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Industry Folks - Ray Fehner, KCM Cabinets Inc

image Ray Fehner, Estimator, KCM Cabinets Inc., San Antonio, TX

SAN ANTONIO - Born and raised in the small Texas town of Cuero, just a short 100 miles east of San Antonio, Ray Fehner attended and graduated from Cuero High School. Upon graduation, he joined the Army National Guard. After completing his training, he returned home and attended Victoria College where he obtained his Associate’s degree in Art.



    It is during this time that Fehner’s passion for woodwork began. While attending college, he began working for the largest employer in town, Gulf Coast Wood Products, a millwork and cabinet shop that was founded in 1953. There he learned the ins and outs of cabinetry and millwork, from loading trucks for deliveries to estimating.
    “In 1974, management asked me if I wanted to be an estimator. Of course my answer was yes,” he says. “At that time, the Architectural Woodwork Institute had a training program for estimators. Keep in mind, this was before computers; everything was done by hand and a full set of blueprints.
    “My mentor, to this day, was Senior Estimator W.T. Smith,” Fehner continues. “He taught me more than just estimating. He always believed that if there was a problem, you just had to talk to people. He never met a person he didn’t befriend. He was an amazing individual with an abundance of knowledge. When he retired, I was fortunate to fill his position.
    “Living in Cuero was great. We had access to the major cities, but still kept our laid back way of life. Cuero was and still is a friendly town, full of history.”
    In the late ‘80s, the company fell on hard times and Fehner started all over, going to work for a cabinet company in San Antonio. It was during that time that Fehner faced his next chapter. After three years, he went to work for one of the company’s suppliers who made countertops. He spent the next 10 years with Classic Casework until the owner shut down the operation to retire.
    Fehner then landed at KCM Cabinets, where he continues his 47 years of estimating.
    “All through my career, I have enjoyed meeting and working with people,” he says. “Every project holds a new set of challenges. I have gone from blueprints to Dodge scan microfilm to now, online estimating.
    “Many of the people I worked with in my early years are gone, but I will never forget them. They helped me become who I am today. I still like to pick up the phone and talk, versus communicate through an email. You can express yourself over the phone so much better. Do I still enjoy doing what I do? Yes I do, but I know a day will come when I will retire. Then I will fill in all the holes left in my story.
    “I enjoy bow hunting and fishing at the coast,” Fehner adds. “In my spare time, I enjoy working on my project cars. One is a 1988 IROC Camaro and the other is 1983 Mercedes 380SL. They can take up a lot of your spare time, but it so fun to watch them come together.” -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net