most workplaces. At the signing ceremony, attended by all the cabinetmakers, each of us “graduates” had an opportunity to speak about our experience. One after another, all six of us talked about how impressed we were by the standard of excellence shared and upheld by each and every worker at Thos. Moser.
Knowing I’m a writer, instructor Dick Guite told me every piece of wood tells a story. I’m not sure I’ll ever share his love of wood or see poetry in its grain. But I will always remember the moment we bonded over a shared appreciation of artwork and the act of creating. If you own Thos. Moser furniture, then you know that the cabinetmakers sign their work. Dick told me the act of signing is a source of both pride and responsibility. As a writer whose byline is on most things I write, I knew what he was saying.
With their unwavering commitment to excellence, Dick and the other cabinetmakers helped me understand that to live is to build. And if you’re going to build something, build it to last. This is true of furniture, stories, relationships, reputations and even guest blog posts — whether your name is actually on it or not.
To view Dawn and Jeff's CIR ceremony speech, CLICK HERE.
Dawn also wrote an article for the Chicago Tribune about the Thos. Moser CIR program, to read that CLICK HERE.
We have a program at Thos. Moser called Customer-in-Residence (CIR), which takes place monthly from April through November each year. We just wrapped for May, and our David Moser was reminded of how inspiring it is to watch the professionals who take time from their busy schedules to travel to Maine and make furniture. Here's how the program has made an impact on his thinking:
"I’m always enthused to hear what they have to say at the end of their week because most times they speak about how “big” the experience was for them, which blows my mind because we are talking about people who’ve reached the stratosphere in their careers in finance or management, manufacturing and myriad other professions.
"What strikes me as so phenomenal about this is that we in the America are largely a culture divorced from the natural environment, as so many of us have stopped working with our hands. When you think about it, there are three materials that bind us to our roots: wood, clay and stone—these are the three elemental substances that have been used since the dawn of man, whether early earth dwellers were grinding them up to create something for survival or carving them into deities.
"We at Thos. Moser are hardwired to leave a legacy using one of those malleable materials, and there’s a halo effect for the cabinetmakers. They see someone who is successful, say, as a hedge fund professional and who could spend time anywhere in the world but chose to spend it making a piece of furniture with them. During the signing ceremony, we shut the shop down so that the sense of pride can be honored. This really means something to those participating in our CIR and to the cabinetmakers as well.
"It hit home to me how important the experiential aspect of what we are building is during an auction at the Maritime Museum a while back. We decided rather than simply giving the institution another chair to auction off, we would have people bid on the chance to come to the shop and make one. The opportunity received so much more attention than the chair would have because we tapped into people’s dreams."