Meet the Team Featuring: Alex

Alex joined our team over ten years ago, beginning in our de-nailing group and moving into acquisitions. He has a broad history here and we asked him to share a bit about life at Pioneer and about himself:  

Alex in the shopYou grew up in upstate NY near our HQ and stuck around. What do you like about living here?

I like living in the landscape that I grew up in. This area has a nice balance of elements and I’m not just talking about the seasons. Within a half hour drive of my home there are urban and rural environments, liberal and conservative neighborhoods, nooks and crannies that I still haven’t explored and old childhood stomping grounds.

Alex (right) and Cal (left)

A somewhat younger version of Alex (right) on lunch break with long-time co-worker, Cal (left).

You’ve been here for over a decade, right? You started de-nailing and learned plenty of other roles – can you step us through your transitions?

I’ve been here for 12 or 13 years – I forget which. I started with the de-nailing crew, worked in the yard for a few years, carried the sample department until Steve arrived and then started custom quoting and doing acquisition/inventory work in the office.

What is your role on our team today?

Officially, I am the “Acquisitions and Product Leader”. My  responsibilities include developing pricing for standard and custom projects, being a sort of liaison between Acquisitions and our Sales team, and supporting Michele’s Acquisitions efforts. On any given day I may be maintaining an inventory database, visiting a local barn, updating a spec sheet, or quoting a custom engineered floor. Each day brings new tasks and challenges.

What’s your favorite story as part of the team at Pioneer Millworks?


The jail in NJ was no longer in use when Alex visited to inspect the wood we’d later reclaim.

Exploring old abandoned buildings and factories is always the best.
I remember an old complex in New Jersey that once was a pharmaceutical factory which had room after room filled with old beakers and chemistry ware. Then there was the abandoned prison in New Jersey where I got to pull the giant lever that opened and closed a dozen cell doors at a time. I also looked at an old barge that was dredged out of the Meadowlands in New Jersey which was filled with rats…yes, there have been lots of memorable New Jersey moments.


Alex (right) is also a Wood ID expert. He hosted a Wood Identification class, complete with his favorite wood ID book, which co-worker Hans (left) won after answering a series of wood questions.

What about wood or reclaimed wood appeals to you?

I love that all of our products are tactile and have personality. Even our most uniform products like C-Select Vertical Grain Douglas Fir have subtle organic variation in tone and grain density that just can’t be duplicated in a synthetic product. No matter how tightly we grade a product for  consistency, each individual board is going to be unique.


Which wood product is your favorite? Why?

black and tan 50/50 oak pioneer millworksBlack and Tan 50/50 is such a cool dynamic product. The random remnants of black paint add some rock and roll to this classic and sturdy oak floor.


What’s your background?

Alex selfie 2006

We mentioned Alex was creative – this is a selfie he took during an acquisition in 2006 (well before selfies were even a ‘thing’).

I have a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Cooper Union. [We make use of Alex’s creative nature and writing skills from time to time in Marketing efforts.]

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I buy the Sunday New York Times Early Edition every week at a local Barnes & Noble (where they often mistakenly charge me several dollars less than the cover price). It takes me all week to read it and several days to do the crossword puzzle. By Saturday night I Google search the answers to the clues that I’m hopelessly stuck on. I have no shame.

Share something quirky about yourself…

I always carry a quarter in my pocket. If I’m feeling indecisive, it’s either Heads or Tails and I always follow through.

What’s your favorite book?

“Speak, Memory” by Vladimir Nabokov is my favorite. In this book
Nabokov writes about his childhood and beautifully captures how a child sees the world before becoming an adult. Immediately after reading this book I bought a net and spent many spare summer hours chasing butterflies.


The ‘Random’ Trend: Firewood Panels

A trend in design for the past few years has been “random”.  Random colors, textures, shapes, thicknesses, widths, and character have become the norm in many projects both residential and commercial. Playing off this random concept, a national retailer asked us to create a random firewood wall panel for their stores.

firewood-panel-pioneer-millworks-macroSome people think the roots of this look is in Scandinavian design, while others get more of an Adirondack or Rocky Mountain lodge feel. The simplicity and organic nature of stacked firewood is beautiful – I’ve always marveled at how every piece is unique in shape, size, and texture. Translating this beauty to a prefabricated panel would prove to take considerable work, but our team of craftspeople are always up for a challenge.

