Greg Glasnow, founder of Aged Timber, IS a legend in the high-end wood flooring industry. Today he overseas the operations of our Arizona production facility and his story below speaks to the incredible experience he brings to RCP.
Finishing is in Greg Glasnow’s blood. As a boy, Greg spent every summer working with his grandfather in his antique carriage restoration business in Northern California’s wine country. A trained pharmacist who coupled his knowledge of chemistry with his love for wood finishing, Greg’s grandfather developed a number of special antiquing techniques using natural acids, tannins and salts to make wood look authentically old. Greg describes his grandfather as an ‘alchemist,’ working magic with wood that could quickly turn a new piece of Oak into a 100 year old artifact.
Greg likes to tell the story of one of the jobs his grandfather assigned him to, which was to follow their horses around with a ladle and bucket. He had to wait for them to urinate, and then quickly collect the urine that had pooled in the hoof prints, to be used later in one of his grandfather’s favorite recipes. That process involved digging a trench in the dirt to fit an Oak carriage replacement part. They would then partly fill the trench with manure, place the wood into the manure, ladle urine over it, add crushed Walnut shells (for extra tannin), cover it with manure, and then bury the part completely for two or three days. When they would dig it up, the Oak would ‘magically’ look 100 years old.
The techniques and recipes that Greg’s grandfather taught him, some of which he still uses today, are the original versions of what are now known as ‘reactive stains.’ These are natural chemicals that create color in the wood from within by reacting with the naturally occurring compounds in the wood, rather than painting over the grain with pigment that hides its natural beauty. Greg no longer uses horse urine, but the collection of proprietary reactive stain recipes that he has developed over the years does include one called ‘Stinky.’ Don’t worry – the smell is long gone by the time the floor is finished.
Greg’s grandfather also taught him the finer points of finishing with a variety of different durable wood coatings, a knowledge that he took with him when he first entered the wood flooring business at the age of 18. Greg had his own flooring retail store for a time, but quickly realized that his real passion was in working with the wood, so he sold his store and founded Acorn flooring, a custom finishing and installation business in Los Angeles. With Acorn, Greg’s reputation as a true master grew, and over the decades he became the premiere high-end custom installation and finishing contractor in the L.A. market, servicing celebrities and Hollywood’s business elite in both luxury homes and high-end commercial spaces. “Working with designers on projects with virtually limitless budgets, I was lucky to have the opportunity to experiment and really refine my techniques,” says Greg. Serving that clientele, Greg developed a keen understanding for what high-end customers are looking for, and what they will and will not accept. “We had to be the best of the best. Every job had to be unique, and every job had to be perfect.” One of the floors that Greg created at Acorn recently won the NWFA Wood Floor of the Year award.
As Greg’s reputation grew, he began getting inquiries from other wood flooring professionals who were trying to achieve certain looks, but didn’t know how to get there on their own. He eventually founded Aged Timber, a custom fabrication and finishing house that sold to other wood flooring companies, specializing in reactive staining techniques, custom fuming, and building custom parquets. Aged Timber became the premiere source in the L.A. market for highly specialized, high quality finished goods. Among Greg’s accomplishments at Aged Timber was the development of the renowned Zanella wood flooring collection, which was one of the first uber high-end prefinished wood flooring lines to hit the market in the U.S. Zanella, which featured multi-layer colors, reactive stains, and other specialty techniques, was launched at a time when most floor finishers still thought that Gunstock stain was an exotic look.
Shou Sugi Ban: Japanese Wood Burning
A self-professed ‘machine geek,’ Greg spent much of his time at Aged Timber developing custom machines to achieve the looks he wanted, from unique, precision parquet cutting saws, to specialized spray booths, to ‘Bernie,’ his prized wood burning machine. Bernie was the fruit of countless trial-and-error efforts to recreate the ancient Japanese wood burning technique known as Shou Sugi Ban, which can be difficult in a production environment. Getting a deep burn effect without compromising the wood, starting a fire, or leaving behind an unpleasant odor is extremely challenging, but with Bernie, Greg has perfected a technique for consistent, beautiful (and safe) results. The looks that Bernie can create are simply gorgeous. Bernie is now set up at RCP’s Phoenix facility, and we’re excited to have him as the newest member of our team!
Building From An Established History with Galleher/RCP
Greg’s relationship with Galleher dates back over 20 years, when Galleher began coming to Greg with help on some of the more challenging color and parquet requests that were coming into RCP. Through that relationship, Galleher developed a deep respect for and trust in Greg’s ability to get the job done right. Whether it was custom fuming to achieve just the right background color for a multi-step reactive stain finish we were working on, or a complex parquet pattern with intersecting curves that had to fit together just right, Greg was the man for the job.
When RCP found itself in need of a new colorist and production manager, Galleher reached out to Greg, and we were thrilled when he expressed interest. For Greg, having an organization like Galleher behind him to take care of the customers, the sourcing, the bookkeeping, the employees, and all of the other headaches of running your own business, allows him to focus on what he really loves: making beautiful wood floors. Galleher/RCP already had a long background in custom finishing, and a climate-controlled workspace ideal for some of the techniques that Greg likes to use. It was a match made in heaven. We feel so blessed to have one of the greatest wood finishing minds on the planet right here in our very own shop!