Tim Chauvin named Agricultural Pioneer for 2009
Nacogdoches has been blessed by the success of many pioneers.
Some created enterprises by using the special bounty of East Texas – forests full of tall, beautiful trees. One of those innovative entrepreneurs is Tim Chauvin.
Chauvin, owner of Red Suspenders Timber Frames, will receive the Pete Smith Agricultural Pioneer Award at the eighth annual Nacogdoches County Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet Monday, April 6 at the Fredonia.
Chauvin and his team of craftsmen practice the ancient art of timber framing – using a mix of traditional and high-tech techniques to create unique homes, churches and commercial buildings.
“I have known Tim since he moved his business to Nacogdoches in 1987,” said Texas Forest Service District Forester John Boyette. “Tim has one of the most unusual and innovative companies that I know.”
Chauvin explains the art and integrity of timber framing.
“In a conventionally built home, the material that does the work is hidden and not expressed in the final design,” he said. “In timber framing, the structure is exposed for all to see. It’s honest in form and expression. You know exactly what is holding the roof up because you can see it.”
Chauvin’s architectural designs are produced using computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs. His thin kerf band sawmill greatly reduces wood waste and his dry kiln is “state of the art, with automatic computer controls,” Boyette said. “Tim produces most of his materials from timber grown and purchased right here in East Texas, much of it in Nacogdoches County.”
Red Suspenders produces about a dozen custom projects a year, many of them high-end homes located all across Texas and the U.S.
In 1983 Tim and his wife Wynter designed and built their own timber-framed house in East Texas. The home was raised the old-fashioned way, by a large gathering of friends on a crisp October day. Word of this unusual home spread, and within weeks the Chauvins were asked to build another. Red Suspenders Timber Frames was off and running.
“By 1987 the company had grown, and it was apparent that we needed to look for a new place to live and work,” Chauvin said. “After searching all of Texas, looking at all factors ranging from material supplies to quality-of-life issues, we settled on Nacogdoches as our new home. We purchased 32 acres of gently-rolling ranch land and built a new shop. We raised the frame in 1987, and this building now houses our Timber Shop and Design Studio. In the years since, we have been joined by more people, capabilities have increased, the facility has grown and there are plans for further expansion. It is a never-ending process of growth and renewal.”
The family’s Nacogdoches timber frame home was cut and raised with the help of members of the Timber Framers Guild in 1994.
Chauvin explains that the company’s unusual name refers to a pair of gaudy red suspenders that Wynter bought for him as he lost weight during his first summer as he worked on their first home. His reduced waist called for some method of keeping his now too-large pants from “going to half mast” as he bent over. He hated belts as they invariably managed to snag the timbers on which he was working. The suspenders arrived, decorum returned, and the company name was born.
“Oddly enough the Red Suspenders have taken on a new meaning,” Chauvin said. “Much as a colored belt signifies the skill level of a martial artist, so do Red Suspenders here. Once a new staffer reaches the skill level equivalent of a journeyman in years past, a pair of company Red Suspenders is given to that individual. It is a happy day when a new pair of Red Suspenders is donned.”
In 2001 Chauvin traveled to China, where he was immediately attracted to the ancient timber frame structures. A second trip in 2003 deepened his interest in the history and craft of Chinese timber framing. Chauvin and his family lived in China from February to August of 2007. During that time he visited and photographed many historic timber frame structures, such as the Temple of Heaven and the numerous structures of the Forbidden City.
Chauvin was born in New England and educated in the Midwest. He is also a well-traveled folk musician. In 2006, he received a nomination for Best Song of the Year in the Traditional Folk Song category for the Annual Just Plain Folks Music Award.
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The Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet kicks off Monday, April 6, at the Fredonia, with exhibits ready to view at 6 p.m. The program starts with dinner at 7 p.m. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples will be the keynote speaker.
Up to five $500 scholarships will be awarded to students studying or intending to study agriculture, forestry or environmental science at SFA. Businesses and individuals are encouraged to help provide funds for these scholarships. Contact the Chamber for details.
The banquet is a cooperative effort of local agencies interested in promoting and honoring agriculture in Nacogdoches County. Local agencies include Nacogdoches County Farm Bureau, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Forest Service, Stephen F. Austin State University - Agriculture Department and Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO).
At the banquet, the Eddie Melasky Family will receive the Farm Family of the Year Award, sponsored by Tipton Ford. Red Suspenders Timber Frames will receive the Pete Smith Agricultural Pioneer Award, sponsored by Heritage Land Bank. John Boyette will receive the Agriculture Educator of the Year award, sponsored by Citizens 1st Bank.
View exhibits at 6 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. Banquet tickets are $22 each or $200 per table of eight and are available now at the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, 2516 North Street. Businesses are welcome to sponsor tables to provide complimentary admission for youth ag groups. Call the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, 560-5533 regarding ticket and table reservations, or download a reservation form from www.nacogdoches.org.
In conjunction with the promoting agriculture, an Ag Tour is scheduled for Friday, Apr. 3. The tour runs from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Complimentary breakfast and transportation will be provided for the tour attendees and lunch is provided by AgriLand Farm Credit Services and Lone Star Equipment. Contact Texas AgriLife Extension Service, 560-7711, for more information.