First, we had to figure out what we would be using for the wood itself. The firewood we generate in our shop comes in the form of off-cuts from the timbers we salvage. Usually its the “bad part” of the beam on the ends, perhaps with some rot or damage from the deconstruction process. We don’t waste this, and in fact it is burned in our high-performance boilers which heat our kilns and our shop in the colder months here in NY. So we had to find something that wasn’t cut from old timbers – and we didn’t need to look any further than the trees growing around our yard. Nothing too big, just some Poplars and softwoods which, coincidentally, were being trimmed around the same time as they were encroaching on our yard space. They were the perfect size to form a nice arrangement on the panels for our client.

fire-wood-panel-whole-pioneerFor the retailer’s project we split the logs to give them a genuine wedge-profile, cut them to the requested depth, carefully dried them, and then mounted them to a specially prepared plywood backer and frame.

Stepping back and looking at it, our shop thought it was a really cool project that we probably wouldn’t be asked to make again. Fast-forward a few months though, and a longtime client of ours in New York City called up asking about a similar effect, this time for the exterior of a restaurant.  Working with an outdoor application presented its own set of challenges but once again our team developed a solution again sourcing small, fast-growing species overtaking the edges of our yard in NY.



Just this last week, we shipped another set of panels, this time for the lobby of an apartment building outside Philadelphia. This project combined both of our prior efforts, using small diameter logs of similar species and color with the bark intact, but for interior use next to a fireplace.firewood-panels-apt-lobby-paWe’ve done other random projects with a more refined look using reclaimed timbers including a curved end-block wall crafted from Poplar and Basswood, and a really cool custom stained Red Pine wall at a coffee shop in Michigan. What’s your random design desire? stained-red-pine-random-wall-pioneer-product

Welcome Sean Comerford!

Sean Comerford started in our mill with the Moulder Crew in January and moved into the office to join our sales team in May. We dug deeper to learn more about him:Sean explores to feed his love of old wood and history.

Sean explores to feed his love of old wood and history.

Where did you grow up?

I’m originally from Buffalo, NY born and raised. After an extensive European hiatus where I learned that enjoying life is a priority, I returned home to Buffalo wanting to pursue a craft – which in turn took me to Rochester, NY where I apprenticed with a Dry-Stone Waller and learned to build with stone – the old way.

When the snow came with that bitter winter wind, I was unable to build so I turned to yet another medium – wood. I found Pioneer Millworks, and was so excited to start working here that I just came in and most likely pestered Rick enough that he hired me to work the Moulder Line.

You spent some time working in our mill. What did you learn?

Mid-January, I started work on the Moulder Line with Dave C and the guys. With fervor, I started studying the product specs, learning the species, and defecting to grade. Working in the mill nurtured some great relationships and gave me a better understanding of the inner-workings and nuances of our company and products. That knowledge helps me out immensely as a salesman.

What is your role on our sales team?

Learning Reclaimed Wood Sales is a rocky road full of pitfalls, but with this team mistakes are minimal and they transform into good experience. I have come a long way since my first days here, interacting with customers who walk through the front door looking for flooring, paneling, mantle timbers and everything in-between. Apart from Inside Sales, I provide support mainly to Jered S and Roblyn P, who in turn help me grow. My role will eventually evolve into local/regional sales. I’ll help spread the reclaimed word around Rochester, NY and beyond!

What about wood or reclaimed wood appeals to you?
Our 9 acre yard in Farmington, NY.

Reclaimed wood has soul, and as I walk through the yard I am often struck at how old some of these timbers are. Their species are nearly indeterminable but the texture and patina speak volumes about their character. The sustainability of this particular product coupled with the unique beauty makes it irresistible for a tree-hugger/wood-fanatic like myself.

Which of our products are your favorites? Why?

