Monthly archives: March, 2017

Hobby Becomes a Post-Retirement Urban Wood Business

What started as something to do for retirement has grown into a lucrative custom woodworking business for Alan Runde of Batavia, IL.

Runde recently reached out to the Illinois Wood Utilization Team to share photos of some of his work. “I was so busy getting my shop up and running the past five years I did not have a lot of free time to be part of the social side of woodworking and reaching out to people and organizations like yours,” Runde said.

“My retirement hobby has become a small design build/one-man shop ‘business,.'” Runde added. “It really is a well paying hobby that goes to my daughter’s college education fund.”

Runde started his woodworking business in December 2012. His specialty is Arts and Crafts style design, but, “I also favor the urban industrial/barn wood design build projects,” he said.

Clients include a several commercial contractors for whom Runde does specialty work like doors, table tops and sales counters. “I also have a great loyal base of prior customers who were referred by word of mouth and reputation.” Yet another source of business are clients Runde referred to as “drive up customers.” They are mostly women who want a custom piece that they have seen on Pintrest or HGTV or something like that. They are my best advertising.”

Runde’s go-to source for milled and kiln-dried urban wood is fellow Batavia resident Ron Meyers of Meyers Lumber & Woodworking. He’s been purchasing urban harvested lumber from Meyers for about 10 years. ” I have been heating my home first, and now the shop, from Ron’s scrap pile since he opened up his business on River Street;” Runde said.

Runde credits his father for educating him about the benefits of wood recycling. “My father taught me about reclaimed lumber 30 years ago and how valuable and rare some lumber was. He was years ahead of the trend.”

Runde’s favorite urban wood is white oak. “It’s the classic Arts and Crafts species of choice from the last century. It is also our state tree,” Runde noted. “I love the smell of oak as I work with it. I love the classic ray and flecks of high-grade quarter sawn white Oak. Ron Meyers has some of the best stock in the Midwest since the area has a great gift of old-growth white oak that was not clear cut when the settlers came through.”

So what does Runde like best about using urban wood? “I like the whole tree to furniture movement that’s taking place now in the artisan-inspire shops. I love that clients get to see a tree on their property go through the whole process from harvesting to milling, drying, designing and building something from it. I also like that they get a hand crafted piece of art furniture  for future generations of their family. It makes me feel happy to be part of the equation.

Contact Runde at alrunde@mac.com.



Urban Wood Waste Powers St. Paul’s Energy Grid

St-Paul-Urban-Wood-Bioenergy-Plant

When it comes to generating energy from urban wood biomass, St. Paul, MN, is way ahead of the curve.

For two decades, St. Paul Cogeneration has provided heat and electricity to area consumers. The main fuel source is urban wood residuals to the tune of about 50 truckload deliveries of wood chips each day. The vast majority of the chips are gathered from within 60 miles of the cogeneration plant. According to St. Paul Cogeneration’s website, sources include storm-damaged trees, tree trimmings, land clearing, clean construction residues such as pallets, habitat restoration and municipal and private tree and brush sites.

Approximately 280,000 tons of urban wood residues are used each year, most of which would have wound up in landfills.

The plant can simultaneously produce 65 megawatts of heat and up to 33 megawatts of electricity. Approximately 25 megawatts of this total – sufficient to power 20,000 homes – is supplied to the local electric utility.

In 2013, St. Paul Cogeneration was the only American project to be recognized in a recent report on the potential of district energy by the United Nations Environment Program.

Learn more at districtenergy.com.



Treecycle America Entrepreneur Forges an Urban Wood Network

Treecycle AmericaUsually when a tree care service, sawmill or custom woodworking business takes a shining to urban wood, the owner sets out to forge a network to sustain his business.

Treecycle America of Charlotte, NC, takes the opposite approach. The company was launched to create an urban wood network of tree care, sawmill and woodworking vendors to put felled and fallen trees in the greater Charlotte area to their best possible use. The company’s website proclaims that Treecycle America is a “Certified Urban Forestry & Local Marketplace. A collaborative network of certified architects, designers, developers, municipalities, arborists, sawmills, woodworkers, and makers embracing the common goal of using urban trees to their fullest potential.”

One of the novelties of Treecycle America’s Market, is its TreeID chain of custody system. It allows consumers to view the map and history of the trees used to create products. The product mix includes kiln-dried lumber, live edge slabs, furniture, fireplace mantels, DIY kits and handmade artisan crafts.

Damon Barron, co-founder of Treecycle America, was a featured speaker at the 2015 TEDx conference in Charlotte. The TED conferences are infamous for featuring speakers at the forefront of the convergence of Technology, Entertainment and Design. Each speaker is required to present their topic in 18 minutes or less. Barron accomplished his spiel in less than 12 minutes based on the video below.

Barron, who accumulated more than 15 years in commercially forested lumber and wood products, said, “I see a vision to the future of 10 billion inhabitants and the need to pay more attention to the local resource at hand, regardless where that might be.”

Learn more about Treecycle America at treecycleamerica.com