John Sulzbach founded The Proper Tree arborist service in Killingworth, CT, after many years of training and experience in a broad range of fields, including factory manager, graphic designer, carpenter, and builder. In addition to his arborist’s license, he holds a BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, as well as an advanced certificate in graphic design from the Art Institute of Boston. John Sulzbach also earned a degree in wooden boat building from the Landing School of Boat Building and Design.
Located on a stretch of Maine’s Kennebunk River called The Landing, the Landing School of Boat Building, Design and Marine Technology teaches its students in a storied place in the American shipbuilding industry, where more than 20 different shipbuilding firms built America’s ships from the 15th century until 1942. In 1978, its first year, the Landing School comprised 9 students and 2 instructors who built and launched 2 dories and 2 sailboats in its first year.
In the next few years, the school developed curricula to supply the American boatbuilding industry with skilled new designers and craftsmen trained in the aesthetics and techniques of commercial boat and yacht design. In the early years of the 21st century, it responded to a growing need for technicians trained in marine systems by creating the Marine Systems Program, which today is an important source of new technicians in this critical area.
The Wooden Boat Building Program is the evolution of the school’s first classes. Working primarily with wood but also employing composites, they build boats from scratch. In the fall semester, they generally build small boats like skiffs and dories, progressing to more complex craft like sailboats or powerboats in the spring. In addition to the specialized skill of boatbuilding, students also learn woodworking and carpentry in this program, giving them a valuable complement of skills by the time they receive their degrees.