I like my reclaimed wood to have some character, a gnarly and interesting personality while also refined. So, I have to admit, there is a solid tie between Black & Tan-Tan and Antique Heart Pine (Character Select). reclaimed heart pine CS pioneer millworksThe latter, not only has some juicy history but the color and texture is mesmerizing, especially in those deep and wide resin canals where the divide between sap and wood becomes nearly indeterminable. The Black & Tan-Tan has a great story, and though smooth-planed, still has a good amount of that paint-ingrained patina that catches the eye.

sean bug netWhat are your hobbies outside of work?

You can usually find me at Rochester Arts Center throwing pottery, on a hike at Corbett’s Glen, or at the myriad local breweries in the area sipping on an IPA and engaged in good conversation.

What is your educational background?

I graduated with a B.A. in History – not exactly the most sought after certification for this line of work. That said, I do use my history degree to a greater extent now than I ever had in previous jobs – there is history in reclaimed wood and now it’s my job to share that history.

Share something quirky about yourself.

sean travels pano

Two years ago, I paid off my student loans and flew off to Europe with my extra cash, an overstuffed backpack and heady inspiration. I started a European odyssey that would bring me to an antediluvian Norwegian farm where I learned the old ways of raising crops, drank from glacier fed rivers, and chased cattle through the clouds. I took to the coast in Croatia, then on to rural Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary, the Carpathians in Romania, and Slovenia. I hitchhiked the breadth of Italy in less than twenty-four hours and ended up staying on at a Pressoir (Juice Farm) in France that had a wine vat older than the 13 Colonies – the inscription read 1472. I walked, ran, biked, swam, thumbed it, bummed it, and laughed my way through Europe for five months and twenty-two days.

What’s your favorite book?

This is the hardest question by far, but I figured it would be easier to name my favorite authors and genres instead. Without becoming too long winded, I love historical fiction, especially the works of Bernard Cornwell and Ken Follet. The cantankerous Ernest Hemingway is a must and in an opposing fashion, the works of Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching.

Doggy Goodbyes

Charlie hard at work phin lap look

Thank you to all of our followers who have reached out with kind words and warm thoughts about the loss of our canine companions. It isn’t easy to say goodbye. The fact is that we lost two of our office dogs over a month ago, yet each time I tried to write about my boy (Charlie) the tears welled up and my fingers froze over the keys. While I doubt I’ll ever be able to compose something about Charlie without blinking back a flood of emotions, the time that has passed has eased a little of the sorrow and it is only right to keep sharing our boys with everyone in our lives…

charlie and phin

A sunlight nap and a sunlight snack. We always joked that Phin was solar charged. He loved spending time in any patch of sunlight.

With heavy hearts we said goodbye to our two best office dogs. Charlie and Phin were fixtures in our NY headquarters. I’ve always felt fortunate to work in a place that has a dog culture. If ever you stopped in, chances are you were greeted by one – or both – of these special co-workers. Charlie spent the last decade tail wagging and sniffing everyone who came through the door and meandering from desk to desk waiting patiently for pets and treats. While Phin, a more recent addition to our crew, spent his time lap-hopping – a feat that Charlie could never manage with his 90lbs of muscle of golden fluff.

John and I want to thank everyone who spoiled and played with our guys at work and at home. They were loved by not just us, but all who met them. Animals have a way of touching our hearts. They bring out the best in us; they support us; they make us laugh; they offer companionship; and they keep us entertained. I’m humbled by the selflessness they offer and the unconditional love these two dogs shared with us. It was an honor to have such amazing creatures by our sides for all these years.

the lean I could spend hours talking about Charlie and still would leave one wanting as knowing him was an indescribable pleasure. The same can be said of Phin – what big personality in a small package! While I won’t do justice to a life lived to the fullest for 12 years, I will say that Charlie was sweet and kind to every living creature (though he charlie double frisbeedid like to chase the neighbor’s chickens!). He obsessed over every ball and frisbee. There are so many people Charlie knew and loved. We’re doing our best to fill the hole his departure has left with good memories. Many have asked what happened. To put it briefly: cancer. It came without sickness or a whimper. (We learned that cancer of the spleen is the most common cause of death of Golden Retrievers.) One evening, Charlie was excited to play frisbee and watch us do yard work after having “worked” his day at the office. He came to lay near us and I knew from how he looked at me that something was wrong… We’ll forever be grateful for the ways he touched our lives.

