Jakob Barger 2018
Jakob Barger is a Chattanooga native. Like a couple of other employees, he studied under Dr. James Stroud. Jakob regularly plays piano at Christ Reformed Church in Soddy-Daisy, TN. Jakob grew up helping his father make Violas Da Gamba in a small garage shop, and is a competent woodworker, metalworker, and programmer. He is an integral part of the design process from start to finish. He has a particular interest in congregational singing and psalmody.
Bruce Fowkes • 1988
Bruce Fowkes is a native of Salt Lake City, UT. He became interested in the organ as a boy after attending a concert at the Mormon Tabernacle. He studied organ with Douglas Bush at Brigham Young University and with James Drake at Utah State University. While studying in Provo he did an apprenticeship with Michael Bigelow & Company. After college he worked in London, England with Matthew Copley where he studied voicing and was able to examine many historic English organs. In 1983 he returned to the U.S. and worked with Michael Bigelow and John Brombaugh & Assoc. where he met and worked with Ralph Richards. Bruce is married to Karla, organist at Grace Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, and has a 28 year old son.
Nathan Govig 2016 Shop Foreman
Nathan is both our youngest employee and the shop foreman. Nathan is originally from Rockford, Illinois Nathan and grew up in Chattanooga. A graduate of Chattanooga Woodworking Academy, he has explored woodworking through everything from log home building to designing and building fine furniture. Since starting organ building during his final year at CWA, he has learned to appreciate the complexity and beauty unique to pipe organs and is enjoying the opportunity to be involved in all woodwork that goes into an organ. When not at work or in his home shop, he loves hiking and catching an occasional local concert.
Alex Haas 2017
Alex has one of the more round-about ways of becoming a member or Richards, Fowkes & Co. He is a native of Brocton, NY, a small town located between Erie, PA and Buffalo, NY. Graduating in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science-Environmental Science from Allegheny College he moved to Boyd, TX where he interned, and later worked as a keeper at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. Deciding that building things with his hands was more exciting than taking care of lions and tigers, he changed fields to carpentry/woodworking and moved to Fort Worth, TX where he met his (now) wife Caitlin. They decided to leave Texas in search of mountains, forests, and more outdoor opportunities, arriving in Chattanooga, TN in July 2015. After a variety of woodworking jobs in the Chattanooga area, Alex sought the highest level of craftmanship he could and joined RFC in February of 2017. When you can’t find him in the shop building casework, welding, or finishing our Opus 24 (literally applying the finish, we’re all trying to FINISH Op. 24), he’ll be out on a soccer field, on a hike with his dogs and wife, climbing rocks, or in a basement playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Joshua Knight • 2018
Joshua began musical training with piano lessons around age eight and within a few short years was playing hymns for his small hometown church in Auburn, AL. Having a love of all things mechanical and musical, he began learning to tune pianos in high school. After high school, providence and a childhood fascination with the pipe organ led him to study with Judy Glass at Southern Adventist University. In addition to working at Richards, Fowkes & Co, Joshua is organist at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church and enjoys frequent accompanying opportunities in the community.
Brian Miscio 1998
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Brian moved to the Chattanooga area at the age of 14. He studied classical guitar under Dr. Mario Abril at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, graduating in 1997 with a Bachelor of Music degree. He began at Richards, Fowkes & Co. in April of 1998 with Opus 7, initially focusing on pre-voicing and cabinetry. Throughout his tenure, he has continued to take on more responsibilities, namely building key systems throughout the organ, such as wind chests and swell boxes, as well as more delicate tasks like pedal boards and inlay. As a trained musician, Brian is grateful for the unique opportunity to channel his musical intuition into both construction and performance. Brian is married to Kara, a pianist and teacher, and the couple have a daughter, Nicolina Rose.
Ralph Richards 1988
Ralph grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. At the age of 15 he started organ lessons with Byron Blackmore, and on the recomendation of Jim Christie, also a student of Blackmore, he studied organ and harpsichord performance with Bill Porter and Lisa Crawford at Oberlin College. While there Ralph became friends with the Brombaugh shop, then located in Germantown, OH. After a short apprenticeship with Brombaugh in Eugene, OR, he and Paul Fritts started their company in Tacoma, WA. After 9 years of work they went separate ways, and Ralph began his partnership with Bruce Fowkes.
Patrick Spiesser 1992
Patrick Spiesser is from Alsace in northeastern France. In 1977 he started as an apprentice in a carpentry and cabinet shop (Menuiserie Krieger, Duntzenheim, France). After two years he passed the test and became a journeyman. He spent two years at Alfred Wild, Facteur d’Orgues, in Gottenhouse, France. In 1981 he moved on to Manufacture d’Orgues Koenig in Sarre-Union, France. After two years he passed the journeyman test in organbuilding. From 1990 to 1991 he worked on the design, manufacture and presentation before a jury of organ builders, of his masterpiece: a four stop house organ. In 1993 he finished the last test for his diploma and on October 29th 1993 received the title of master organ builder (Maître Facteur d’Orgues). The ten years at Koenig included many restorations of old organs as well as the building of new instruments and maintenance. In October of 1991 he moved to the USA and started working at Richards, Fowkes & Co. at the end of December. He works in all aspects of the trade.
Dean Wilson 1991
Dean Wilson is originally from Leeds, England where he apprenticed and worked with FJ Rogers for 7 years before joining JW Walker for 4 years becoming pipe shop foreman. In January 1991 he joined Richards, Fowkes & Co. to become head pipe-maker and has been involved in the production of all metal pipes for the company. Dean is active with youth soccer as Director of Coaching of a local association and if he is not on a soccer field then he will probably be on a stool in one of the local bars.
Andy Wishart 2004
Andy is one of our fully qualified pipemakers. Before joining our company in the fall of 2004 he lived in Leeds, England where he worked for FJ Rogers for 20 years. He is trained in all aspects of pipemaking and has gained a worldwide reputation for his work. Andy coaches soccer for Chattanooga FC Academy and is enjoying his new life in the Tennessee Valley. He is proud that his son Callum attends the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. Callum is now a sophomore and the kicker on the football team.