Little Bit About Kirt
I’ve had a passion for “creative metal fabrication” for as long as I can remember. From the day I was born I was always surrounded by the artistic influences of my mom and the “mechanical endeavors” of my dad that literally ranged from planes to trains, to automobiles… and a couple of hot air balloons along the way.
Chief among my dad’s endeavors were several antique car restorations, antique hot rods and kustom cars, along with hundreds of kustom car magazines he had collected from the 1950’s. From a very early age I would always rummage through his magazines and it wasn’t long until I became very passionate about kustom cars and the creative metal fabrication they evolved from.
Kustom cars of the 50’s were incredible works of “metal art” that were literally cut into pieces and recreated into amazing works of rolling art. As a child, I would do the same thing to model cars … trying to create in plastic what they were doing in metal.
In the late 1980’s I began studying the craft of coachbuilding. Coachbuilding is the metal forming craft used by craftsmen in the early 1900’s to hand-build car bodies, prior to mass-production… a craft still used to this day by several exotic car companies and custom car builders. I also began serving in the United States Marine Corps at that time, but it didn’t stop me from gathering tools and practicing coachbuilding while I served. After twelve years of service, I moved back to my hometown of Dartmouth, MA with my wife Kendra our two sons (Kevin and Kameron). I worked at a few local companies and continued to practice coachbuilding and metal art as a hobby.
After the events of 9-11 happened, however, I wanted to find a way to serve and in 2004 I joined a local contractor, John Gonsalves, who was starting an organization called Homes For Our Troops (HFOT). He was looking to build specially adapted homes and donate them to severely injured Veterans and their families, and having just built my garage (for my hobby) I found a new calling and my hobby took a back seat.
I became one of HFOT’s founding members and eventually served as its Vice President and Chief Projects Officer, in charge of building the homes across the country. Together, with a team we had assembled, we turned HFOT from an idea that we developed around our kitchen tables, into a nationwide organization that, to this day, has donated close to 300 homes to our injured Veterans and their families.
As I followed my new passion in the nonprofit world, I still felt the “pull” of metal art and dabbled in a few projects during that time. I had the privilege of taking part in three episodes of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where we collaborated with them to build a few homes for some of our injured.
I had the pleasure of working with Paulie Dimeo on two of the builds, and on the first build for MSG Luis Rodriquez in Clarksville, TN, Paulie asked me to build a chest of drawers that looked like the hat from Dr.Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat.” I used my coachbuilding skills and, with the help of one of our team members (and awesome carpenter) Doug Desmairis, built the chest of drawers.
Then on another build for SFC Gene Westbrooke in Lawton, OK Paulie and Preston asked for a “Frank Lloyd Write inspired” workbench. They sketched a design on a piece of paper and together with our team, which included my dad (Manny) and my brother (Skott) and a team we assembled from the local area, we made a special “metal art” workbench that was wheelchair accessible for both Gene and his son, who was also confined to a wheelchair after a tragic accident.
After helping the team bring HFOT to a national level, I decided in 2008 to start KMR Consulting Services, LLC and I began consulting other nonprofits and small businesses in organizational development, donor development, web development, social media and public relations. During my consulting years, I had the privilege of serving in senior executive positions at and/or consulting for wonderful organizations like the Semper Fi Fund, Purple Heart Homes and Pro Home, Inc and others.
However, the life-long pull of metal art and metal fabrication consistently occupied my mind until I succumbed to its call and started KR’s Metal Art Forms as a part-time endeavor in 2012 and, shortly after that, I became a full-time high school welding and metal art teacher in 2015… and I’ve been enjoying every step of this journey!