Trio of WCA Affiliates Receive 40 Under 40 Honors

Three members of the wood products industry with close ties to the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America were among those honored in this year’s 40 Under 40 awards program presented by Woodworking Network.

They include:

The WCA joins in celebrating the achievements of these and the other deserving members of Woodworking Network’s 40 Under 40 class of 2021.

The 2021 honorees will be celebrated at Woodworking Network’s Leadership Reception on July 19 during the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas. They will be profiled in the October 2021 issue of FDMC magazine.

Learn more.




NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa – Honorees of the 2021 Wood Industry 40 Under 40 have been announced by Woodworking Network. This year marks the sixth annual awarding of the 40 Under 40, which celebrates the next generation of industry professionals who are making an impact on wood products manufacturing in North America.

Those selected have been recognized by their peers for their achievements and innovations in the categories of: productivity, profitability, social good, ingenuity, peer inspiration, product development, organizational leadership, or another area. A total of 151 submissions were received and evaluated by a team of Woodworking Network editors.

“It’s always hard to narrow down the list to 40 honorees and 2021’s entries were no exception.  Among the entrants are highly successful entrepreneurs, marketing specialists, extraordinary woodworkers, educators and almost-rookie team members,” said Harry Urban, FDMC publisher. “While dealing with COVID personally and professionally, this year’s nominees have successfully navigated supply chain volatility, led and motivated team members and contributed to their communities.  Cheers for the Class of 2021!”

“It is our distinct pleasure to again recognize some of the best and brightest contributors to wood products manufacturing in North America with our sixth annual class of 40 Under 40 honorees. This year’s inductees join the 200 alums from prior years, forming a group of enterprising individuals destined to advance our industry to meet the everchanging challenges of the future,” said Tim Fixmer, CEO of CCI Media, the parent of Woodworking Network.

“Please join us in congratulating each of them and celebrating their commitment to excellence. We also hope that many of you will take the opportunity to meet some of this stellar group at the Executive Briefing Conference in September at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs,” he added.

This year marks Woodworking Network’s sixth annual awarding of the 40 Under 40, which celebrates industry professionals who are making an impact at their jobs, in the community, and on the North American wood products manufacturing industry. Through innovation, motivation or inspiration, honorees are contributing in the areas of productivity, profitability, social good (locally or globally), ingenuity, innovation, peer inspiration, product development, organizational leadership, or another facet.

Entries were solicited in print, email and online at, with a total of 151 nominations submitted in 2021. The candidates were judged by a team of editors, and the votes tallied.

The 2021 honorees will be profiled on and in the October issue of FDMC magazine. They will also be recognized at industry events including the Leadership Reception, July 19, the day prior to the AWFS Fair, and a reception at the Executive Briefing Conference, Sept. 8-10, at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado; 2021 honorees also will receive a complimentary registration to EBC.

Hocking College Cabinetmaking and Architectural Millwork Program to Debut this Fall

By Tracey A. Maine

Hocking College of Hocking, OH, has tabbed Chris Hedges to serve as program manager of the Cabinetmaking and Architectural Millwork program scheduled to launch this fall. The program is an EDUcation member of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America. Hedges recently completed training to become a WCA accredited skill evaluator.

Originally from Circleville, OH, Hedges grew up in a home that showcased an assortment of antiques — all of which were hand-crafted by his ancestors. 

Chris Hedges, program manager of Hocking College’s new Cabinetmaking and Architectural Millwork program.

After high school, Hedges went on to earn both a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in sociology from Ohio University. During his second year as a graduate student, Hedges got an opportunity to teach at OU’s Zanesville campus and remained there for four years. 

Shortly before his daughter Aedan was born, Hedges was inspired to create a keepsake piece of furniture for her to pass down to her children and grandchildren one day. The result was a Craftsman-style dresser that ignited his passion for woodworking.  

The experience motivated Hedges to enroll in the University of Rio Grande’s Fine Woodworking program. There, he refined his talent for using both traditional and contemporary woodworking techniques. His efforts led him to win multiple awards at the 2007 Fresh Wood Student Design Competition at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas.

In 2008, Hedges relocated to Knoxville, TN. There, he set up a cabinet and furniture making shop in the basement of his home. It eventually evolved into a fully operational furniture studio.

In 2014 he returned to Athens, OH. Since then, he’s been a contributing writer for Woodcraft Magazine and opened Aedan Works in Nelsonville, OH. Aedan Works is an independently run furniture store that specializes in bench-crafted, custom design cabinets and furniture.

Although this will be his first experience being a program manager, Hedges has been teaching woodworking classes in one form or another for the past decade.

“Attention to detail, creativity, a willingness to learn and the ability to self-determine” are the qualities Hedges says will allow students to be successful in his classes. He added that prospective students would work with a range of industry-standard machinery like table saws, shapers and moulders, and learn how to work with traditional hand tools such as saws and hand planes.

Students can either earn industry-recognized certificates through a leisure learning pathway or work toward a two-year degree with the possibility of earning a third-year internship/artist-in-residency position.

Overall, Hedges hopes his program will “establish Hocking College as a nationally recognized educational program with a mission that focuses on training both the mind and the hand.”

According to Hocking College’s Dean of Community Outreach and Workforce Development, Sean Terrell, classes for the Cabinetmaking and Architectural Millwork program are scheduled to begin in Autumn 2021. Terrell said that students can begin enrolling in the program once it receives HLC approval. He noted that this process could be completed as early as February 2021.

For more information on Hocking College’s Cabinetmaking and Architectural Millwork program, contact Program Manager Chris Hedges at


Join the Conversation on the WCA Members Forum

Start or join a conversation on the new WCA EDU Members Forum.

The forum is accessible to all WCA EDUcation and MANufacturing members in good standing.

This is your opportunity to share ideas with or seek advice from your peers throughout North America.

For example:

  • What’s the best online sharing platform for teaching students woodworking online?
  • Who has developed new curricula for instructing and training programs that they would be willing to share?
  • How do you integrate independent learning into your program for more advanced students?

Got questions? Get answers from fellow woodworking instructors.

Start or join the conversation.





Newspaper: ‘Students Learn Real World Skills’ in RCHS Woodshop

The Morris Herald recently published a feature on the Reed-Custer High School (RCHS) woodworking program in Braidwood, IL.

The article highlights instructor Mark Smith’s commitment to teaching students not only how to work wood, but the business of woodworking as well.

The article notes, “(S)tudents learn business acumen, industry standards and how to network with professionals, right alongside carpentry, engineering, architectural design and how to use tools and machinery. Businesses court them before they graduate.”

RCHS is an EDUcation member of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America and Smith is a member of WCA’s education committee. Pathways ran an article on Smith last summer emphasizing the many ways he publicizes his program and how it has helped him develop industry partnerships.

Read the Morris Herald’s article about the RCHS woodworking program.