Wood Talk: Peter Connor, WD Flooring

Photo courtesy of Peter Connor, WD Flooring

Peter Connor is the president of WD Flooring in Laona, Wisconsin. He represents the fifth generation of his family to be part of the wood products industry, and the company’s name is a tribute to his great grandfather, W.D. Connor, a pioneer of sustainable forestry. WD Flooring has won several NWFA Wood Floor of the Year awards, and Peter Connor has been recognized with the NWFA Vanguard Industry Service Award. WD Flooring also contributes to the NWFA’s efforts with the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program.

Connor was recently featured on the NWFA Wood Talk podcast, so Hardwood Floors magazine caught up with him to ask a few more questions.

How did you get started in the industry?
One might say I was born into the industry. I literally started at the bottom working first as a janitor in the sawmill; then I piled lumber and eventually I learned lumber grades. I joined the management team in 1995 and built WD Flooring in 1996.

Who has influenced your career the most, and why?
Rick Coates taught me the value of relationships. Virgil Hendricks asked me the best question ever: “So, what are you going to do next?” Steve Belrose taught me the techniques to create amazing colors and how to work with finishes.

What is your favorite wood floor project that you’ve participated in?
There are so many projects that hold a special place in my heart. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was special because it was 280,000 sq. ft. of solid 3/4” FSC flooring (the largest FSC job we’ve ever heard of). Another important floor was one we did for Horst. It was the first large-scale reactive we had ever done – it was on Black Ash, a scaled-up herringbone, and the first Rubio Monocoat floor to win Wood Floor of the Year. There have been loads of other museums, movie stars, and athletes’ homes we have done, and they are all special. Of those, we did a really cool floor for a really cool client (can’t say who) in Aspen with Harry Teague who is a legendary Aspen architect. I could go on and on.

What energizes you to stay in the wood flooring industry?
The next big leap.

What are you listening to right now?
For current music, I like the new Gorillaz album, “Song Machine.” For old music, there is an amazing app called Relisten. I’ll jump on my bike at the end of the day and put on a concert from that day in history (usually the Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, or the Radiators) and go for an hourlong bike ride to let everything from the day wash away.

Do you have a morning routine that sets you up for success?
Every morning I put together a list of the biggest challenges, then I start with the greatest one and move down the list (limited to three to five items per day). I do whatever I need to bring it to a head and, hopefully, solve these challenges before noon. This allows me to reserve the rest of the day for doing the fun things associated with our business.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
I’m active in the spirits industry. I created my own gin in 2019 called 100 Mill St and am now a partner in a rum. I love to hike/climb mountains, ski, play squash, and hunt ducks and go fishing with my kids. Cooking is one of my great Zen activities because when I’m cooking, I can think of nothing but the task at hand, and that, to me, is peace.

You can listen to a technical-focused discussion between Peter Connor and NWFA’s Brett Miller, as well as other hardwood flooring experts by visiting HARDWOODFLOORSMAG.COM/NWFA-WOOD-TALK-PODCAST.

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