Jason and Brian Studt get paid to play Tetris all day long.
The brothers co-own Legacy Hardwood Floors, a West Fargo business that specializes in installing new and reclaimed hardwood flooring. That means they have to be spatial savants. They can spend laying out “puzzle pieces,” very old, less-than-perfect floor boards, to figure out the best way to fit them all together.
The Brothers Studt have already tackled some of the best jobs in the area (custom floors with elaborate inlaid patterns) as well as some of the biggest (they refinished the 17,000-square-foot floor of the Bison Bunker Field House.)
But the vast majority of their workload involves the oldest of materials. They have been asked to install flooring made from old wine barrels and have turned petrified wood into floor tiles. Most recently, they laid reclaimed hardwood floors throughout the Loretta Building in downtown Fargo. They also were the craftsmen behind the reclaimed pumpkin plank pine flooring in the SkyBarn, Kilbourne Group’s showcase condo at 300 Broadway.
It’s hard, physical work, which also requires an eye for detail. The old boards are far from perfectly symmetrical. The crevices of these reclaimed planks are typically caked with decades of grime, which hardens to a concrete-like consistency and has to be chipped off to ensure proper fit. And certain boards are so rare that they’re nearly impossible to replace if broken.
In fact, when Jason recently covered the fourth-floor conference room of Loretta with flooring from the Hallock, Minn., gym, he wound up sanding each piece three times so it would be perfectly level and smooth.
But it’s also rewarding. Few features transform a space as dramatically as flooring does. The end result is often “jaw-dropping,” Jason says.
Especially when the installers are as meticulous as this duo. When referring to Jason’s work, KG Founder Doug Burgum repeats a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
Jason and Brian Studt, he adds, have turned floor-installation into an art form.
The brothers developed their skills and work ethic by growing up around their family’s construction business.
“If you were old enough to push a broom, you were working,” Jason recalls. “You didn’t get an allowance. You had to go out and work for a paycheck.”
The Studts’ uncle sold the business in 2005. For a few years afterward, the two siblings saved money (at Brian’s insistence) and talked of opening their own business. In 2008, they were finally able to launch Legacy Hardwood Flooring. They don’t have to do much marketing; word-of-mouth keeps them plenty busy. “To be good at it, you have to have an eye for detail. It’s not like there’s a school for it,”Jason says.
In fact, demand for their services is great enough that they often work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. And there are no plans to rest on their laurels anytime soon. “You’re only as good as your last job,” Jason says.
Photography by Jacob Olson. SkyBarn photo by Scott Amundson.