Category: News

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

Urban Wood Waste Powers St. Paul’s Energy Grid


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

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

Indiana Tree Service Morphs into Custom Urban Wood Furniture

Vine and Branch Furniture of Carmel, IN, is the featured cover story of the December/January issue of Hamilton County Business.

Vine and Branch Furniture represents the latest evolution of Vine and Branch, a tree service established in 1976. The company is led by Jud Scott, a registered consulting arborist with the American Society of Consulting Arborists.

Read the story about how Vine and Branch Furniture brings “New Life for Dead Trees.”

Learn more about the company at

Repurposing Urban Wood Waste as Biomass

Wood-Chip-LandfillForest2Market recently posted an interesting article worth a read by all managers of urban wood, landfills and biomass operations.

“Urban Wood Waste: Are You Overlooking a Viable Feedstock?” delves into the potential economic benefits of burning urban wood waste to create power or heat instead of landfilling.

The article states, “Current economics favor funneling wood waste into the market, whether the market is for fuel, mulch or other uses. This is because the disposal of wood waste into a landfill adds zero net value. Rather, introducing wood waste into the market adds value as it can become a feedstock for a biomass power facility, for example.”

The Forest2Market article also looks at reasons for various stakeholders to look at using urban wood waste as biomass. For example, here’s some considerations for a landfill operation to make the shift:

  1. The landfill’s need for daily or intermediate cover (cover dirt is expensive and often difficult to find)
  2. State waste reduction goal credits the landfill might secure by using the wood waste for daily or intermediate cover
  3. A desire to save valuable landfill space for materials which have no alternative disposal options
  4. An end-market consumer with feedstock demand requirements.

Read the full article at Forest2Market.

Horigan Urban Forest Products Re-launches Website

HUFP-WebsiteHorigan Urban Forest Products Inc., one of Chicagoland’s longest-standing urban wood enterprises, has redesigned its website:

Horigan Urban Forest Products is owned and operated by the husband-wife team of Bruce and Erika Horigan. The company received the Governor’s Pollution Prevention Award in 2007. Bruce Horigan, a certified arborist since 1979, was honored with a Special Recognition award by the Illinois Arborist Association in 2008 for advancing the cause of wood recycling in the urban environment.

The company mills and dry kilns lumber, slabs and burls. The products are sold to professional woodworkers, hobbyists, consumers and others at its facility at 7255 N. St. Louis in Skokie, IL.

In addition, Horigan Urban Forest Products makes flooring, custom furniture and specialty items like picture frames and bowls from community trees.

Horigan Urban Forest Products is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Phone 847-568-1340 or visit the website, where you can also request to receive the company’s newsletter.

IAA Slates Certified Arborist Workshops & Exam in Glencoe

isa-certificaton-logoThe Illinois Arborist Association announced the schedule for upcoming International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist workshops and exam to be held at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Glencoe.

Workshops will be held 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on each Thursday between Feb. 9 and April 6. The certification exam will take place on April 13.

Certification allows an arborist to advance his or her career and demonstrate commitment to the tree care profession.

The ISA Certification Board requires a candidate to have a minimum of three years of full-time experience in arboriculture. Acceptable experience includes the practical use of knowledge involved in pruning, fertilization, installation and establishment, diagnosis and treatment of tree problems, cabling and bracing, climbing, or other services that directly relate to arboriculture.

Download the brochure to learn more and to register.

Cover Treatment for Wisconsin Urban Wood

The rise and growth of Wisconsin Urban Wood is the cover story of the Winter 2017 edition of Your Family. 

Twink Jan-McMahon, executive director of Wisconsin Urban Wood, graces the cover. She and several members of WUW, discuss how the group got started and how it has grown to more than 30 members and counting. The article notes several benefits of repurposing urban trees including carbon sequestration, supporting local businesses and economies, removing usable wood from the waste stream and crafting custom wood  products.

Download the article and scroll down to page 22.

Arborist Pursues His Passion with Urban Wood Start-up


By Rich Christianson

Dobnick Timberworks has joined the Illinois urban wood movement, opening up a lumber and custom wood products business in Oswego, IL.

The company is owned by certified arborist Brandon Dobnick and his wife, Marlana. Dobnick Timberworks operates a portable sawmill and offers 16-plus species of urban wood up to 16 feet long and 56 inches wide including ash, red and white oak, silver maple, Turkish hazelnut and pecan to name a few. Lumber products are available rough sawn to finished and green, air or kiln dried. The company also crafts live-edge custom wood products.

“One hundred percent of our wood is locally sourced and many with unique storylines behind them,” Dobnick said. “We hope to continue to see more and more urban wood become utilized.”

The Dobnick Timberworks website waxes poetic about the beauty and value of the urban forest and urban wood. The company’s mission statement is illustrative.

“Our Mission is to continue the legacy of our living landscapes through sustainably recycling urban trees by finding their highest purpose. We refuse to harvest any of our wood solely for its raw timber value, rather, a hundred percent of our wood has been harvested from trees within our urban landscapes which have died and/or needed to be removed for reasons other than timber value, i.e. Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, and other issues. All of our wood is harvested/collected locally within a fifty mile radius.

“We seek to advocate for proper tree care management practices, encourage planting trees, and enhancing the environment by seeking to minimize our carbon footprint while sequestering carbon through utilizing our wood products within our everyday spaces. We seek to unveil the stories hidden within urban trees’ unconventional character and gain patterns by creating slabs, lumber, and custom pieces which not only tell a story, but breathe life into their spaces.”

Learn more at

Help Wanted: Homer Glen’s 2017 Earth Day/Arbor Day Celebration

homer-glen-earth-day-logoThe 2017 Earth Day/Arbor Day Committee of the Village of Homer Glen is seeking exhibitors and demonstrators to provide education highlighting the role that natural resources play in sustaining a high quality of life in the community and to encourage participation in natural resource protection and restoration efforts.

Participants who can showcase activities that connect children and adults with nature and those that use natural products are highly encouraged.

The 2017 Earth Day/Arbor Day event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 20 at the historic Konow Farm, 16849 S. Cedar Ave. in Homer Glen.

“We are seeking crafters, demonstrators, exhibitors, vendors, volunteers, and sponsors,” said Sue Steilen, community relations coordinator. Of special interest to the urban forest and urban wood community include green solutions, ideas for conserving and protecting natural resources, and crafts and products made from natural materials.

Steilen noted that  Konow Farm offers indoor and outdoor space for exhibits and activities.

Click download the Earth Day/Arbor Day Participant Application and Agreement and the Participant Information and Guidelines forms for individuals, organizations and business participation are attached. For more information, e-mail, or contact Steilen at 708-301-0632.