“There is no better way to learn where we’re going as craftsmen than to look back at how we got here.”
–Justin Fink, Carpenter, Plainville, Conn.
At age 38, with a wife and young child at home, Justin Fink walked away from a career in publishing and into self-employment in the building industry. He started Fink & Son Carpentry and Woodworking, a remodeling company that found its niche working on historic homes in and around central Connecticut.
A year into remodeling full time, Justin has hit his stride doing the work he’s always loved to do. He has hired his first employee, has as many projects as his business can handle, and is embracing making a living as a carpenter. “I wake up every single morning excited to get to the job site, and when Friday comes around I’m looking forward to Monday when I can get back there,” he says.
Shifting careers is rarely an easy decision, but a career in building has been a long time coming for Justin—in many ways, it was years in the making. As an editor for Fine Homebuilding, Justin spent 16 years developing some of the most thorough how-to building content available, working alongside experienced and knowledgeable craftspeople in the trades. The relationships and projects he built both inspired and empowered him, and led him to the brink of self-employment several times over the years. Finally, setting aside comfort and fear, he plunged headlong into carpentry, tackling some of the most demanding work around—the preservation of historic and pre-war homes.
“I feel like there is a lost connection to the way we used to build houses, and I wanted to focus on that. I decided early on that I’m going to do careful work using really high-quality materials,”Justin says. Fortunately, he has found that clients who live in old houses tend to love and appreciate their homes in a way that’s suited to the diligent approach Justin prefers to take to construction. It’s important to him that he remain a hands-on carpenter; he only aspires to scale his business to make it sustainable and to keep him doing the kind of work that he enjoys doing most.
Hear Rob Yagid’s interview with Justin on the Keep Craft Alive Podcast.
—Rob Yagid, executive director, Keep Craft Alive
From Fine Homebuilding #301