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A Letter For the New Decade

A Letter from the Founder of 

New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks

The end of one decade marks the beginning of the next. I, for one, don’t have a language that embraces this expanse of years. Both New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks have changed and will change a bit more. As I sat to write this, I stopped to reflect on all of the work we’ve done over the last 10 years and it really gave me pause.


My daughter Sierra, who works with us in Pioneer, recently asked,”Dad, did you ever imagine that these companies would grow so large?” I hadn’t really. Yet, it’s not that I DIDN’T think such a thing. We work hard every day, do the best we can, follow our hearts and gosh, we find ourselves…here.


Today we are over 130 craftsmen, artisans, designers,and makers. 


Yet the feel of the place remains personal. I like this about us. We know our coworkers, our clients, our partners. When you call, a person answers, and that person now is most likely an owner. We officially became an employee-owned (ESOP) company in 2018 and this means that the folks who have long acted like owners, are actually owners. They can partake more fully in the rewards, have their voice truly heard, and be part of their own work-life destiny. This transition makes sense to me.


We have doubled down on our commitment to the Triple Bottom Line.

I remain convinced that businesses like ours can make the difference we need: a world that places a more sustainable earth and a more evenly shared economy on equal footing with earnings. We’ve known with absolute certainty that everything we do, every choice we make needs to take the environmental impacts into consideration. This was our planet’s hottest decade ever recorded; it is imperative that we continue to push forward, to do all we can to shift the winds to help our home, our Earth.


We particularly believe that in today’s global political climate of fomented hate, an independent media under attack, and the effects of climate change ignored, business can and must be a major part of the needed solutions. The Triple Bottom Line gives equal importance to People, Planet, and Profit. Think of a three-legged stool. Think of balance.


Ahead is this new decade. We have some goals and predictions.


“I predict that by the end of the 20’s we will be different 

than we are now. (Brilliant, eh?)”


But really, here is some of what we know:



+ At a recent leadership retreat, we tried hard to understand exactly what defines our sometimes chaotic, always exciting, quirky and hardworking company. These four tenets started to feel right in explaining who we are:

+ The Power of Design

+ The Expertise of Process

+ The Science of Performance

+ The Beauties of Wood


These are big ideas, large concepts. They make sense to us.


+ We’ll continue to practice and innovate in timber framing. This remains our powerful heart. A day at a raising still lifts a lot more than a post or a beam.


+ Our design + build team continues to grow. Every time I walk through another home we have built from scratch and see the integration of all we do: design, frame, carpentry, woodworking, and flooring, I’m reminded how I once wondered if the building-end made sense for us. Not sure what I was thinking.


+ We have long led the industry in dry and stable timbers and in 2020 we’re excited to be adding Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)®certification timbers as a standard. We are also working with the cross-laminated timbers (CLTs), the structural wood panel system from Europe.


+ Pioneer Millworks‘ work with crazy reclaimed and sustainably harvested wood goes on. We’re at 31 million board feet of good wood recovered, and still in love. We’re now adding more FSC-certified® and family-farm harvested fresh wood products, like pre-finished larch siding, shou sugi ban paneling, eastern hardwoods of our Modern Farmhouse Collection, and coming soon, rift and quartersawn white oak. With all of these woods we will continue to make paneling and flooring, as well as fine cabinets, doors, and stairs in NEWwoodworks.


+ Our investments in semi-automated wall and roof equipment is scheduled to arrive from the Netherlands to our western New York facility in June and sometime later to our Oregon shop. This represents perhaps our largest new-decade change. We’ve built our Matrix Wall™ High Performance Enclosures since 1993. This commitment to energy and resource-efficient building will continue to grow with the new lines, just when builders, homeowners, and our planet needs it most. Keep an eye this over the next year.


Thanks for reading this, thanks for being a part of our community, thanks for your interest. It is because of folks like you that we have grown, innovated, and prospered. We wish the best for you and your family, and your various communities.


Happy New Year, Happy New Decade.


Jonathan Orpin, Founder and President

New Energy Works

Pioneer Millworks