Julie and I just returned from a very long week in Boston representing Pioneer Millworks the Greenbuild Expo. To any of you we met there at the show ( And there were A LOT of you! ) we thank you for coming by our booth and saying hello. It was a great show to say the least – we met HUNDREDS of people, got to see some cutting edge green technologies, and show of our new engineered flooring. Needless to say, our new product was a big hit – and why wouldn’t it be? We’ve taken the best FSC plywood around, and combined it with a thick wear layer of 100% reclaimed wood, to create a floor that will easily last as long as its solid counterpart.

Glue it to concrete! Install it over radiant heat! Put it in a basement! It truly is a remarkable & versatile flooring material, and we’re proud to be the first company to step up to the plate and make it the RIGHT way – OUR way, and right here in the USA.

If you “got scanned” at the show ( those cell phone scanners were so cool! ) you’ll be getting a link to our digital catalog in the coming few days, in addition to some other cool information. We’re as green of a company as they come, so we’ll keep it to e-mail rather than paper & snail mail. But, in case you missed us, or if you just can’t wait to see some beauty-shots of our flooring, you can download the catalog right now!

We’re excited about some upcoming events as well, so mark your calendar:

February 3 – 5, 2009, Jered will be roaming Surfaces – glad to meet you in Vegas to talk about our materials, just drop me a line!

May 14 – 16, 2009, we’ll have a sweet booth set up at HD Expo where you can visit with us and see our reclaimed wood, and some stellar woodworking from New Energy Woodworks.

November 10 – 12, 2009, we’re back at Greenbuild, this time in Phoenix, AZ. I don’t know about you, but 80 degrees sure beats 10 degree wind-chills in November!

Thanks for checking back – time to relax on my own couch, enjoy a winter brew, and watch the snow pile up outside. Anyone wanna come shovel in the morning?

– Jered


Back in August, my hometown of Geneva, NY ( about 30 minutes from Pioneer Millworks shop )was over-run by camera crews, celebrities, contractors, and spectators as ABC’s “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” came to town to surprise the Hill Family with a new home. There had been rumors abound for several weeks that the show was coming to Geneva, but there was no sign of activity until the weekend before as a demolition crew quietly rolled into town and set up camp up the street, and the front yard of a suspect house was flagged with utility markers. Sure enough, the next morning “the bus” pulled up, and the family was informed that they’d return to town a week later to find a new home where their old one stood. As an added bonus, the community boxing program the homeowner had helped start would be getting a brand new gymnasium behind the house, where a dilapidated barn stood for years.

This set was the opposite of the kitchen I worked on in Philadelphia. If you have never seen “Extreme Home Makeover”, there appears to be hundreds of people working round the clock on all facets of construction, building a house from the ground up in a week. The truth is, there ARE hundreds of people, they DO work round the clock, and they complete the house in about 4 1/2 DAYS! Since the house was less than 2 blocks from my home, we naturally took an interest in the project. Its hard not to when the streets are clogged with spectators all through daylight hours!

I volunteered on the Friday afternoon of the build to help with carpentry. Upon arrival on the site, I went to work with a crew working on the front porch of the house. Over the next 8 hours, I worked with folks from all over upstate New York, from quite diverse backgrounds, to build the porch and install the drainage system. Just about sunset, word came to us that the final piece of the roof framing had to be set right away so the crane could be moved off the site. As the crane lifted everything into place, the cameras started coming from everywhere as this was a crowning moment in the construction process. It was quite an experience working in that hectic of an environment with a crew of 20 guys I had never met before. But the sense of camaraderie and purpose kept everyone going, and kept spirits high no matter what happened. With my blue shirt dirtied up from the day’s work, I headed home about 9pm to finally get some dinner and rest. Though Pioneer Millworks doesn’t have any wood in this house, it has the energy running through it of the hundreds of volunteers that were a part of bringing the house to completion in such a short amount of time. Bus drivers, cleaners, caterers, local police, and so many more all played a part in getting things done and ready for the big reveal the following Monday. I had a blast being a part of it, and I suggest anyone that has the opportunity to work on one of these houses go for it – you won’t regret it. The episode aired last night ( Sunday 11/2/08 ), and you probably saw me – I was the guy in the blue shirt & hardhat.

The reality is that very little of the construction was shown on television – much of the time is devoted to the story of the family, and giving product placement to those companies that donated to the show in a big way.

Pioneer Millworks
was not a part of this episode, as many of the design decisions are made weeks and months in advance to keep on-site decisions to a minimum, and progress to the max.

One thing that was pointed out on the show was the use of color in the kids’ rooms. Too often, reclaimed wood is viewed as rustic and rugged. But the truth is, a splash of color on our wood can make a very cool accent, or a theme for a room. Orange, Red, Blue, Green – they’re all available in low VOC and eco-friendly oil & wax finishes. Our favorite wood for this is our Southern Yellow Pine but any of them can work great. Give us a call – ask for some samples – we’ll steer you in the right direction, no matter how “Extreme” you want to go.

Thanks for reading – talk to you soon.

– Jered


The Magic of Hollywood

Pioneer Millworks has been blessed with a lot of media attention this year. We’ve supplied flooring and other materials for a few projects that you’ll see on television in the coming months.

