HAMILTON, N.Y. — Cazenovia native Darren Zierbel is bringing his experience as a teacher and his love of design to Curtis Lumber in Hamilton. He’s also using second chances from health problems to continue the work he loves, work found in the quality of his kitchen design.
“We can make any design given my experience. Anything to bring their project from rough to finished stages, from conception to completion,” Zierbel said.
Curtis Lumber is located at 15 Eaton St. in Hamilton. Their number is 315-824-2233.
The business used to be Webb and Sons. Curtis Lumber is a sixth-generation business that has expanded to Hamilton. They now have approximately 24 stores ranging from eastern New York and Vermont.
Zierbel is using his experience in woodworking and teaching to build the store’s post-pandemic business. A Cazenovia High School graduate, he had his first kitchen certification in wood mode in 1986 and owned a cabinetry business for 15 years. He taught interior design at Cazenovia College for 11 years, and also coached rowing.
He has brought his classroom approach to his clientele.
“Our first step is to get acquainted with our customers, and see what they want, and how we might present it to them,” he said. “I want to see what they like before I present them with building and remodeling options. I want to see what works for them.”
The process begins with an interview to find what dimensions and resources his clients have available. “Any plans are always subject to their space, for any construction or remodeling. This includes wall, windows, or doors. We make the plan according to what space they have available.”
The planning process is helped by advanced computer imaging employed by Zierbel and his staff.
“We put together a quite extravagant, 3D image that is available to those we consult,” Zierbel said. “You can catch the ambiance of any direction, any angle full visualization, and answer any questions. You can even open up drawers and doors in the design preview before making a decision.”
The shop design also allows for any concerns and scope customers may consider during the planning stage.
“Our designs address as many areas as possible and helps plan, considering the customer’s circumstances,” Zierbel said. “We carry several different product lines, from entry-level to high-end. We can accommodate any budget.”
Zierbel has added his teaching experience to his approach.
“I ran an interior design specialty that included kitchen modeling, millwork with windows and doors, all the architectural residential design,” he said. “I also taught furniture design. I had my students design and build furniture right on campus grounds.”
Zierbel said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the furniture and design business.
“The pandemic kept people in their homes,” he said. “The surge in interest in remodeling was experienced while people were stuck inside for an extended time. In January of this year, it led to an influx of business but it’s starting to level out.”
After the pandemic, Zierbel rediscovered his passion for woodworking and design. “I had resigned from coaching teaching before [the] pandemic. I didn’t want to be a grumpy old guy hanging around campus,” he said.
Zierbel has lived a comeback of his own. In 2013, at 46, he suffered a stroke. “I thought I was too young to have a stroke. I learned you can have one at any age,” he said. “Those were interesting times. I could not speak yet I managed to teach the class. I didn’t have any confidence at first about teaching, but now that’s been restored.”