Loads of locals know Moorestown resident Craig Lord as the award-winning contractor, orchestrating a 30-year business as president of , and assisting clients while they refashion their homes into delightful havens. But, few know Lord is also a published writer and an ardent antique collector of Moorestown artifacts.
After earning a government degree in 1978 from Franklin and Marshall in Lancaster, PA, Lord tried writing as a profession.
“I worked as a freelance writer and wanted to be a reporter,” explains the soft-spoken Lord. “But, it was a hard field to break into.”
To help pay the bills, Lord worked for the Moorestown-based Steward R. Maines Company. The late Maines was a huge guide for Lord, teaching him business savvy, along with the nuts and bolts of carpentry. But, eventually, Lord had to leave.
“It was a family business,” reflects the 55-year-old entrepreneur and father of two college-age kids, “and I didn’t see any upward mobility for me.”
By then, Lord had married his college sweetheart, Deb, now 54, and decided to start his company in the basement of his home.
In 1984, he and his wife bought an 1860 three-story farmhouse on Church Street, which sits amid 100-year-old oak trees and placid evergreens. The Civil War-era manor boasts knotty pine flooring, soaring 10-foot ceilings and original casings. Lord says part of the space became his office, and he and his family lived in the home until his oldest child was 12.
“It was too hard for the kids to ride a bike being right on this road,” says Lord, so the family moved a couple of miles away.
Through the years, Lord restored the building “to its original luster” but added energy-efficient lights and cost-saving insulation. The first floor houses a conference room, office and a showroom kitchen with cork flooring and countertops made from recycled glass.
And speaking of glass, tucked into two corners are wooden barristers meticulously supporting his antique glass bottle collection found at job sites throughout Moorestown.
“This was found on the site of an old dairy distribution center,” says Lord proudly, displaying a bottle etched with Locust Lane Farms, from a time when mostly farmsteads dotted Moorestown's landscape.
On lower shelving, early 20th-century tools collected by Lord lie in precision, with graying wooden handles.
More than two years ago, the couple moved back into the dwelling, converting the two upper floors into a three-bedroom apartment, trimmed to complement the now empty nesters.
Since launching his company, Lord has embarked on all kinds of renovations and remodels: chef-style kitchens, European spa-like baths, Florida sunrooms and sport-themed recreation rooms.
“We are a design/build company—which really means, one-stop shopping for the client,” says Lord, who has experts outline the work before construction begins and assist with buying decisions.
His company has remodeled high-visible sites in town: , and . His company amended apartments in the former Lenola School, where he was a student and where his mother taught kindergarten.
When pushed, Lord speaks about being named one of 55 Quality Leaders by Qualified Remodeler magazine.
“Gaining the respect of the industry,” says Lord, “is inspiring.”
His company has also been honored with six Chrysalis Awards honoring the finest remodelers in the nation. And, in June, his company was awarded the for exceptional customer satisfaction.
Several times a year, Lord holds R. Craig Lord University sessions for clients addressing basic remodeling concerns: Which wood cabinets are stronger? Which paint colors coordinate with new furniture?
This year, Lord may add cooking classes.
“The whole remodeling process can be overwhelming for many people,” adds Lord.
Lord says most important to him is being able to match a client’s finished vision of the project within the client’s budget.
“I take the trust people instill in me very serious,” says Lord. “And, I make sure I can solve my customers’ needs.”
Besides being a master craftsman and savoir-faire businessman, Lord knows the worth of community service. He says it was something he learned growing up in Moorestown.
“Some people need more help than others,” says Lord.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Lord and some employees helped repair damaged homes in Bayou La Batre, AL. Last year, Lord raised and donated more than $2,000 to UrbanPromise in Camden, a group providing after-school care and mentoring to young people.
These days, Lord still writes, composing his monthly newsletter and writing for building trade magazines. He likes to share his inspiration for fiction stories he pens—golf, dark characters, some fantasy. Does he have the next best-selling tome in the works?
“I have some ideas,” smiles Lord. “Maybe sometime down the road.”