Spice Up Your Kitchen came to us earlier this year with an ambitious project schedule, and a pretty cool little project. They asked Pioneer Millworks to provide the flooring for a small row-house kitchen re-model in a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. We were more than happy to put together some Character Select Heart Pine for the occasion and get it on its way. A few phone calls later, and they asked Jennifer Young, our Marketing Director, and I to come down to the site as resident flooring experts. A few more phone calls later, and we were asked to help install the floor on camera. Jennifer has a very talented & entertainment-oriented family ( her twin boys star in the upcoming film, “They Came From Upstairs“, hitting theaters in January! ) so she’s used to cameras being around. I had not worked in front of a camera though, save for a couple interviews by local television about 12 years ago!

The pace is quite slow in comparison to a typical flooring installation. Working with host carpenter Jeff Devlin, I ended up installing the floor with him and the homeowner through the course of the day. There was a lot of stop and go, re-takes, and quickly rehearsed lines, but it was a lot of fun. We started by laying a border strip at the edge of the living room, leading into the small kitchen. From there, we worked back into the space, having a heck of a time cutting some special pieces to fit around a curved bottom stair riser. The builder, who remains off camera during the entire process, worked with us as well, cutting material out on the sidewalk to keep the dust down inside. Amazing the things you have to think of when shooting for TV!

This was a great opportunity to work with our flooring right along side other professionals, and see how they reacted to our product. Compliments came throughout the day about the milling, the finishing, and the character of the wood. In fact, Jeff was caught hugging & kissing a plank because it was so beautiful to him. The homeowner was there helping to select some choice planks for the middle of the room where they would be the most visible. Thats the fun part of installing our wood, picking out the coolest looking pieces and placing them where you know you’ll see them forever. But as I told them, you’ll walk down the stairs every day for the res of your life on this floor, and every time, you’ll notice something new. The Heart Pine floors we produce are fluid, almost alive, in the way their grain & character dance.

Salvaged from the McCormick Harvester tractor plant in Rock Island, IL, the wood held up the structure of a factory that chruned out hundreds of thousands of tractors. Chances are, if you eat vegetables, they were farmed by one of these tractors at some point! The factory stood vacant after production ceased a fea years ago, and when it was finally demolished, over 90% of the building was recycled. Bricks, steel, glass, timber, and all! The historical character of the wood will mesh perfectly with the new kitchen. You can see the episode October 28th at 8:30pm on HGTV.

Check out Pioneer Millworks and see the flooring we used on the Philadelphia project – we’ve got some great pricing available on this classic Heart Pine. Thanks for checking out the blog, and stop back again soon – something’s always cookin.

– Jered


Use what’s on hand

I was in my kitchen the other night trying to put together dinner, while my boys were running around the house chasing each other, and my wife was trying to relax for a moment on the couch. I had some nice red potatoes and pole beans from the farmers market, some Tilapia fillets, and some fresh herbs from the garden. I managed to turn it all into something fun: panko-crusted Tilapia strips, with garlic smashed potatoes, and sauteed beans. No tartar sauce could be found though, so my wife put some together with some mayo and relish. I’m telling you, your kids will devour the fish – and its way better for you and your taste buds than boxed fish sticks!

Anyway, as I sat back afterward looking at empty plates & happy faces, I got to thinking about how the meal was put together using what was on-hand. The concept seems almost too simple. After all, why would you run out to the store for one thing, if you can make it work with another? When we don’t use what is on hand, it costs time, energy, and money. The same concept applies to us in the world of reclaimed wood.

Every day we get calls from designers, builders, and homeowners that want to find a special floor. Be it super-wide reclaimed Oak, or exceptionally clear Heart Pine, we can usually consider any request. The fun begins though when you put your trust in our hands – we’re a creative bunch here, you know. We can see the beauty in a material long before the first nail is pulled, and guide you through options that you might not think of.

We often have smaller batches of wood that are incredibly special, whether it is a unique source, texture, species, etc. A restaurant owner came to us a few months back looking for a floor that would go into Apotheke ( say Ah-Po-Teek), a hip new establishment in New York City’s Chinatown. While they knew they liked our Attic Collection from a past project, they remained open to our suggestions on how to integrate our reclaimed wood into an old parquet-style floor. The first material that came to mind was a small batch of Heart Pine joists that had come in from a warehouse in Pennsylvania. The joists were wide enough to yield a 9″ floorboard, and they could retain all of the original patina & subtle texture from their previous life. Working with the designer, we produced a floor from these boards that was all 36″ long and able to be arranged in a “standard pattern”. The results speak for themselves:

I’ll be there for a drink, how about you?

Putting your trust Pioneer Millworks us allows our shop to create a truly custom floor for you. But the decision to use what is readily available doesn’t have to be quite as involved as this project. In most cases, we can produce a floor using simple changes, such as different species or widths, that will still get you the same quality of floor with a very similar appearance. You’ll end up with a floor worth bragging about, and you’ll know that we conserved resources by using what was on-hand.

Thanks for checking back to the blog. As for the “Tilapia Panko”, as my kids call it, drop me an e-mail at if you want the recipe….Or to talk reclaimed wood.