Urban Evolutions president and co-owner, Robin Janson, was interviewed on Fresh Take, a local radio show, about why reclaimed wood is good for the earth, good for business and good for the community. Download the interview or read the recap:
Good for the Earth
Robin and her husband, Jeff (also co-owner) are creative, innovative individuals who have always been interested in finding materials that are old, historic or left behind. They started UE as an outlet for this passion in the early 90s and continue to operate their business with that same fuel for creativity today.
“We love taking things that would be thrown away and making something out of them,” said Robin. “There is integrity and beauty in old materials that you do not find in new materials, not to mention the quality of construction and workmanship.”
When it comes to recycling, UE’s goal is to stay as true to the material’s original form and purpose as possible. The approach is about preserving the quality and structural integrity of the piece.
UE’s customers range from the general consumer furnishing their home to Fortune 500 companies who are looking to integrate items from their past into their future. Currently, Menasha Corporation is working with UE to take the wood from one of its original corporate office buildings built in the 1960s and reuse it in their new space.
“They have relied upon our expertise to visit the old facility and evaluate which materials could be reused or repurposed,” said Robin. “We have taken 30-foot structural timbers and helped them reuse these beams throughout the new office. They are also repurposing the original cedar siding into interior wall cladding in the new building.”
Usually taken from factories or barns, the wood UE reclaims is often over a century old. And the passion behind being green comes from taking something that is 100 years old and giving it a new life, possibly spanning another 100 years.
Good for Business
Everyone loves a good story. For our corporate customers, oftentimes the driver behind finding unique materials is about having something that cannot be duplicated by their competitors.
This is true for Wisconsin-based Organic Valley, located in the Viroqua area. The company owned an old barn and wanted to preserve and integrate as much of the material as possible into their new office space. In addition to providing communal meeting tables throughout their new office space, UE built a 20-foot conference table and ran a strip of the reclaimed barn siding down the middle of an otherwise pristine wood surface. This is now a centerpiece for their company.
UE did the same type of work for US Venture, Inc. Customers who sit in their conference room are immediately curious about the massive beams that make up their 24-foot table.
Using materials and furnishings that are reclaimed takes the conversation in a direction of sustainability. For the company or business owner who have a commitment to being green, these items broadcast that responsibility in a beautiful, functional way.
Good for Community
UE supports the community through its staff, vendors and customers. The company strives to be a good business; one that is safe, healthy and provides a soulful place to work. There are challenges to maintaining a small workforce in manufacturing, especially when most of UE’s competitors are making products overseas. UE employs anywhere between 20-30 people in its Appleton factory.
UE also outsources its work to several wood shops in the Fox Valley and throughout the country.
“Because we are innovators, we don’t say “no” to often,” said Robin. “Some projects we keep in house and others we work with a network of local vendors and suppliers to partner with us to make new products.”
Lastly, UE supports artisans from the local community that support its mission of Made in America. Again. The Appleton showroom has become a place where these individuals can sell their creations and where customers can shop for items that are uniquely hand made in Wisconsin.
“We want to be the best outlet for them,” said Robin. “We love what they create; and by supporting them we are experiencing the natural outcome of a good creative endeavor. People just like Jeff and I, who have followed their hearts and passion.”