Owner & General Contractor; Certified Passive House Consultant
Kent Hicks came to Western Massachusetts from the Oklahoma Panhandle in 1980 to study with acclaimed British furniture-maker, David Powell. After mastering the art of fine furniture making, he began building and renovating residential and commercial properties with the same commitment to craftsmanship. Today, his portfolio includes hundreds of beautiful, energy efficient new and renovated homes, as well as authentic historic restorations.
Kent’s commitment to mitigating climate change and passion to learn the best practices in building science have made him an innovative leader in the construction of high-performance buildings. From the Energy Crafted houses of the 1990’s to today’s Deep Energy Retrofits and Zero Net Energy buildings, Kent has garnered decades of technical expertise and a thorough understanding of emerging challenges, such as moisture management, superior indoor air quality, material toxicity and life cycle assessment of product and process.
Kent’s search for the most responsible way to build led him to Passivhaus design, a standard that combines rigorous energy efficiency specifications with comfort and precision engineering quality.
Lynn is co-owner of East Branch Studio and assists with human resources, public relations and management decisions. Lynn is passionate about reducing individual carbon footprints. She is grateful to be living on the East Branch of the healthy Westfield River.
Denise has 30 years of experience as a business manager/comptroller. In recent years, she has found her niche working at smaller companies that display integrity and a strong positive direction, and we are glad she did. Denise brings extensive knowledge of bookkeeping and many other talents to our expanding business. She and her husband recently purchased a second home in Florida where they plan to spend the winter months playing golf and sipping drinks by the water.
After many years as an independent contractor, Tim joined East Branch Studio to be part of a team committed to climate action within the building industry. As a builder, the challenge of balancing structural needs, carbon smart principles and aesthetic virtue provide the opportunities for collaboration in which he thrives. Tim is quick to laugh, slow to speak, and approaches building with an equal sense of industry and artistry.
Rachel Keenan Roberts
Rachel is passionate about designing for a built environment that addresses issues of climate change, social justice, and community resilience. She is an avid walker, cyclist, storyteller, ruminator, and a perpetual student of life. She returned to her native Massachusetts after the better part of a decade living on the West and South coasts to study architecture at UMass Amherst and The Berlin Technische Universität. Rachel worked with several architecture, design/build, and development firms, and a couple of organic farms in Eastern and Western MA, before coming on board bringing her Architect’s and Construction Supervisor’s licenses. She is excited to be part of a team that appreciates the role designers and builders play in responding to some of the greatest challenges facing our world.
OPERATIONS MANAGER, DESIGN & MARKETING
Sarah is a Massachusetts native and comes to the company after living in California and Brooklyn for over two decades. She has extensive project and office management experience, enriched by a decade being an Expressive Arts/Marriage and Family Therapist, and being a former art installer at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. More recently, she has a Masters in Interior Architecture from Pratt Institute and appreciates using her diverse experiences to contribute to design and construction with the long term health of the planet and its inhabitants, front and center.
Ben finds purpose and joy in working for a more just and sustainable world. Pursuing these passions, he has lived and worked at a Catholic Worker house in St. Louis, managed an internship program and permaculture project in coastal Ecuador, and studied sustainable construction at the Endeavour Centre in Ontario, Canada. He looks forward to a time when it will be normal for buildings to sequester more carbon than they emit.
DESIGNER, PROJECT MANAGER & CARPENTER
Ben gained the base of his carpentry experience in the Boston area after receiving a Master’s in Architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology. He enjoys the collaboration, problem solving and creativity that goes into building a beautiful, high-performance house. Outside of building/making things he enjoys biking, basketball and staying active.
PROJECT ASSISTANT & DESIGNER
Adam grew up in Portland, Maine. His interest in green building started with a single design class at his local community college in 2015, and moved to Massachusetts in 2018 and enrolled in the construction technology program at UMass Amherst. When he graduates, he aspires to design and build buildings to the highest performance standards.