phin and johnPhin was popular wherever he ventured. He’s credited with turning several people on to the Boston Terrier breed. The ‘little guy’ even had his own popular Instagram #Phinstagram. As John explains of his little guy: Phin spent countless hours riding with me in the car, on adventures, to and from work, or just going for a drive to clear my head. He was goofy and loved wrestling with toys… and being pretty much Phin. I’m glad I had these little moments with him when the times were pretty tough. It seems sort of fitting that my little guy left this world in his comfy passenger-seat spot. I’m glad I could be there for him in the end. I’m really going to miss this little guy. Sadly there was a neurological problem that came on rather abruptly, and took him years earlier than anyone would have expected for a little breed. Even at his worst points, he still wanted to join in on the adventures or go to work and greet everyone at the office. I was fortunate to have such a great little partner in crime, even if it was far too short.

Charlie and Phin are irreplaceable but there are a few new canines following in their paw prints around the office. Kairo, Reilly, Betty, and Penny in our HQ and Sherlock, Barlow, and  one or two other part-time office pups in Portland, OR.



Reilly (growing puppy!)

Reilly (growing puppy!)

Barlow and Sherlock.

Barlow and Sherlock







To honor our faithful pups, Pioneer Millworks and New Energy Works have made donations in their names to Lollypop Farm, an organization local to our NY headquarters, that works tirelessly to support the health and well being of animals both in and out of our community.


Limited Edition Cherry Flooring

Reclaimed and Rescued Cherry has been milled into engineered flooring (shown with Pure oil/wax finish).

Reclaimed and Rescued Cherry has been milled into engineered flooring (shown with Pure oil/wax finish).

Reclaimed and Rescued Cherry, unfinished.

Reclaimed and Rescued Cherry, unfinished.

We recently milled up a trove of Cherry wood which we had been gathering for years. Cherry is often scarce in the reclaimed realm as the number of trees were less abundant than other species and didn’t reach usable timber sizes for a variety of reasons. The wood was (and remains) highly desirable for furniture, cabinetry, and millwork.

Our recent run yielded over two thousand square feet of our World’s Most Eco-Friendly Engineered Flooring with wonderful natural aged color, a satiny grain, and cleaner surface known as our American Gothic grade.

Much of the material was rescued from an old barn we reclaimed a number of years ago. The Cherry had been milled into board stock in the 1940’s and stored in the barn until our reclamation. Mixed in with the rescued material is reclaimed Cherry, salvaged from old barn timbers in the Northeast. The resulting flooring has minimal nail holes, insect trails, and ferrous staining. Each plank has a micro bevel, is 4” to 7” wide (variable) and is 18” to 8’ in mixed lengths.

Tom and Ann's kitchen was crafted of the same rescued Cherry (solid) by our sister company NEWwoodworks.

Tom and Ann’s kitchen was crafted of the same rescued Cherry (solid) by our sister company NEWwoodworks.


Limited edition reclaimed Cherry flooring (unfinished).

Limited edition reclaimed Cherry flooring (shown unfinished).


This is a limited edition floor. Let us know if you’d like us to quote this for your project!

Our Reclaimed Wood Expert in Ohio

Jered, our reclaimed wood expert, has been on the train and in the car visiting Ohio on his most recent trip. He also had a live trip advisor/helper as one of his sons joined him on this adventure. By Day 3, Jered had promoted him from personal assistant to traveling tech support. Both enjoyed good eats and lots of reclaimed wood.

Jered and Son    Jered and Son_Tech Support    Jered and Son_Day 2

On a quick stop in to a national retail store in Cincidrew furniture old logonnati, they checked out reclaimed oak flooring that was installed over 5 years ago. This was a special batch of Foundry Oak that we reclaimed from the Drew Furniture Factory in North Carolina. Original patina and paint are celebrated in this floor. As Jered says, “It still looks awesome!”Madewell_FoundryOakFloor_Cincinatti_OH_webMadewell_FoundryOak_Floor_Cincinatti_OH_web

Red “Shadow” Pine Salvaged From Historic Tile Manufactory

     AETCO plant demo_web     

In 1892, the American Encaustic Tiling Company (AETCO) built an expansive tile manufactory on the banks of the Muskingum River in Zanesville, Ohio. Red Pine was a significant component in its construction, as it was for many buildings during the Industrial Revolution. The structure stood for 124 years until it had outlived its usefulness and was demolished in 2015. Pioneer Millworks was able to acquire a load of Red Pine from the industrial salvage, totaling around 13,000 board feet.

