NORTH ADAMS, Mass. —The Cruckfather, LLC of Shelburne was selected by a panel of judges on Wednesday during the 2022 Mohawk Trail Entrepreneur Challenge (MTEC) pitch event at Foolhardy Hill in Charlemont, winning a $25,000 Lever Innovation Grant for their innovative timber frame construction business model.
The Cruckfather and three other wood-based businesses from the Mohawk Trail region pitched their ideas at the MTEC, the culmination of Lever’s startup acceleration program that helped each refine their business plans and work with mentors. Hall Tavern Farm of Charlemont was declared the runner-up.
This is Lever’s second MTEC event; Foolhardy Hill’s owners, Katie and Patrick Banks, won the first competition in 2021, and have gone on to operate a highly sought-after private campground space in Charlemont.
Designed with a focus on sustainability and job creation in the Mohawk Trail region, the MTEC is supported by a $60,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). The MTEC aims to maximize regional economic impact through businesses that can attract revenue from areas outside the Mohawk Trail region, create new jobs, and attract financing from multiple sources.
“I can’t imagine a better place to hold this Challenge than Foolhardy Hill, who took what they learned during the first MTEC and used it to build an incredible business that is drawing people to the Mohawk Trail region and creating long-lasting affinity for the area,” said Jeffrey Thomas, Lever’s Executive Director. “I have no doubt that every finalist in today’s Challenge will do the same. This is why we do the work we do: To help business owners create new opportunities in the region and contribute to a cycle of economic development that only gets stronger as new people take part.”
Lever worked with the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership (MTWP) on both Challenge programs and reviewed applicants from the MTWP’s member towns. MTWP is a multi-community consortium focused on conserving forests and supporting sustainable management as a way to advance economic development in rural communities along the Vermont and New York borders. The program provides funding to assist towns in the Commonwealth’s most rural and forested region to plan for the care of forests in the face of climate change, prepare forest offset projects, and improve nature-based tourism by improving trail networks, infrastructure, and educational exhibits.
About the MTEC Finalists
The Cruckfather, LLC, Shelburne
The Cruckfatheruses the old New England construction tradition to create timber-framed structures of all shapes and sizes. The Cruckfather’s owner, Alan Spooner, aims to branch out into small-scale manufacturing, creating small-scale timber frames and structures on-site in Charlemont in addition to its on-location construction services.
Larkitecture, North Adams
Larkitecture is planning to address a major issue many people have with camping: uncomfortable sleep. The company plans to build and sell a “teardrop”-style camping trailer (a pod design with a retro feel) that is comfortable for overnight stays, no matter where it’s parked. Their design will feature locally harvested wood products.
Hall Tavern Farm, Charlemont
Hall Tavern Farm is the oldest privately owned tree farm in Massachusetts. Its 350 acres, used as a farm since the 1920s, have been conserved through a state Agricultural Preservation Restriction, and it also offers custom sawing and milling services. Hall Tavern’s team is planning to develop an on-site wood processing and forest education center that would serve as an incubator and equipment share for other wood-based businesses.
Coopers Wood Products, North Adams
Coopers Wood Products creates custom wood signs, mantles, beer taps, cabinets and more, frequently using reclaimed barn wood for its products. Coopers also produces large-volume wood items for other artists. Coopers’ goal is to increase the amount of reclaimed wood used in its projects.