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?

interior-jail

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.

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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.

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

Reclaimed Gym Flooring and Bleachers Puts Eco-Minded School Design Firm Ahead of the Class

Original gym flooring with reclaimed bleacher boards add character to the Ashley McGraw office in Syracuse, NY.

Original gym flooring with reclaimed bleacher boards add character to the Ashley McGraw office in Syracuse, NY.

We teamed up with a local architectural and interior design firm in Syracuse, NY  to make their workspace a little more playful for employees. Ashley McGraw Architects collaborated with us to bring reclaimed gym flooring and bleacher boards into their snazzy, newly remodeled office space.

The material was sourced from Geneva Middle School, just 55 miles from Ashley McGraw and 28 miles from our headquarters in Farmington, NY. “Sourcing this so close to our headquarters, from a gym I played sports in, was remarkable,” shares Jered, one of our reclaimed wood experts. “When Ashley McGraw reached out looking for reclaimed wood for their office remodel, I knew immediately that we had the right product. It is a great fit and it feels good when a local company gives reclaimed wood a second life.”

The gym flooring was reclaimed by Pioneer Millworks from Geneva Middle School in Geneva, NY.

Tony de-nails the gym flooring on-site as we reclaimed it from Geneva Middle School in Geneva, NY. While the planks are checked again at our mill, this initial de-nailing made packaging and shipping much more efficient.

Our friends at Ashley McGraw specialize in school design and were excited to bring iconic school building materials into their space. (They cherish their memories of sometimes winning a game of dodgeball and finding an okay square dancing partner.) The office remodel utilized Geneva Middle School bleachers and gym flooring. Original surfaces were maintained allowing the mixture of court lines and varying school-spirited colors to be celebrated. “It looks like confetti!” said Susan Angarano, Interior Designer with the firm. Tonal differences in the wood from the various schools helped create a border from the circulation spaces into the office areas at the company. Bleacher boards (sans bubble gum) were incorporated as screen walls and ceiling accents.

We salvaged the hard maple flooring and Douglas fir bleachers from the 1920s gymnasium during the building’s deconstruction last spring. As always, special attention was given to maintaining the original appearance of the wood, including surface finishes, bolt-holes, colors, and milling.

Reclaimed from educational institutions across the country, gym flooring can be re-installed as is, with the color schemes creating a random and playful reminder of its source.

Reclaimed from educational institutions across the country, gym flooring can be re-installed as is, with the color schemes creating a random and playful reminder of its source.

“Gym flooring is one of our most colorful reclaimed products with a history most folks quickly relate to,” says Jered. The painted planks from the gymnasium were sorted from the others and used in the circulation spaces of the office, while the remainder of flooring from two other schools was used in the materials library. The old gym flooring has varying lengths, some up to five feet long while the bleachers boards are up to sixteen feet long.

Reclaimed oak boards were used for wall cladding in the break room.

Reclaimed oak boards were used for wall cladding in the break room.

We’ve certainly found likeness in our commitment to sustainability and conserving the world’s resources. “Every day, we challenge ourselves to embrace the possibility of a fully sustainable world,” states Ashley McGraw. “Our contribution is schools and campuses that respect, support, and nurture the learning experience and work in concert with the earth and its resources.”

David Ashley and Ed McGraw founded Ashley McGraw Architects in Syracuse in 1981. Their work includes classrooms, laboratories, recreational, and residential buildings, as well as sustainability strategies and master plans for public and private primary, intermediate, secondary, and high education facilities.

Reclaimed oak boards were used for wall cladding in the entry way.

Reclaimed oak boards were used for wall cladding in the entry way.

A tour of reclaimed Chestnut Hill

Jered took a recent trip to Boston and stopped at Chestnut Hill mall to check out our reclaimed wood in its new home. Here’s what he found:

When you walk up to Anthropologie, you’re greeted by doors made of a mixture of Douglas fir and Cypress milled from wood reclaimed from wine vats. That same wood accents select areas of the store as flooring. Our sister company, NEWwoodworks, created a shelving unit made of reclaimed American Gothic Oak.

Anthropologie entrance with wine vat stock siding.

Anthropologie entrance with wine vat stock siding.

 

NWW AG Oak shelves

Anthropologie American Gothic Oak shelving.

Fir Cypress flooring

Anthropologie wine vat stock flooring.

Anthropologie wine vat stock flooring.

Anthropologie wine vat stock flooring.

Madewell features Character Select Heart Pine flooring that has no finishing on it, though some is painted white as part of their more recent designs.

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Character Select Heart Pine at Madewell.

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Character Select Heart Pine at Madewell.

Next up is Eileen Fisher, where the ladies working there told Jered they get lots of love for the floor. The flooring is Engineered American Gothic Elm which has been stained and refinished on site.

AG Elm

American Gothic Elm flooring.

The new Basset Store features FSC Certified Red Oak siding that has been heavily brushed and primed in our shop then finished in the field.

FSC Red Oak

FSC Certified Red Oak siding at Basset.

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FSC Certified Red Oak siding at Basset.

We’re excited to see our ‘old’ wood getting new life in Boston. Jered had a good time visiting (he said something about the best cannolis in the country?!) and is already gearing up to go back in late Fall. We’ll be sure to share more!