When demolition of the Zanesville plant began, the original ‘American Encaustic Tile’ facades were unearthed, a reminder of one of the world’s pioneers in the tile industry. Originally founded in New York City in 1875, AETCO quickly grew and expanded operations to Zanesville. A massive producer of floor tiles, wall tiles, and accent tiles of all sizes, patterns, and colors, the Zanesville operation was considered the largest and most distinguished tile manufactory in the world at the turn of the 20th century, employing at least 1,000 people and cranking out unique ceramic tiles for homes and businesses across the nation.

AETCO bldg revealed_web

The unique features of this reclaimed Red Pine are the original paint and wear marks as well as a striped appearance created from the ceiling joists running across the underside of the floor, which left a  “shadow” when removed after a century in place. This Red Shadow Pine is celebrated for its unique character and history.

Red Pine boards_AETC_webO     Shadow Pine_web     Red_pine_matte-poly-finish_web

It is always a privilege to rescue antique wood from rot or landfills. Our reclaimed Red Shadow Pine from the AETCO plant has tones of red and yellow, with streaks of resin, numerous knots and holes, as well as minor surface cracks. The joist shadows on each plank create a striking pattern and a reminder of the wood’s former life. Some of the timbers were milled into paneling in our Farmington, New York shop for a major retailer’s project. The white paint was removed and the boards were finished with a matte Polyurethane.

About Red Pine:

During the later years of the industrial revolution, builders could not solely rely on the dwindling supply of Longleaf Yellow Pine from the Southern US. Other species of softwood timbers, such as White Pine, Red Pine, and coarse-grained species of Yellow Pine were also used based on geographic availability and lower cost. The Red Pine (Pinus Resinosa) is a native of the lake states and eastward throughout New England and southeastern Canada. It grows in a narrow zone around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and was widely used in heavy timber industrial structures within and around those regions.

  • Red Pine timber waPinus_resinosa_Itasca_webs nearly depleted during the logging heyday of the 1890’s.
  • Red Pine will normally reach a mature height of 75-100 feet.
  • The tree gets its name from its reddish-brown, scaly bark and red heartwood.
  • Red Pine has a distinct, resinous odor when being worked.
  • Red Pine is very resistant to disease and insects.
  • During the Depression in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted millions of Red Pine plantations.
  • Most of the wooden telephone poles in Michigan and surrounding states are Red Pine.
  • Itasca State Park, Minnesota’s oldest state park, is the best place to see some of the oldest Red Pines as the park features about 5,000 acres of them.


Fire & Ice: Fate of Iconic Chicago Warehouse

Photo by Reuters/John Gress

Photo by Reuters/John Gress

When fire consumed a massive historic warehouse in Chicago’s Central Manufacturing District (CMD) in 2013, flaring up repeatedly for a week while the city endured freezing temperatures, it was considered a total loss, but a large amount of the structural timbers survived the fire and ice. After demolition we procured 19,000 BF of Southern longleaf pine (also known as Heart Pine*) that originally came from old growth pine forests harvested more than a century ago.

In the early 1900s mature longleaf pine reached over 100 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

In the early 1900s mature longleaf pine reached over 100 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Heart Pine played a significant role in the construction of the world’s first industrial park, the Central Manufacturing District (CMD), a 265 acre campus in south Chicago. Development of the privately planned park began in 1905 and eventually it housed several big name companies such as Spiegel, Goodyear, Starck Piano Co., the William Wrigley Co., and Westinghouse.pullmanfactory

Among these memorable trademarks was the Pullman Couch Company, a five story warehouse designed by civil engineer and architect S. Scott Joy in 1911. You might remember the Davenport-bed? That was a Pullman product.


