by Don Koppin
For over a decade, my woodworking career was focused on training mentally challenged adults at A.R.C. Industries, to produce quality cedar patio furniture and refinish antiques – a very successful program that gave pride and satisfaction to my protégés. I also designed & made unique traditional wooden toys which were exhibited & sold at various Art Shows far and wide.
Eventually, my woodworking career followed a different path: working for a local contractor on construction projects, specializing in custom trim & finish work, then as a partner with another local craftsman, creating custom cabinetry and a variety of residential and commercial renovation work. During this time, an exciting artistic opportunity was given to me when our friend, musician Rob McConnell, received the Toronto Arts Award and commissioned me to create a custom historic architectural collage. The work was presented at The Art Gallery of Ontario & I was awarded the Protégé Honours Award from the Arts Foundation of Greater Toronto.
One of the most memorable projects from that time was an exciting restoration of a tired landmark building that once housed the local jail, where a new full-stage live theatre was created – The Bancroft Village Playhouse. Just days after the project’s completion, this stylish new space was the setting for my own fun, original wedding onstage & an elegant reception in the beautifully restored lobby!
Soon, I became an independent general contractor, and have been owner and president of Don Koppin General Contractor for more than 15 years. I have built a great team of talented, dedicated crew members and subcontractors over the years and completed many, many satisfying and challenging projects, both locally and out of town. Some of these include: the major reconstruction of a local law office; the restoration of a century farmhouse from foundation to roof & the renovation of a circa 1850 carriage house, both in Prince Edward County; the complete transformation of a small Craftsman-style bungalow; an environmentally-friendly timber-frame/ eco-log home; many new and renovated waterfront homes and cottages, some of them customized “kit” builds. One of my favourite projects was the recent restoration and expansion of the historic Bancroft Train Station – both as Project Manager and as a volunteer for this amazing community-powered initative. The new energy-efficient building has now become an important downtown hub of activity, housing the Regional Tourism Board, Chamber of Commerce and the world-renowned Bancroft Mineral Museum.
As Past President of the Haliburton County Homebuilders Association and as a member of the Renovators Council of the OHBA, I take advantage of the many opportunities to increase my industry knowledge, skills & resources, particularly about healthy, eco-friendly products, materials and methods. Most recently, I purchased a Thermal Imaging Camera to better help my clients with their energy loss issues, and am currently taking a second training session so I can maximize its use. I am a member of the local Lions Club and was the founding member of the Bancroft Sustainable Committee, a group that helped in the planning for the future sustainability of our naturally beautiful community. In 2010, I was elected a Municipal Councillor in the Town of Bancroft & proudly served one term, helping to make positive changes in our community. I am proud to be an ongoing participant in and ardent supporter of local events & initiatives, artists and entrepreneurs.