A Brief History of Bench Dogs Inc.
Bench Dogs has its roots in the industrial and fine arts scene that occupied Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 90's. Husband and wife, Weber Roberts and Brooks Crane started Bench Dogs in their live/work loft in the Gretsch Building along the edge of the East River. As manufacturing space made way for residential apartments, Bench Dogs was forced out of their building and relocated to the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Soon there were Bench Puppies, and having grown up in New England, Weber and Brooks moved to Rockland, ME to raise their family. Bench Dogs' first shop in Maine was at 21 Winter St., in a building recently torn down to make way for the new home for the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. Weber and Brooks built a mixed-use industrial building on the other end of town, 711 Main St. and lived above their new shop. Living and working on the water was a return to Bench Dogs' origins and was a dream project, however, a dream that was quickly outgrown as both the business and the family expanded. The Bench Puppies moved to Hope, ME, while the business moved out to Washington, ME and into a much larger 6,000 S.F. facility. Bench Dogs has always combined old world skills and values with modern technology and sensibilities. This has allowed Bench Dogs to take on jobs of all sizes and perform them with equal care and professionalism. We look forward to every new project and hope to hear from you.
Weber attributes his interest in woodworking to his grandfather who was a sculptor, shipwright and welder. Although Weber never met his grandfather, he was inspired by his creativity and work ethic. Weber acquired skills working in several cabinet shops in California and New York before landing an apprenticeship with Moon Cabinets in Soho, where he worked under the guidance of a traditionally trained Japanese woodworker. The shop's main business was to create furniture for artists such as Donald Judd and Claes Oldenburg. Weber enjoys the challenge of creating and engineering each project. With over 25 years of woodworking experience, Weber brings a level of expertise to the business which only experience can provide. Weber also teaches machine skills for the nine month program at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, ME. Weber's latest venture is Washington CNC, LLC, a partnership with Marco Bonometti that brings computer aided design and fabrication into the cabinetshop.
Brooks grew up around construction, walking through the many phases of each house her father built for his construction company, Three Seasons Builders, in Burlington, VT. With a love of art, sculpture and architecture, and a not so useful degree in English, starting Bench Dogs seemed like the natural thing to do. Brooks designed many of their early projects and did the cabinet finishing for 10 years. Brooks finally gave up working to stay at home full-time to raise her and Weber's four children. Brooks continues to help with odd tasks: making logos, websites and picking up plans at Staples when she is at the grocery store. With the youngest child off to kindergarten in the fall of 2015, Brooks will be going back to school to begin a degree in Architecture at the University of Maine/Augusta.
Bench Dogs has been fortunate to have many wonderful employees over the years. Many of the younger ones have gone on to form their own companies or return to school for art and design or furniture making. The current team consists of...
Chris Wellman -Shop Manager/Lead Cabinetmaker
Chris realized he had a talent and passion for woodworking while taking a woodshop class in high school. After graduating, Chris was recruited by a local cabinet maker and worked as an apprentice where he learned traditional woodworking techniques. Several years later he was employed by another construction company as head cabinet maker where he designed and built high-end kitchens and furniture. In 2007 Chris ventured out on his own, starting South Hope Cabinetry where he continued to design and build custom woodwork. In 2010 the company name was changed to Buzzell Hill Woodworking & Design. Chris came to Bench Dogs over two years ago and is the backbone of the shop.
Chris Roy -Cabinet Maker
Chris is a graduate of the Center for Furniture Craftmanships' nine month furniture design/build program. He has been with Bench Dogs for two years. In that time he has proven to be the most steadfast and hardworking employee Bench Dogs has ever had.
Phil Bjork -Finisher
Phil has been finishing cabinets since before he can remember. His father owned a high-end cabinet shop in New Jersey and he worked along side his dad from an early age. Phil is the most recent member of the Bench Dogs crew and brings a wealth of finishing experience to the process.
Henry Laurita -Apprentice
Henry, like everyone in the shop, feels most at home working with his hands. He is learning the skills to become a cabinetmaker. At the moment he is learning the finer points of sanding.......and sanding.