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Spotlight: Hudson J Hart and Big Timberworks, Inc.

Hudson Hart Big Timberworks

Hudson Hart

Hudson J Hart is Co-CEO (along with Mike Larson) of Big Timberworks, Inc., in Gallatin Gateway, Montana.  Hudson describes Big Timberworks (or as Hudson calls it, BT) as “a group of talented craftsmen & craftswomen. We enjoy the opportunities to be involved in a wide range of projects. We are an employee owned co-op since 1999 and we run a full service sawmill, metal shop, and fine wood products shop.”   And Hudson continues on to describe some of what makes Big Timberworks unique: “Most of our staff are owners. Also, because we have our own inventory of wood, sawmill, metal shop, we can be quick to start projects, and offer in-house services that most other TF shops just don’t have.”

We asked Hudson about the history of Big Timberworks, and he told us:” BT was founded by Merle Adams in 1983 out of a desire to build homes using time honored traditions of timber framing as he had been previously building log stacks and he found that to be wasteful in material and extremely problematic due to what logs do as they season. Merle, my brother-in-law, hired me in 1994, so his wife, (my sister) could finally have a sibling living near her in Montana. I came from the hotel industry, where I wanted to get away from the 24/7 type of industry that is. I started pulling nails as BT was already 4 years into the use of reclaimed timber (commercial salvage fir). I quickly moved into the TF shop and learned everything I could from the many talented people BT had. After approx. 5 years I was asked to take on doing the TF project bidding and began to manage the TF shop as well. When Merle died myself and Mike Larson, our long time sawmill manager, moved into the roles of Co-CEO’s.”

Big Timberworks

Hudson explained to us the types of projects in which Big Timberworks specializes. He said BT specializes in the use of reclaimed timber, whether As-Is, or band sawn, or S4S.  We have also built hundreds of radius timbers primarily for bottom chords of trusses. BT has really perfected this process as we typically only use a timber that is 2” deeper than the finished depth of the radius timber called for.”

Big Timberworks offers timber design services, timber framing, wood furniture, custom metalwork, and has a reclaimed lumber sawmill.  We wondered if those different aspects of the industry have ever come together in one project. Hudson replied: “Yes. The last project Merle designed was a barn to be used as an event center. Every shop under our BT roof was involved in the event barn project. Then to bring it all together, the year after Merle died, his son Seth, celebrated his wedding day in the very space his father designed. It was a spectacular night.”

Since most of Big Timberworks’ projects involved reclaimed lumber, we asked about where they source it from, and if there are pieces with a known history. Hudson told us “Our reclaimed timber comes from all across the US and Canada, primarily from old commercial buildings that have outlasted their intended use. I recall one client who was interested to know where her timbers came from. When I told her they were from New Jersey, and specifically from the Trojan plant, she replied, “I wish you would have made up a different story”.”

Big Timberworks North Carolina project

North Carolina project

Many of Big Timberworks’ projects are complex, and we asked Hudson to recall one that was especially memorable. He replied  “One of the biggest project challenges that I recall was entitled “Haraka Haraka”. Translated is hurry hurry. BT was on this project from Jan. 2014 thru and beyond Apr. 2016. Located in the hills above Lake Toxaway, NC. is an incredible home designed by Platt Architecture, PA. BT used As-Is fir timbers for all of the roof members and horizontal beams, and Alaskan yellow cedar “snag” logs for all of the columns. There were five raising trips, with the final trip requiring a six-man crew for five straight weeks. Compound joinery with all of the natural material was quite labor intensive. In typical BT fashion, our crew pulled it off. I think they even surprised themselves.”

Band sawn reclaimed pavilion trusses

When we asked Hudson to describe some of the difficulties in completing a project of the nature of the ones they are involved in, he said that there are “Too many options for the consumer to choose from, and most do not have enough understanding on the front end to make a decision they feel great about. Education might be my most important job with our potential customers. I take that role very seriously, and I really enjoy it, especially when the light bulb goes on in their mind's eye!”

When we asked Hudson to describe his biggest gratifications from Big Timberworks, he said “What stands out to me through all of the years I have been involved with BT, is all of the relationships I have gained with co-workers, architects, contractors, homeowners, and vendors. Some of these relationships have molded me into the person I am today, and I am extremely grateful to be doing something I truly love doing!”

Big Timberworks logo

If you want to find out more about Big Timberworks, here is some contact information:

You can email Hudson at hudson@bigtimberworks.com

Website: www.bigtimberworks.com

Address: P.O. Box 368 / 1 Rabel Lane

Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730


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