All per-orders and backordered products will ship fall 2024.

Our Team

Kate Whelley McCabe – CEO

Kate in the woods
Kate grew up in Moultonborough, New Hampshire (a state a lot like Vermont, just upside-down) and she and her husband Justin had each driven through Vermont exactly once before deciding to pack up their lives and move here, with no job prospects, to settle down and start a family. What could go wrong?  Kate and Justin found jobs and found Montpelier, where they now live in a house with a big barn on 10 wooded acres with their two kids and two dogs and Kate’s gardening empire. It’s an incredibly good life. Kate and Justin have been making maple syrup since just before starting the Vermont Evaporator Company in 2015 and have worked their way from 25 buckets and a Sapling Evaporator outdoors to 100 lines and a Mini-Sportman in a beautiful sugar house that Justin built during the pandemic. Sugaring makes March and April almost not the worst months ever. Which, as you know if you’ve ever experienced mud season in Vermont, is saying something!
Kate attended Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts where she studied English and Economics. Kate spent her junior year at the University of Ulster at Coleraine, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, where she traveled all over the Irish island and learned important lessons in attending nightclubs, cutting class, and the nature of sectarian strife. (Kate highly recommends the Netflix series Derry Girls as 100% cracker.) After a stint at McMaster-Carr Supply Company, where she fell in love with big warehouses and with Justin, she got a law degree at The George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC. While a law student, Kate did lots of interesting and good things: she edited a legal manual for foster parents, she filed backpay actions on behalf of federal employees, she drafted appellate briefs to support the separation of church and state, and she walked to the White House to shout at the President of the United States before every exam. Kate practiced law in Vermont for about 10 years, serving as a law clerk at the Vermont Supreme Court and as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Vermont. Kate then left the law to run this crazy outfit, where she is generally in charge, and does all the things other people don’t do. Still paying for her expensive and excellent education, Kate hopes to make it big (or at least medium) in business and devote the rest of her life to saving democracy. You gotta have goals.

Paul Eley – Plant Manager

Paul in the woods
Paul Eley grew up in Denver, Colorado, and found his way to Vermont in the middle of a blizzard in 2009, with no snow tires or general clue about what he was doing. Though he couldn’t have located Vermont on a map with any confidence prior to moving here (and, honestly, for some time after) he now realizes how incredibly lucky he is to live here, with a stream and forest outside his front door, a veggie farm two houses down, and many opportunities to get outside and play.  He’s married to Sarah, who is both awesome and amazing and incredible and great. They have two young children who loved helping identify Maple trees, tap them, and collect the sap—they especially liked that part because they got to steal some sweet sap sips when Paul wasn’t looking.  They also took their jobs very seriously when it came time to boil on Paul’s DIY Seedling Evaporator—helping break down wooden pallets to burn, diligently scooping foam from the pan, and offering frequent reminders that they should probably get a taste really soon, after all this hard work.  Just this morning we were reminiscing about our experience making maple syrup as we poured some of our homemade syrup on french toast. Paul has been bitten by the sugaring bug and looks forward to tapping more maples next season, all with his helpful kids helpfully helping. 

Paul attended Cornell College (NOT University) in Mt. Vernon, Iowa where he earned his ever-useful degree in Modern European History. Lacking significant job prospects as a Historian of Modern History or whatever, he moved to Ten Mile, Tennessee, and began the transformation to Outdoor Educator. Since then he’s worked various stints all over the United States, teaching folks how to poop in the woods, playing lots of games of camouflage, and encouraging frequent tick checks. Though he mainly worked in outdoor education and other youth-related fields over the years, he’s had many an interesting odd-job and this is his first in manufacturing. He lucked right into working for Vermont Evaporator Company after being a stay-at-home Poppa for a few years before and during the first year of the pandemic. He’s learned the barrel-making technique from the best and proudly takes a raw barrel and cuts, builds, sandblasts, and paints it to produce the beautiful Sapling Evaporators you see today. 

Nikki Whelley – Communications Director

Nikki in the woods
Nikki grew up in Elba, NY, (Western NY) also known as “the flatlands”. She officially considers herself a flatlander, even though she now lives at the top of a mountain on a dead end road in Vermont. Growing up in the snow belt outside of Buffalo, Nikki has always known snow, but not sugaring! In 2015, Nikki and Kate officially became sisters-in-law, when Nikki married Kate’s brother, Patrick (see below). Nikki has moved to Vermont twice in her life! Once for grad school, and secondly after she and Patrick decided to relocate their family here in 2019. After living in Kate and Justin’s basement for a few months while Nikki and Patrick found a house in Vermont for their small family, Nikki settled near the top of Dumpling Hill, “tractor driving distance” from the McCabes. There is a big yard for her kiddos to play, a rhubarb jungle, a mean bear, and a lovely sugar wood. You will see Nikki and her family sugaring on their Sapling Evaporator on Vermont Evaporator’s social channels and website!

After graduating with a whopping 38 kids in her class from Elba Central School, Nikki went on to the University at Buffalo. There she got an undergraduate degree in Geology and took extra classes in Plant Biology, Swing Dance, and Dinosaurs. From there, Nikki made her first move to Vermont for her graduate degree, where she learned to scuba dive in Lake Champlain for her masters research on algae blooms. Nikki then moved to Singapore, where she worked at Nanyang Technological University and the Earth Observatory of Singapore, all while trying delicious food, making good friends, and traveling. From there, Nikki and Patrick moved to Maryland, where Nikki worked at NASA Goddard and the University of Maryland as a science outreach communicator, and grew her small family. While living in MD, Nikki would sometimes meet Kate at fairs to sell the Sapling Evaporator with her kiddos. They made a great team! After relocating for the second time to Vermont, Nikki officially joined the Vermont Evaporator Company in 2019. She started with boxing orders and website redesign, and now has moved up to Communications Director, running all things communications: Social Media, Website, Videos, Marketing, and every once in a while. . . boxing.

Our Models

Cooking pizza on the Sapling Everything Grill

Justin McCabe – Chief Engineer

After starting Vermont Evaporator Company in 2015 with Kate, Justin continued working as a lawyer, but also makes time to be a part-time, volunteer model and Chief Engineer for us.

Justin was the inventor of the Sapling Evaporator. His more recent work includes the development of the DIY Seedling Maple Syrup Evaporator, and the accompanying video – Building a Barrel Evaporator.

Man tapping a maple tree

Patrick Whelley – Resident Volcanologist

Our resident volcanologist and part-time forklift driver, Patrick Whelley, is another family-member-turned-model for the Vermont Evaporator Company.

You may recognize him from our DIY Maple Syrup Series on YouTube. With office space at the Vermont Evaporator Company Warehouse, Patrick also gets roped into helping with the occasional big freight delivery, impromptu photo shoot, or emergency maple doughnut morning meeting.

Learn more about Patrick, and the work that he does at: https://patrickwhelley.com 

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