Carpenters take a beating in their work, and 30 years of pounding nails, climbing on roofs, and working in foul weather was starting to make retirement look pretty good to Tom Stine, a 55-year-old lead carpenter at Vogan Associates, Silver Spring, Md. When owner Kelly Vogan started a kitchen-and-bath division earlier this year, the solution for retaining Stine became obvious. “Tommy just moved to the K&B division,” Vogan says. “It's worked out perfectly, and he's tickled.”

Kitchen-and-bath work, according to Vogan, is ideal for older skilled carpenters. “Tommy can frame any roof in the world, except physically he can't walk on the roof,” given the risk of being injured in a fall. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that older workers have a lower incidence of injuries, but that their injuries tend to be more severe than those of younger workers.

Vogan notes that kitchen-and-bath jobs are preferable primarily for their physical conditions, because “99% of the time you're inside, out of the elements; the sun's not baking your skin. It's less taxing physically,” he says.

Another plus of kitchen-and-bath jobs: they tend to wrap up fairly quickly. “You're in and out,” Vogan says, “and the pay is great, and it's a neat feeling.” He also says that Stine has “a new lease” on his job and has been instrumental in the success of the new division.