Get our newsletters

For Solebury woodworker, sustainability is “Paramount”

Posted

Can a person be both a carpenter and a tree hugger? This describes Colin Thompson perfectly. A furniture maker, or more accurately, an artist whose medium is wood, Colin has pledged never to fell a healthy tree. He makes use of only fallen trees and those that have been damaged by storms. This is one of many things that sets his business — Paramount Wood Company — apart from other woodworking companies.

The oak was in the acorn when Colin was born. His family traditionally had two great passions: cars and carpentry. His grandfather, Jack Thompson, was founder of the Thompson Organization and a big fan of car racing. Both his father and grandfather taught Colin fundamental woodworking techniques in a shop on the family farm that he would initially use for his own personal projects and to make holiday gifts.

Eventually these mastered skills would lead to a full-time livelihood for the Pennridge High School graduate. Later he would get more formal training through five years of studying the work of George Nakashima.

But first he would have an incredible 10-year professional racing career. When asked why he stopped racing, Colin is candid. “Like many sports today, top-level racers were being bought out of their careers by wealthy families undeserving of professional positions on track. This took the authenticity of the sport away for me. After witnessing many friends lose their careers, I made the hard decision to walk away.”

Paramount Wood Company in Solebury was founded in February 2020 with no employees. Today, it’s a team of eight, following the acquisition of the globally respected Jeffrey Greene Design Studio.

Colin describes Ryan Taylor, his very first employee as having “an unrivaled skill set as our master woodworker.” Lisa Schmidt is “our incredible office manager.” And Zach Berger “leads our amazing group of artisans in the shop.”

While Paramount is most associated with traditional furniture making, Colin hastens to tell me its range is much wider than that.

“Earlier this year, we were commissioned to take apart a Maserati for a client, where we turned the front seats into office chairs, four brake calipers and rotors into wall clocks, and the engine into a coffee table.”

Though Colin has feared in the past that wood handcrafting was a dying art, he believes it is making a comeback now in great part because of companies like his own that espouse a new philosophy.

“We believe in an approach to furniture that simply cannot be done in a factory,” he said. “We utilize modern techniques, fused with classic woodworking approaches to create unique artistic furniture where the handmade attention to detail is clearly seen in the end result.”

Ecology is always at the center of business decisions. Paramount’s mission is to replant the world, Colin says. Paramount pledges that for every piece created, 10 trees are planted. They work exclusively with mills that source their lumber ethically and sustainably.

As far as location, Bucks County is the only place Colin wants to be. He says this area is a unique home for woodworkers for a very specific reason.

“We have among the widest biodiversity of hardwood trees globally as far as woodworking goes,” he said. “This gives our area an incredible opportunity to use locally sourced materials, in contrast to relying on importing materials, or worse, working with tree farms.”

Paramount Wood Company is located at 6162 Lower York Road in Solebury Township. Its hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends by appointment.

Are you making a living doing something unique? Has your career taken a sharp turn in the direction of your dreams? Tell us about it in an email to herald@buckscountyherald.com. Put “It’s a Living with Lisa” in the subject line.


X