Connecting People to Place, Middlebury Grads Return to VT to Start Woodworking Business
By Christine McGowan, Vermont Forest Industry Network
When three friends at Middlebury College couldn’t find the perfect gift for their boss, they decided to make something special. Nathaniel Klein, Jacob Freedman, and Alex Gemme wanted to thank their supervisor at the Middlebury Snow Bowl for helping them establish a scholarship program. “We had such a great experience coaching skiing and wanted to give her something that was connected to the Snow Bowl,” said Gemme. “We had this idea of carving a model of the ski hill out of wood.”
And so, they did.
Freedman, a geography major, figured out how to map the ski area using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. From there, the trio worked out how to send the digital mapping file to a CNC router that would carve a model from wood. Klein, who grew up in his grandfather’s woodshop, put the finishing touches on the model, hand sanding and rubbing in linseed oil to bring out the grain of the wood. It was an instant hit.
“Everyone kept telling us we had to sell them,” said Gemme. “We didn’t set out to start a business; it was actually an accident.”
Still undergrad students at Middlebury College at the time, they registered their company in the spring of 2021 and Treeline Terrains was officially in business.
Support from entrepreneurial, wood products communities.
As biology, chemistry, and geography majors, they realized they would need to brush up on their business skills to really give Treeline Terrains a go. Senior year, they enrolled in Middlebury Entrepreneurs, a winter term course taught by the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies for students who want to start their own business.