- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Pioneer Millworks has been providing unique, sustainable and reclaimed wood products since 1989 when its sister company, New Energy Works, a leading timber frame company, discovered the benefits of using reclaimed timber. Today Pioneer serves the nation from its headquarters in Farmington, New York, as well as a West Coast location in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
“We realized we were good at this and started working with demolition contractors, farmers and landowners,” says Jennifer Young, general manager of Pioneer. “Now the demand has grown and so has the competition.”
To stand apart from other reclaimed wood suppliers, Young and her colleagues strive to provide premier selection and service. “From a product standpoint, we have the largest inventory in volume and different types of wood,” she explains. “We have a full-time acquisition team that scours the Earth to find wood. While some companies only deal in reclaimed exotics or heart pine, we run the gamut. Agricultural, industrial, food, transportation – there are so many sources. Designers get really excited when they talk to our wood experts because we have just about anything that anyone would want.”
Between upstate New York and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Pioneer employs approximately 60 people, many of whom wear multiple hats between the wood supplier and its sister company. The team caters primarily to architects, designers and builders.
“The architect specifies our products, but the contractors buy from us,” Young clarifies. “We do more retail commercial and hospitality work than residential, although we do have a significant share of the home market. We work with interior designers and architects designing for a residential market, but our core is comprised of national rollouts or region rollouts of restaurants, office buildings and retail stores.”
Some of the country’s leading architects, designers and contractors have come to rely on Pioneer for the company’s broad inventory, consistent supply and enduring expertise. With a longevity that surpasses competitors with flying colors, these loyal customers know that Pioneer will be around for years to come with high quality, durable products and leading service.
“All of our wood experts have interior design backgrounds,” notes Young. “They don’t just have a love and passion for reclaimed wood; they have a strong sense of design. People appreciate this because we can marry the tangible component with their vision through high-touch, intelligent service. We’re not just supplying a commodity product; we’re highly customized in our offerings. You can’t provide a custom product without being hands-on and I think that really sets us apart. Once people start working with us, they come back time and time again.”
Over the years, the company has provided a range of sustainable and reclaimed wood products to projects all over the country. Recent work includes supplying one of Boston’s oldest universities with engineered flooring for a historic dormitory. The LEED-certified project required a fully engineered, low-VOC product, which Pioneer delivered.
“We offer both salvaged and freshly harvested sustainable products so we’re not limited, although 90 percent is reclaimed,” says Young. “It was a large project and they chose us because we were within 500 miles of their facility and we were one of the few companies that fully manufactures in the U.S. in a way that is healthy for employees, community and planet.”
The business also provided high-quality, mixed hardwood for a project at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Another LEED project, this contract required an aesthetic and green solution for wall paneling. Pioneer’s Settlers’ Plank mixed hardwoods were the perfect fit.
One of the most memorable projects for the Pioneer team has been a smaller undertaking. “We had an order at one point for foundry maple flooring for a homeowner,” Young elaborates. “We’re FSC-certified, we keep track of everything. The client called us and asked what factory her flooring came from. When we told her she started crying because it was the same factory her deceased father had worked in for his entire career.”
Greener every year
Pioneer maintains strong relationships with clients and continues to introduce new products to better meet their needs. At the 2015 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, the company is highlighting new products.
“We are working on custom finishes right now and this year we have rolled out our Prairie Board, Mushroom Wood and Vat Stock lines,” Young explains. “The Vat Stock is cherry in tone, but is actually Douglas fir. This new Vat 35 is available in four grades: center cut, patina, patina interior and as-found. The Mushroom Board is hemlock and is available in a deep brown patina with a smooth surface or highly textured surface.”
Young and her colleagues look forward to the Greenbuild Expo every year. The 2015 conference in Washington, D.C., presents yet another opportunity to network and discover new technology. “We’re sincere in what we do,” Young adds. “Every year, this conference renews our commitment and we get to interact with like-minded greenies and potential customers that share our ethos. It reminds us where our roots are. We’re in this to build in a more environmentally friendly way. In the end, our customers buy our product because the textures and hues meet their vision. They choose us because we are a socially and environmentally grounded company.”
Over the coming years, Pioneer plans to stay true to this mission. While remaining ahead of the curve in design, the crew will also continue to strive for constant improvement of products and practices, while working to educate the market.
With a team of green-thinking employees and a growing line of low-impact products, Pioneer Millworks continues to lead the way in reclaimed and sustainable wood.
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