From the earliest days he can remember, Tom Newman enjoyed building things with his hands. He grew up in Westchester, NY and by high school was already working during the summers for a residential builder. Tom set his sights on a career in stage scenery and lighting design and was accepted to NYU. During college, he spent a gap year working in regional theatres in Providence RI, Beverly Mass, and other locations along the Eastern seacoast. He also worked for Boston firm, TFA, touring as part of the stage and lighting crew with rock and roll acts like the Beach Boys, O-Jays, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
At NYU’s School of the Arts, Tom earned a Bachelors and then a Masters in Scenery and Lighting Design, serving along the way as an adjunct professor. After graduate school, he taught as a professor of lighting design and scene painting at Kingsborough college, part of the CUNY system, while designing off-Broadway shows and independent films. Tom designed lighting at New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Florida’s Palm Beach Opera. Set design and theatrical lighting greatly informed his future skillset for enhancing residential spaces.
Friends started asking for his help. He designed cabinetry, small interior renovations, media and lighting system, and these transitioned into entire living spaces. Larger commissions followed, such as the offices for Theater Crafts Magazine and Drama Book Publishers. To facilitate projects, Tom founded a woodworking and cabinetmaking studio on West 27th Street—still very much in use by his team today.
In 1982, Custom Alternatives Inc, was officially opened. The company’s mission was to provide a multidimensional scope –construction, cabinetmaking and renovation skills all under one roof.
Still wanting to learn more about the architectural, structural and mechanical sides of the industry, Tom was accepted to the NY Institute of Technology, culminating in a degree in Architectural Technology, awarded in 1992.
The firm was rebranded in 1997 as Custom Associates, and since then, Tom has continued to help a variety of customers in envisioning and attaining remarkable living spaces. Clients often return years later, seeking his guidance and services in reimagining their property purchases.