My Other Gig: Connie Sinclair
New Mexico’s Connie Sinclair recently won the #11 division at the annual Wiley Hicks memorial in Amarillo, Texas, with Deon Masters, but she makes her living day-to-day designing custom cabinets.

Connie Sinclair, Cimarron, N.M., is a nine-time Colorado Professional Rodeo Association Mixed Team Roping Champion, she finished in the top 25 at the 2014 #10 Bloomer Trailer WSTR Finale IX with Johnny Garcia and most recently won the #11 division at the annual Wiley Hicks Memorial with Deon Masters to collect her biggest WSTR check to-date. Sinclair has won countless saddles and awards in the arena. For years she trained horses, is a past Women’s Professional Rodeo Association barrel racer and now makes her living designing custom cabinetry. Embarking on five years, she has operated Cabinets by Connie, working with clients and contractors in Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico.

“I’ve been on my own since 2011 and it’s been very successful. I hustle. It’s not something you can sit around and hope someone calls. You certainly have to be out there pounding the doors. When you see sticks going up you ask them where they are getting their cabinets. I’m fortunate we live in a small, remote area, but we have a lot of out-of-state people who come up to our ski valleys and build second homes. I’ve had the opportunity to do everything from manufactured home remodels to multi-million dollar new builds and they are all exciting!”

Ten years ago, Sinclair was raising her daughter (Lacy Harris) on her own. She was riding horses and had several jobs. One of her clients was Dennis Nazelrod, a cabinet man who admired her training skills and encouraged her to take those skills and apply them to the cabinet business.

“He was a great mentor, teaching me everything from job measure to actual design,” recalled Sinclair. “My first job was a hospital, I drew that job by hand which gave me a step up before learning the complicated CAD program later on. I learned there are residential cabinets and there are commercial cabinets and there is a big difference!”

In just several short years she’s completed upwards of 200 custom kitchen and bathroom (both residential and commercial) cabinet jobs and has no plans to slow down. She and husband, Rick Sinclair, are currently building their own home in New Mexico, where they just finished installing a new Priefert arena—so team roping and custom cabinets it will be for the foreseeable future.

“It’s the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had and it gives me time for the fun things and time to play in my sandbox. Rick is so supportive of everything I do and that’s so important. It’s a unique situation because I can schedule my appointments with my clients to meet their needs, but also to fit my weekends and evening practice times. A lot of times I do work weekends or evenings or whatever it requires, but it really is the best of both worlds.”

Team roping is the tie that binds, but WSTR members are as varied as it comes when it comes to making a living. Wiley Hicks #11 Champion Connie Sinclair, talks about her daily grind.

What is Cabinets by Connie?
There are several different aspects. I work with contractors or directly with clients who are building a home or doing a remodel. When I assist contractors, they never have to deal with the cabinets if they give the job to me. I do everything from job measure to helping the client pick wood species, door styles and stains, and then do all the design and layout. I determine what the client wants and where they want it—if they want drawer stacks or spice racks or rollout shelves and design it with the best functionality possible. At that point, I determine which of my dealerships is most cost-effective for the job, then order the cabinets based on the final design. We do everything from inexpensive installs to top-of-the-line kitchen and bathroom cabinets. We can also do laundry rooms, mudrooms, tack rooms or anywhere else you might want a cabinet. 

A custom kitchen designed by Cabinets by Connie.

What is your position in the business?
I would classify myself as a cabinet designer. I use an expensive, computerized CAD program to design the layouts. It allows me to send perspective views of the completed project, and then send detailed layouts with measurements for the plumbers, electricians and contractors. It’s pretty handy for everyone.

Are there aspects of the Western industry that have transferred over to your business?
I trained horses for a living from the ’90s until I started in on this and that’s hard work. This is hard work too, but it’s not so physical and when you get older you learn you can’t always keep doing what you’ve done your whole life. Maintaining customer service is one thing that’s really transferred over—how to treat people with honesty and integrity, which is what it takes to be successful. When you are training and selling horses, or you’re training other people, or have other people’s kids in your hands you better be on your toes because it can be criticized pretty easily.

What is one lesson you’ve learned in owning your own business?
I think if you work for yourself, you work harder. People think, “I can do whatever I want, whenever I want,” but you end up working 14 or 15 hours a day. You don’t have a boss, but the clients are your bosses. So you are working at night or on weekends or whenever they aren’t.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding thing is creating a space the customer can really enjoy. I’ve met a lot of great people who are still my friends because I’ve done their cabinets. A home kitchen is really personal, so the highest reward for me is making so many great friends—that’s awesome.

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