BOOKKEEPER & GRAPHIC DESIGN
Véronique has 29 years of experience as an administrative and executive assistant in the Netherlands and the US. When she is not at the East Branch Studio office keeping the books, she works with her clients on social media and graphic design, and enjoys working with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Véronique is also a mosaic artist and dabbles in figurative drawing and watercolor painting. Her passion is traveling and languages.
ASSISTANT PROJECT MANAGER
Adam comes from the heavy civil and infrastructure construction industry with a degree in Buildings and Construction Technologies from UMass Amherst. He has always had a passion for sustainable and high performance design that compliments nature. He is looking forward to the constant challenge of balancing performance with sustainability.
ASSISTANT PROJECT MANAGER
Emily is a graduate of UMass Amherst with a degree in Building and Construction Technology. As a native to Western Massachusetts, she feels obligated and honored to be part of the future of sustainable building and is interested in exploring innovative design approaches that can be melded with fine craftsmanship. In her free time she enjoys restoring furniture, rummaging through antique shops and immersing herself in nature.
SHOP MANAGER, WOODWORKER/CARPENTER
Tom has been building fine furniture for 25 years— and acoustic guitars for 15 years. His interests extend to post and beam structures and modest but interesting housing. As a member of the East Branch Studio team, Tom enjoys the process of combining historical design details with an efficient house that is comfortable for its occupants.
While Ryan has been involved in the building process from frame to finish, his expertise is in finish carpentry and kitchen work. Ryan is glad to be part of a team that is committed to lowering the carbon footprint and providing energy-efficient homes. He is particularly interested in using reclaimed materials for finish work—bringing old and new together.
Chris got his start in carpentry working for a custom framing company out of the Berkshires of Massachusetts. This also cultivated his interest of furniture making and woodworking which he does with his spare time when he’s not hiking, playing music, or reading. He wishes to work towards a future that preserves the natural world. Progress with sustainability is attainable.
Kyle is a third generation tradesman with a deep interest in the intersection of design and energy systems. He has experience as a sawyer, restoration woodworker, and in general carpentry and looks forward to expanding his knowledge of high performance building systems. He enjoys working with local materials and a team that takes a holistic approach to the building process.
Adrian was born in Eastern Massachusetts and studied sustainable agriculture and ecology at UMass Amherst. He has worked as a chef, baker, farmer, educator, gardener, trail builder, electrician, and carpenter. He is passionate about craft, and has spent the last few years taking classes in the building trades, and recently completed a timber framing residency at The Heartwood School. He is excited to join a talented crew that is passionate about making homes with intention, and is focused on climate change resiliency.
ENTRY LEVEL CARPENTER
Western Massachusetts native and avid hiker, Max is interested in the impact we have on our natural surroundings, and ways we can lower our carbon footprint as builders. He is excited to grow his carpentry skills and knowledge of sustainable building practices working for company that has a passion for building beautiful high performance homes.
ENTRY LEVEL CARPENTER
Originally from the coast of Maine but now a longtime resident of Massachusetts, Chris comes to the building world after having spent time as an organic farmer, environmental advocate, and local food processor. He is fascinated by how buildings function and is particularly interested in how a building’s materials and performance data can inform methods for improving its climate impact and comfort. He is excited to be part of a team dedicated to harnessing the potential of the built environment to reduce human impact. When not at work, Chris can be found exploring the woods, experimenting in the kitchen, or puttering in the garden.
ENTRY LEVEL CARPENTER
Maria, born and raised in Northern Vermont, has always found the work of Mother Nature breathtaking. When she saw that East Branch Studio was hiring entry level carpenters, she knew right away that is was going to be a good fit. Combing the blue collar work life with a sense of caring for our planet was exactly the opportunities that Maria wanted to snatch up and start a serious career with. Currently, she is learning as much as she can from those more skilled and experienced than her, hoping one day she’ll get to be the one doing the teaching.