Quest for success

Article Index
Quest for success
Keeping busy
Design and production
All Pages

Rob Levy is finally able to say he has the custom woodworking business he’s always dreamed of creating. Along with his crew, the owner of Hudson River Woodworks in Garnerville, N.Y., works with the architectural and design community and homeowners in designing and building custom furniture and fine cabinetry.

He creates entertainment centers, built-ins, library rooms, home offices, kitchens and high-end closets, using a wide variety of domestic and exotic veneers and solid woods.

“I’ve always wanted to have a business very similar to what I have now. Recently, a friend from college came up to visit, took one look at the shop and said, ‘This is exactly what you were talking about in college.’ ”

Rob Levy

Owner of: Hudson River Woodworks
Location: Garnerville, N.Y.
Professional experience: 23 years
Shop size: 3,800 sq. ft.
Employees: 2
Product: Custom cabinetry and millwork.
Quotable: “We work very closely with our customers to provide a service and a product that puts the client at ease and exceeds their expectations.”

But it certainly didn’t happen overnight, and the whole process has been a matter of Levy timing things right while working to gain perspective on the industry and bring his personal dream to fruition.

After completing two degrees in fine woodworking and furniture design, Levy chose to step away from creating his own art pieces to work at a prestigious midtown New York City art gallery that specialized in studio art furniture. After that, Levy worked with several firms where he focused on marketing and selling commercial interior custom furniture and millwork to the architectural and design community. These experiences taught him how to build great relationships with the clients that are the lifeblood of his business today.

The beginning
Levy began working at his father’s cabinet shop when he was a teenager. After completing high school in West Nyack, N.Y., he enrolled in a woodworking program at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pa., where he obtained an Associate of Fine Arts degree. He studied under Mark Sfirri, a studio furniture maker specializing in lathe turned art furniture, and apprenticed at a custom furniture factory in Philadelphia.

Levy then enrolled at the University of Massachusetts in North Dartmouth, Mass., studying with Alfonse Mattia, Stephen Whittlesey and the late Michael Paschalla, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1991.

Levy also worked part-time for a furniture refinisher and restoration specialist. When he finished school, he worked and sold in the Peter Joseph Gallery in Manhattan, where he taught patrons about the careers of the furniture makers and other artists, and about specific pieces.

“My years at school taught me how to design and build the furniture, but nothing about the person who buys it, so working at the gallery opened my eyes,” says Levy.

He had his own business, briefly, building custom furniture and cabinetry out of his father’s four-car garage in West Nyack, N.Y. But he put his dream on hold for another four years, taking a job at a high-end architectural millwork shop in Brooklyn, which made conference tables and full-floor build-outs for commercial clients.