CSTM Home Improvements in the NEWS
Carpenter Specializes In Work For Disabled
He Lost Hearing At Age Of Three
By T.A. Crerand
LORDS VALLEY - Kenneth Boyd, owner of CSTM Home Improvements, Inc. in Lords Valley, is an experienced and skilled professional who specializes in home improvements for the disabled and aging.
Kenneth, who is deaf, explained in an interview Sunday that he realized there was a particular need in communities when elderly customers and individuals in wheelchairs called him for construction projects. He said he then directed his carpentry talents to a "remodeling and renovations specialist for the disabled and aging."
Kenneth described the synonym CSTM in his business name as standing for "Carpentry Specialist To Modifications." His wife, Janice, pointed out that he also gives consideration to energy efficiency and protecting the environment in his work.
Janice handles the administrative portion of the business working with sales and proposals and sometimes makes site visits to assist her husband, including signing for customer communication, if needed. This busy couple has four children ranging in age from six to 13.
When not together on a job site, the two communicate by text messaging on a T-Mobile Sidekick phone, a tool that serves as a cellular phone, camera, and web browser. Although Kenneth is adept at reading lips, he plans to soon purchase a videophone for increased efficiency in communication.
This skilled and respected carpenter is also an exceptional example and mentor for others since he works at his craft with a communication impairment. Kenneth lost his hearing at three-and-a-half years of age due to meningitis.
Kenneth explained that after graduating from Midland Park High School, a mainstream hearing and deaf school, he studied at New Jersey's Bergen County Technical School and pursued his trade in woodworking. He then attended the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which is affiliated with the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, and the first and largest technological college in the world for deaf or hard of hearing students studying for a chosen career.
After first working for a friend, Kenneth decided 15 years ago to form his own business. Being hearing impaired and sometimes discriminated against, he felt compelled to start his own business and show others how to transform "a disability into an ability."
Janice said, "He wanted to show other deaf that it can be done," and added with obvious pride, "He's exceptional with his hands."
Kenneth said he enjoys working with his hands and takes on projects that also include kitchens with accessible cabinetry, flooring, and making bathrooms and showers handicapped accessible with safety features.
Kenneth likes to help people, which is what prompted him to specialize in modification projects for people with special needs.
This ambitious young man works throughout the tri-state area, but on the day of this interview, he was right here in Pike County, at the home of Neal Golden, who moved into the Hemlock Farms private community on Route 739 three months ago. This project, already underway, included renovating the kitchen and installing new flooring.
Kenneth explained he also believes in continuing education throughout careers and keeping up with new and innovative designs and techniques in construction. For big jobs, though, he consults with an architect.
Contact CSTM at 570-775-6245 or log on to their website www.cstmhomeimprovements.com currently under construction.
‘Extreme Makeover’ Features Handicapped Family, Contractor
By T.A. Crerand
LORDS VALLEY - Local contractor Kenneth Boyd had the unique experience of working as a volunteer with ABC television's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" reality program when a high-tech home was built in May for the Llanes family in Bergenfield, N.J.
An estimated $100,000 in technology was installed in the home to improve the quality of life of family members who are either blind or deaf.
Kenneth explained that the Llanes are natives of the Philippines. He heard about them being selected for a makeover from his friends and construction suppliers in New Jersey.
His wife Janice said, "Who better to represent the cause than a person like this?" she said while admirably looking at Kenneth. She called to inquire if they needed a deaf carpenter and "They called back immediately!"
Janice explained that the ABC production crew set up a separate tent for Kenneth's use to build a bed for the family's seeing-eye dog, and custom desk for a deaf child.
Kenneth worked from May 4 to 11 with the Extreme Makeover design team, particularly with Paul DiMeo, known as the carpenter with attitude. "It was an awesome time to be on the show and be part of something so great," Kenneth said, adding, "to know you made a difference helping someone else with the same disability to make life better for him [Zeb, the 16 year old deaf son], too."
Academy Award-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin was hired by the production team as a guest host for this show. Kenneth spoke with her onsite and said to the Pike County Dispatch, "Matlin said the family was not disabled, the house was disabled. She was right. So we helped the house to be ABLE for the family."
A computer installed in the house even has voice recognition, which it converts to sign language, Janice said.
The Pinnacle Companies, a real estate development and investment company that provides innovative designs, built the home with high-tech accessories to enhance the quality of life and assist the blind and deaf residents with communication throughout their home.
The reality program airs Sunday evenings on the ABC network usually at 8 p.m. It is typically a one-hour program but occasionally airs two-hour specials for certain projects.
It consists of a design team led by carpenter Ty Pennington and hundreds, sometimes thousands, of craftsmen and women who volunteer their time to rebuild a home for a deserving family in seven days, a feat that would normally take months to complete.
Pennington amuses viewers with his energy and playful shouting through a megaphone during the program. He also touches the hearts of viewers with his sincerity and somewhat secretive special construction projects he takes on in one particular room of a construction project.
During the first season of this show's airing, it earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality Program. In its second season, it was awarded the People's Choice Award for Favorite Reality Show-Makeover, and the Family Television Award for Best Alternative-Reality Program.
Each program begins with the design team viewing a brief videotape of a family in need of a home. Their bus pulls up to the home and Pennington yells "Good Morning!" to the family through his megaphone as they pour out of their home to greet each team member. This is followed by a tour of the home selected for a makeover and the family is then sent on a one-week vacation. A week later they return and following Pennington's lead, everyone yells, "Bus driver, move that bus." Then emotion takes over and tears flow as a tour is given of the new home.
Janice said she and Kenneth were on the set when the Llanes family arrived to see their completed new home and all excitedly called out, or signed, "Bus driver, move that bus!"
According to Kenneth, the show about the Llanes family is tentatively scheduled to air either July 23 or 30.