Phil Cohen


Phillip Cohen grew up in inner-city Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami before wandering around in three countries, searching for a life that matters. Running from a violent world and horridly dysfunctional home, he passes through numerous hippie communes before, with his girlfriend, discovering a Bible community in rural Tennessee, where they later marry.

Part of his breaking through to understanding God’s love happens while visiting Nicaragua. There he helps Pablo Yoder write Angels Over Waslala, stories about God reaching hearts deep in the jungles of this war-torn country. It sells tens of thousands of copies and helps many lives. In time, God shows Phillip he has a remarkable talent: woodworking. In rural Tennessee, Phillip builds porch swings in a neighbor’s pigpen from walnut, cherry, and cedar, and children’s toys. He watches his customers delight in his simple work.

Cohen Woodworking started in 1982 and grew over the years, landing multiple contracts for Walmart and other large clients. In 2017, Phil was invited to Washington, DC, to be awarded the Small Business Person of the Year for Missouri. The company also was featured in many news and media outlets, including Forbes magazine, for placing people ahead of profits. Phillip retired in 2021, and the business is now run by his sons, Ben and Nate.

Phil’s Experience:

  • Cloud Townsend ultimate leadership workshop. Three-week-long sessions
  • Crucial conversations workshop
  • Oz Principle workshops and personal coaching
  • 21 laws leadership
  • 15 laws of growth
  • Blue ocean strategy
  • Story brand marketing system
  • Harvard case studies. Two weeks.
  • Convene Christian CEO pair groups for years
  • DISC personality assessments
  • Started Cohen Architectural Woodworking


  • Patrick Lencioni
  • Jim Collins
  • Paul Akers
  • John Kotter
  • Michael Porter
  • Bill Prenatt

Leadership Influencers:

  • Craig Groeschel
  • Andy Stanley
  • John Maxwell

1975 – Humble Beginnings

I started working with wood in 1975 in a pigpen inside a neighbor’s barn, building porch swings. Having grown up in the violent neighborhoods of Chicago in an abusive home and later overcoming drug use, I found woodworking to be therapeutic.
Gina and I married in 1976.

1976 – My First Saw

I couldn’t afford new tools, so I had to take what I could find at yard sales and flea markets. Click on the video to see how God seemed to be with me, even then.

1977 – Wooden Trucks

Half our house was a woodshop. I made wooden trucks big enough for a child to ride. Gina added the artwork. We charged $10 for these. I also made baby cradles with wooden canopies. Gina sewed a slip-on flannel sheet, and handstitched a little quilt. Those were $100.

1982 – A Business is Born

We built our first house from rough lumber and used building materials. I purchased my first business license and named our business Country Woodshop. I built cabinets on a gravel floor, with an old 8” table saw and a rough lumber workbench.

1984 – Our First Shop

A local car dealer gave me his old mechanic shop if I would tear it down and move it. I spent weeks cleaning cement blocks — until my hands were bleeding. We poured a concrete floor and purchased new metal for the roof. By a miracle — we completed the shop debt free!

1985 – Opportunities

Soon we were building cabinets for hospitals, stores, and other businesses. In around 1985, an opportunity opened for us to build cabinets for Walmart Stores. Over the next several years, we would build cabinets for more than 850 Walmart Stores.

1994 – Forced to Change My Focus

We moved to Flemingsburg, Kentucky and built a new shop. Through hard times, we nearly lost our business. A friend told me, “Phil, you can’t build cabinets and run the business.”
I reluctantly turned the shop work over to my sons and began learning how to run a business.

1998 – Trials & Errors

We moved to Summersville, Missouri and built another shop. Times still were hard as I was trying to learn everything I could about running a business.

2004 – A Leap Of Faith

We moved one final time. We built a 12,000 square foot shop in the Saint James Industrial Park. We renamed ourselves Cohen Architectural Woodworking. In 2007, we added an 8,000 square foot warehouse.

2016 – A Modern Facility

We added 33,250 square feet to our Saint James facility, for a total of 54,250 square feet. We grew to between 75-80 employees.

2017 – SBA Person of the Year (MO)

For most of my career, we operated debt free. In 2017, I was named the SBA Small Business Person of the Year for Missouri.

2018 – Lifetime Achievement Award

I was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Saint Louis Small Business Hall of Fame.

2020 – Forbes Small Giants

Our company was featured in Forbes magazine for our healthy culture that put people ahead of profits.