NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Ever since Tim Butler was a child, operating machines has been his passion. His family still jokes about the time his parents were out and he slipped away to operate his dad’s backhoe to dig another watering hole for their horses. He was eight.

“My grandfather saw me and asked me what I was doing,” Butler said. “When I told him, he was unfazed. He said ‘OK’ and helped me finish the project.”

As an adult, Butler’s love for heavy machinery set him on his career path. In 2005, he started Butler Excavating. Then, last year, he saw an opportunity to broaden his services when a supply yard became available for sale in North Salem. He believed that he and his family’s background and expertise would be a great fit for the new location, and he was determined to offer a greater array of services, so he jumped at the challenge.

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“We understand the needs of our surroundings, from the homeowner to the horse farms,” he said. “This just seemed like the right direction to go.”

Hardscrabble Supply, a construction and landscaping supply yard located off Hardscrabble Road in North Salem, opened last year.

This North Salem family of six generations has been in the supply business going back to Butler’s great grandfather. Tim began working with his father when he was just 12 and took over the business shortly after he graduated high school. Hardscrabble Supply continues the legacy as a family affair; Butler’s brother, Jeff, manages the yard, and the family’s youngest members, Tim’s nieces and nephews, come to help on weekends. Hardscrabble Supply even enticed Tim’s father, Jeff, out of retirement, so he’s back to working his traditional half-day: 12 hours. 

Located off Exit 8 on I-684, Hardscrabble Supply offers a local supply yard for contractors, as well as a supportive and educational center for homeowners with a project. Butler said homeowners come for his company’s advice and assistance with projects that range from sprucing up a gravel driveway with new stone, to repairing a lawn, to buying a piece of pipe, or getting the highest quality mulch delivered right to their front yard. 

What makes the company stand out, in addition to its generations of experience, Tim said, is the personalized attention customers can expect. Having his brother in the yard to provide insight and advice is an invaluable asset, along with an office staff that has years of experience in the industry.

“If you come in looking for something, we won’t just hand it to you and send you on your way,” Tim said. “We will ask you questions—the right questions—to make sure we can meet your needs efficiently.”

In addition to getting help with their projects, customers also take advantage of Hardscrabble Supply’s other services, including delivery, as well as providing homeowners with a convenient location to drop off yard debris for a small fee. Homeowners can drop off brush, trees or leftover materials from projects, Butler said, and while they’re there, they can pick up environmentally sustainable recycled materials such as mulch and top soil.

“We are able to repurpose things that would otherwise go to a landfill,” Butler said. “We’re trying to be very environmentally aware partners for our contractors. From there, we can take leftover materials, like logs and stumps, and turn that into mulch and other materials we can then provide to local homeowners.”

For their professional contractor customer, Butler said Hardscrabble Supply offers efficiency.

“We know they’re busy,” he said. “If someone comes to us, we make sure they get what they need in as timely a manner as possible.”

By combining the latest technology with traditional techniques, the Butler family aims to give their customers the best materials in the area in an environmentally conscious way. Hardscrabble Supply is an authorized dealer of Jonathan Green Grass Seed and Fertilizer, as well as the “best mulch on Earth,” Sweet Peet.

While being a local resource for contractors is important to the business, Butler said the intention behind Hardscrabble Supply is to stay true to the family’s roots and become a go-to resource for local residents and homeowners as well.

“From a bag of grass seed to a pipe fitting, from 1 yard to 20 yards of topsoil or mulch delivered, we’re happy to help guide you through the process,” Butler said. “People sometimes say, ‘we didn’t know you were here.’ We’re here and excited to help navigate your household projects.”