Drawing on Old World traditions, furniture maker Andre Thome crafts custom furniture deep in the heart of Texas.
“In this shop, we concentrate on quality not speed,” said furniture maker AndreThome, who is the primary craftsman and owner of Farm to Market Woodworks LLC in Ledbetter. “Our furniture reflects the traditions of the Old World—we use time-tested joinery, focus on the details from design to finish, and never lose sight of overall quality to create solid wood pieces that families can pass proudly through the generations.”
Thome, a third-generation woodworker, was born in Germany and came to the United States in 1966. He was reared in Chicago and later Houston, which he made his permanent home.
“I’ve always loved woodworking,” Thome said. “I learned the skillset first-hand working alongside my father.”
After a 36-year career in the hospitality industry and developing restaurants around the globe, Thome founded Farm to Market Woodworks in 2016.
“I decided it was time to take a leap of faith and do something different,” Thome said. “Through the years, I’d never quit woodworking, so I wanted to try and make something of it.”
The entrepreneurial leap to custom furniture wasn’t as big as it appears.
“It seems like a big departure, but everything I learned in corporate America about business management and customer service, helps me do what I do now,” Thome said.
And the leap to Ledbetter wasn’t big either. Thome bought the Whiskey Sky Ranch as a family getaway about 20 years ago with hopes to one day make it their primary home. As he explored options for renting production space in Houston or building a workshop in Ledbetter, the numbers pointed him to Washington County.
“My overhead is low here at the ranh, which allows us to turn out a high-quality product for a very competitive price,” said Thome, noting the central location also allows them to easily reach customers across the state—and the nation.
The rural location also inspired the name.
“ is a play on the farm-to-market roads that allowed farmers to bring their goods to town,” Thome said. “We bring our furniture from the ranch to the market—a client’s home or business.”
Country life then delivered a collaborator. Former Houstonite Tom Almstedt, also a lifelong woodworker and ex-pat from global commerce, purchased the property next door.
“I’ve always wanted a saw mill, so I bought one for my birthday,” Almstedt said.
The saw mill is a mobile unit that gives the duo the ability to custom harvest and custom mill wood from clients’ properties and their own.
“We have the ability to harvest both live and dead trees,” Almstedt said.
As a result, the wood shop can offer this one-of-a-kind material as well as reclaimed wood and a wide variety of newly purchased hardwoods. Woods purchased from distributors are always finish-milled in the shop.
“Every wood species has its own story, given its geography, climate, and characteristics,” Thome said. “Each type of wood look is different and performs uniquely in different settings, so we help clients consider this as they are envisioning their project.”
The design process is collaborative. Through it, the team not only educates clients so they can create the most beautiful piece for their space, but outlines various options allowing them to hit different price points.
“We’re open and honest and we want our clients to get exactly what they are looking for including pieces perfectly suited for their space,” Thome said. ”Every piece is critiqued in great detail and will not leave the shop until expectations are met. At times, we’ve reworked a piece to ensure high quality.”
The design team, led by Thome’s daughter Karina, embraces a range of styles. While these include rustic, reclaimed and farmhouse, the majority of the commissioned pieces are contemporary.
“If it’s wood, we can do something beautiful with it,” said Almstedt, noting they have trusted artisans who work in metal if a design requires it. “We approach each project as if we’re building it for our own homes.”
The team can build all types of indoor and outdoor furniture, but tables and countertops are favorites because their surface area allows the wood to make a statement. From beginning to end, each project is a labor of love.
“I sweat all of the little things, but when I set up a piece in a customer’s home and see the expressions on their faces, it’s all worth it,” said Thome, who counts annual thank you notes after installing a client’s table three years ago as a high mark.
And while customers’ reactions continue to inspire him, Thome never loses sight of what drew him to woodworking.
“I’ve always loved trees—and I never forget that the wood we use was once a living thing,” Thome said. “When you’re surrounded by nature and using materials provided by nature to build something beautiful that will last for many lifetimes, it provides a sort of euphoria that can’t be adequately explained.”
By: Lorie A. Woodward