Pullman Couch Company remained at the CMD location through the 1950s and, while a few businesses came and went over the following four decades, the warehouse stood vacant for ten years until January of 2013 when it was annihilated by fire. It was reported to be the worst fire Chicago had seen in years, commanding over 200 firefighters to tame it. With temperatures around 10 degrees, the water spray from the fire hoses swathed everything in ice – vehicles, equipment, buildings, even the firefighters.

fire-ice-pullman_img-DavidSchalliol   fire-ice-trucks_img-Reuters:JohnGress   fire-ice-bldg_img-RobertGigliottifire-ice-waterblast_img-Reuters:JohnGressWhen demolition of the building’s scorched remains began, a frozen terra cotta insignia could be seen high up on the brick exterior of the building. fire-ice-PC-Insignia_imgLeeBeyIt was that of the Pullman Couch Company, one of the last identifiers of the 102-year-old structure that was once the powerhouse of Chicago’s industrial campus.

The timbers obtained from demolition of the Pullman Couch Company warehouse were branded with ‘Bogualusa.’ Bogalusa, Louisiana was the site of the world’s largest sawmill, run by The Great Southern Lumber Company from 1908 until 1938. The company employed more than 1,700 men at the mill plus another 1,000 men in logging camps to keep a continuous supply of logs coming in. They only harvested longleaf pine, initially processing lumber at the rate of 1,000,000 board feet per day. After 30 years the virgin longleaf pine forests in southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi were depleted and the mill ceased operation.


The historic heart pine we acquired from the former Pullman Couch Company has been used in several projects as flooring and paneling. At the time of this writing, we are wrapping up another order of our character select heart pine, this one with a walnut finish. And so the old longleaf pine timbers live on, long after the fire and ice.

psvg_heart_pine_rocking   heartpinefloor   MOD Pizza Heart Pine Paneling Web

longleaf range

Historic range of longleaf pine covered 90 million acres of southeastern coastal plains.

*According to the USDA Forest Service, longleaf pine once covered about 90 million acres of the southeastern coastal plains of the United States. Because of its quality and strength, longleaf pine lumber was a principal resource for early settlers in building ships and railroads, though it was used for just about everything from industrial buildings to furniture. It takes 30 years for longleaf pine to grow an inch and about 200 years to become mostly heartwood. Heartwood hardness comes from its resin and longleaf pine has more resin than any other species of pine. Because of its high percentage of heartwood, longleaf pine came to be called heart pine.

longleaf cutover

Cut-over longleaf pine area in Louisiana, 1930

Most of the longleaf pines were gone by the 1920s, harvested to near extinction. Today, only 3% of the original longleaf landscape remains. Restoring these forests has now become a priority in conservation efforts, particularly because there are over 30 endangered and threatened species that rely on longleaf pine for habitat. And while we can rehabilitate longleaf pine ecosystems, we will not ever have the kind of centuries-old longleaf heart pine that now exists primarily in the structural timber of industrial America.

Check out this short film on Secrets of the Longleaf Pine.

Let’s check in with our Finishing Department

IMG_8694 IMG_8692 IMG_8693

In the past five years our finishing department has grown into a well trained, well equipped, team of detail oriented professionals. This can be credited in large part to our Finishing Team Leader Steve Pettrone, who with the support and encouragement of management has deftly guided this devoted crew. SteveWith years of flooring installation experience, a strong personal environmental ethos and an easy going swagger that inspires camaraderie, Steve is quite a rock star. In addition to streamlining and updating our processes, he has proudly steered our in-house finishing options away from Tung oils and 2 part polyurethanes to the Zero VOC hard-wax oil finishes that have become the industry standard in the world of reclaimed flooring.


Steve’s newest addition to our product line is his Custom Grey, Custom White and Custom Black finishes on American Gothic Ash.

There is nothing radical about these finishes. They aren’t groundbreaking or cutting edge. They aren’t Pantone’s color of the year (though we do have plenty of custom one-off finish possibilities, but that’s another story).

pantone colors of 2016






What they are, are well tested, expertly applied, high performing finishes that will expand the tonal options available to both the cosmopolitan designer and the renovating homeowner.

