By Jamie Larson
The Hudson Company
Hudson Company flooring in a private home in Ancram, New York. Photo by Garrett Rowland.
, based out of a mill and showroom in Pine Plains New York, is quietly making some of the best reclaimed wood flooring and siding produced anywhere. That’s why so many major institutions, including the new Whitney Museum of American Art
, hotels and restaurants are designing their spaces with the Hudson Company's involvement. But it’s not just the public space — their work in home interior design in our region and beyond can be equally jaw dropping.
The floor in the Whitney Museum of American Art by The Hudson Company. Photo by Gentle & Hyers.
The craft of reshaping wood from an old barn into character-rich flooring and siding that works in modern design contexts is dizzyingly complex. But that’s what the market demanded, and Hudson Company owner Jamie Hammel, who formerly worked in the corporate world for major companies including NBC and Conde Nast, saw an opportunity to fill an unmet need.
In 2009 he bought the Antique and Vintage Woods of America company and completely reshaped and rebranded the business. One of the most important changes he made was that instead of outsourcing milling work, he moved the mill into the Pine Plains warehouse so his team could increase the technical quality of every aspect of the process. The result is an impressive catalogue of hundreds of specialized and perfected products. And if you don’t see exactly what you want, they will do it custom.
A stunning private home in Millbrook, New York. Photo by Gentle & Hyers.
“I just thought there was a unique opportunity to increase the standard of the industry,” says Hammel, who just finished moving the company's NYC showroom from Brooklyn to Manhattan. “The market evolved. People used to want antique wood, but there wasn’t much control over what you got. That doesn’t fly with our clients. We insure the quality and level of ‘defect’ to very specific degrees.”
Hammel says his clients, whether they are on Park Avenue or in Amenia, don’t just want old wood, they want wood with character in a very customized way. The market has also demanded pre-finished flooring. This wood can be hard to finish, especially after installation, so in 2012, The Hudson Company started refinishing in-house as well. Another complication is that the source material is finite, so Hammel's crew has become creative. They now gather material from mushroom farms, which grow their crop on wood that gets uniquely textured during the natural process. They have also started a process applying veneers of reclaimed wood to new planks in an effort to save product and now even mill some new lumber.
Hudson Company custom flooring in a home in Amenia, New York. Photo by Nils Schlebusch.
“It’s an art and a science,” Hammel says. “From start to finish we’ve crafted the floor for you. Because we are so custom, every job requires spontaneity and improvisation. We like to fill the role on a project as materials consultant so clients and designers can fulfill their vision. It’s our job to deliver exactly what they’re looking for.”
That’s easier said than done when the raw materials are gnarled old planks, some too deteriorated to use and all filled with old nails.
Jerry Woods, who’s been with The Hudson Company since almost the beginning, pulls all metal out and grades it for the first time. Some pieces he decides just aren’t usable. Then they go into the kiln to dry, and there’s some loss there too, as boards split, crack or even explode. There’s a second grading before they are planed on the manufacturing line and are finally graded a third time. Fifty percent of the wood they salvage is lost to the process even with their improved efficiency.
A Manhattan kitchen featuring some of The Hudson Company's lighter colored flooring, which is particularly in fashion at the moment.
Most of the wood the company produces is custom milled specifically for a particular job, but The Hudson Company also carries a selection of stock on hand. Prices range from as low as $7.50 a square foot to $35 a square foot for the most intricate design patterns and rarest materials. (If you are looking for a really good deal — you heard it here first — The Hudson Company will hold its first clearance sale August 16-19, at the Pine Plains mill. It’s an excellent opportunity to grab up materials for small projects, with items starting at a dollar and products priced as low as 75 percent off.)
The visitors center and gallery at Art Omi in Ghent, New York.
“Several years ago there were two kinds of clients,” Hammel says. “There was the pristine Park Avenue style, where it’s such a clean finish it almost doesn’t look like wood, and then there was the super rustic style — the more character the better. We’ve found those worlds are colliding. People want that character but with a professional finish.”
Their biggest job, and arguably the biggest in the reclaimed industry, was the floor The Hudson Company milled for the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Another detail in the Millbrook home. Photo by Gentle & Hyers.
“The Whitney Museum was a tremendous project for us,” Hammel says. “It was all reclaimed from the Philip Morris factory. That floor has gone viral, as much as a floor can go viral. We hear from people who want to reproduce that floor.”
The gallery floor is the largest repurposed wood floor in the country and has put the Hudson Company’s work at the top tier of the industry. Other work includes the Jewish Museum, Public House, and 1 Hotel Central Park. They'll also soon provide the finishing touches on the High Line, another extremely visible display of their craftsmanship.
Being able to supply a product that’s so naturally textured but also extremely consistent and customizable has really made the company a go-to for these major projects... as well as, perhaps, your own kitchen floor.
“Day to day, it’s sometimes hard to step back and appreciate everything we’ve done so far, but I'm proud we're preserving aspects from these old structures and that people get a chance to really appreciate them again,” Hammel says. “Above all, I’m proud we're making something in the state of New York. We aren’t a big business but we are the second largest employer in Pine Plains and we're offering our employees benefits. This team is doing great work.”
The Hudson Company
2290 Rte. 199, Pine Plains, NY
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.