Wood Talk: Hank Adams

Hank Adams is the general manager and director of manufacturing for Bison Hardwood, a distributor located in Arlee, Montana. He has been in the wood flooring industry for four decades and owned Buckeye Hardwood and Lumber Co. until he sold the business in 2017. Adams serves on the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA)’s Technical Standards Committee and was a 2012 recipient of the Vanguard Degree.

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

Tell us something interesting about yourself. Before I got into hardwoods, I was a high school teacher and coach. I played baseball and basketball where I grew up in northeastern Ohio, and went on to play both sports at the college level. My last baseball game in 1975 was at the Altoona, Pennsylvania minor league stadium, where our team defeated a minor league all-star team for the championship.

How did you get started in the industry? I’ve been cutting and working with hardwood since I was young because my dad and grandfather were builders. When I was coaching, I had a ball player who was in the hardwood industry, and we started moving hardwoods from Ohio to Montana. The rest kind of just happened.

Who has influenced your career the most and why? My dad. More than anything else, he had the unique ability to teach people how to think. Working with him taught me how to solve problems, which is what life is about. He had a unique way of crafting and molding me into a lifetime learner.

What is your favorite wood floor project that you’ve participated in? Rather than picking one job, I’d say we’ve done jobs from coast to coast, from New York City to Oregon, so it’s hard for me to pick one. For instance, we did the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Kansas for Homeland Security, and that was a special floor because we had to meet exacting standards. The fact that it was FSC, clear, 6” all-heart walnut, seven-to-12-foot lengths, and had an inlay of stainless steel edging showed me that we were one of the few companies that could even bid on that job.

Photos courtesy of Hank Adams / Bison Hardwood

What energizes you to stay in the wood flooring industry? I like building things, whether it’s a floor or a piece of machinery or creating something else. That’s what we do here every day. It may not just be flooring, it might be moulding or specialty wood parts, but that drive to create things is what keeps me going.

Do you have a morning routine that sets you up for success? My alarm goes off every morning at 5:15, and by 6:30, I am on the job. I think it’s critical that if you are running things and managing things, the people who work for you should see you there at the same time they are there. The people that work around you, with you, and for you recognize that, and they’re more productive if you’re there being more productive.

What are you reading right now? I am an avid reader. I just finished “Summer Child” by Ron Schwab, a western novel.

What keeps you busy outside of work? I’m always making or building things. Currently, my wife and I are finishing up the home we started building a year and a half ago. We love where we live and can go off our property and have hundreds of thousands of acres to hike, walk, or ride horseback. We always have something to do because where we live is conducive to outdoor activities.

You can listen to a technical-focused discussion between Hank Adams and NWFA’s Brett Miller, as well as other hardwood flooring experts by visiting hardwoodfloorsmag.com/nwfa-wood-talk-podcast.

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