Keep Craft Alive: Caleb Johnson, Architect and Builder
Putting people first plays a big part in this business owner's ability to continually produce homes of the highest level of craftsmanship.
“There is a career here. I’m going to treat it like a career. I’m going to make it an easy choice for you. I’m going to make it an environment where people are respected.”
– Caleb Johnson, Architect and Builder, Portland, Maine
Through his work leading Caleb Johnson Studio and the construction firm Woodhull of Maine, Caleb Johnson and his team are crafting some of the most beautiful buildings in coastal New England. As an architect and builder, he’s drawn to real, core-construction materials—wood, glass, concrete, stone—put together in ways that acknowledge the skill and the creativity of the people who work with him. Homes built this way, Caleb believes, create an appetite in the market for exceptional work and drive the demand for highly experienced and committed designers, carpenters, cabinetmakers, and tradespeople.
“The buildings are challenging to put together and therefore rewarding,” Caleb says of his team’s process and portfolio of work. “Craft is important. Art is important. Craftsmanship and the dedicated use of our time to realize a creative vision is valued by us all.” It’s the very reason his work is in high demand and why it gets replicated by those who see it and are inspired by it.
Just as impressive as the thoughtfulness put into his homes is the culture Caleb has established to recruit and retain his team, now approximately 30 members strong. All employees receive six weeks of paid vacation time, a full suite of health benefits, and a retirement plan, and work four 10-hour days per week to provide ample time for family and creative freedom.
“This is a career. You’re not labor. This is a valuable thing you’re doing,” he says of the HR policies and the core values that flow through the design offices and workshops of his business and manifest themselves in the homes of his clients.
It’s a powerful and deeply respectful company structure—more unique in the construction industry than it should be—that drives Caleb’s business and the level of craftsmanship in his region forward.
—Rob Yagid, Executive Director, Keep Craft Alive
From Fine Homebuilding #288