In general, clients come to us looking for authenticity. That’s what reclaimed wood delivers best. The time-worn surface, the rich depth of color found in original patina and old growth wood, the nail holes and fastener marks that testify to a past life. Faux finishes make us cringe. As anyone who has worked in our sample department will tell you, nothing is lamer than receiving a request for a stain that will make red oak look like walnut. Or the request to apply some Rumplestiltskin magic to make fresh-sawn Douglas Fir look like it has weathered grey naturally for 20 years under the Wyoming sun.

We prefer the modernist tenet of remaining true to the material. But we are also aware that natural color tones – no matter how lush – are not right for every project. Our three custom finishes are complex and transparent, highlighting Ash’s tight grain pattern rather than masking it. Like your neighborhood sommelier, Steve has paired finish and wood so that each works to one another’s strength.


These custom finishes take full advantage of a product that we are very fond of: Rubio Monocoat. This hard-wax oil is favored for its ease in application, maintenance and its tested durability.

Our custom process begins with a wire-brushing to open the wood grain, a hand-applied Rubio “Pre-color” stain which gives the final finish extra depth, and a thorough denibbing which removes any raised fibers.











At this point the flooring is laid out on a platform and the oil finished is applied with a buffer. We then inspect and wipe down every board by hand and let the finish cure for 24 hours in a rack. Before it is shipped, the finished material is lined with a sheet of protective padding and then wrapped into hand bundles of approximately 25 square feet.

From start to finish, this diligent process is free of shortcuts and it results in a product that we feel is equal if not superior to any prefinished wood floor on the market. Steve is confident that you will agree.

Reclaiming from the Iconic Centennial Mills in Portland, OR

Douglas fir timbers reclaimed from Centennial Mills.

Douglas fir timbers reclaimed from Centennial Mills.

We’re salvaging 400,000 board feet of timbers and planks during the selective deconstruction of Centennial Mills in Portland, Oregon. Deconstruction of five warehouses and several old grain elevators, deemed beyond repair and unsafe, began in September 2015 and is expected to be complete by June 2016. To date, seven tractor-trailer loads of Douglas fir timbers and cribbing planks have been transported to our McMinnville, Oregon yard.

“Ideally, we’ll be working to get as much of the reclaimed material back into the Portland market as possible,” said Jonathan our president and founder. We’ll have samples on hand in our design studio in Portland, OR.

Dismantling one of the grain elevators at the mill.

Dismantling one of the grain elevators at the mill.

“Some of the wood can be re-used as heavy timber and beams, while some will be re-milled for use as paneling or flooring,” continued Jonathan. (You can read more on the history of the mill on our Unearth the Story page.)

Centennial Mills, Portland OR

Centennial Mills, Portland OR

The Centennial Mills site is owned by the Portland Development Commission (PDC) and lies within Portland’s River District urban renewal area. “Working with Pioneer Millworks enabled us to streamline the salvage process, ensure the repurposing of as much material as possible, and return funds to the project budget,” said PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton. “We view this as a very successful partnership and look forward to hearing about how and where Centennial Mills materials live on throughout the Northwest.”

Originally we hoped to salvage about 800,000 board feet of timber from the Centennial Mills site. However, due to rot and the difficult cost benefits of saving all the smaller pieces, that number has been reduced. We continue to work towards salvaging more of the wood, but politics make things sticky. The salvaged wood is of an exceptional grain quality and we’re excited to share it with our customers.

First stages of removal of a grain elevator at Centennial Mills.

First stages of removal of a grain elevator at Centennial Mills.

After passing an emergency declaration in December 2014 relating to the condition of Centennial Mills, the PDC enlisted Tigard, OR-based Northwest Demolition & Dismantling for the selective demolition and salvage of the property. Demolition of Warehouses A, B, C, D, and F as well as Elevators A, B, and C began the first week of October 2015 and is scheduled to conclude in June 2016. The subsequent phase is slated to begin in July 2016.

If you’re interested in helping keep some of this historic wood in Portland, or if you have a great project that will give it new life, let us know. We’d be happy to provide samples.