Growing up in Chicago, Tom Moser learned to work with his hands from his father, a stereotyper for the Chicago Tribune. Tom’s parents died when he was young, and at age 15 he dropped out of Northbrook High School to join the Air Force during the Korean War. While in high school, Tom met Mary Wilson, whom he married in 1957.
Tom credits the company’s success to his partnership with Mary, and throughout their marriage the two have continued to pursue their love for furniture. During the early years of their marriage, Tom and Mary supplemented their income by purchasing old furniture, refinishing it in their home workshop, and reselling it. "That’s when I began to closely examine pieces and really think about the designs and intentions of 19th century craftsmen," muses Tom.
Tom’s personal interest in the art of language persuaded him to return to school where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in Speech Education from the State University of New York in 1960. After graduation, he began teaching English at Ann Arbor (MI) High School. In the next four years, he earned both his master’s degree and doctorate in Speech Communications from the University of Michigan, and taught at state colleges in Ypsilanti, Michigan and Cortland, New York.
In the mid-1960s, Tom, Mary and their four young sons spent a year in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where Tom taught English at the College of Petroleum and Minerals. The year away from his workshop profoundly affected Tom, and he realized how much he missed the craft of woodworking. Upon returning to the U.S., Tom taught at the University of Maine, Orono and then at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine where he also directed the debate program.
In 1972, Tom left his tenured professorship to turn his woodworking hobby into a career. In April 1973, with their first advertisement in Down East magazine, Tom and Mary launched Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers.
What began as an intense exploration of craftsmanship— an experiment —has evolved into a business that employs more than 125 people, and has residential, professional and academic customers worldwide.
Thirty five years later, Tom remains active in the business, along with three of his four sons. He is also working to restore a boat, and serves on several non-profit boards, including the Maine Maritime Museum and Maine Employer’s Mutual Insurance Company.