Like most of the planet, concerned about global warming and our carbon footprint, we have examined our business model with an eye towards its environmental impact and overall sustainability. We discovered how complicated and multi-layered this ideal is, but well worth the due diligence.
To begin, the word “sustainability” gets bandied about so much these days, its true meaning gets lost in the vagaries of the new millennium. At its core, sustainability means the ability to endure, whether referencing the planet, the human race, or the specific microcosm we individuals work in. After all, it is the multitude of these small entities that affects the whole. So let’s start with our small shop located in the heart of the White Mountains in Northern New Hampshire.
We make furniture: Shaker-inspired furniture out of cherry, maple and walnut. Our product is the first layer of sustainability. It is built to endure for not just a lifetime but for generations, for several lifetimes. The wood we use is of the best quality, combined with our joinery and finish, with the proper care, our furniture will last into perpetuity. That is the promise of heirloom quality furniture. We create no waste for the landfills and our customers are able to invest in a product they will never have to replace.
The second layer of sustainability consists of our materials. Our product is created from a renewable resource – wood. Trees are grown, harvested, and grown again. We provide American jobs for regional mills and transport companies. Except for a small amount of hardware, nothing is shipped in from overseas. In this way, our product boosts the regional and national economy without sapping resources which are finite. Our customers can take pride in the fact that their dining table or bedroom set is American made and the materials are supplied by American companies. Though we live in a global economy, supporting local businesses helps us all.
The third layer of sustainability consists of the allocation of waste. Our sawdust is collected in a trailer and every week, Rene, a local dairy farmer, hauls it away to use as bedding for his herd. The short pieces of wood are boxed and taken by employees and local townsfolk to heat their homes during our sub-arctic winters. Small pieces of ¼” plywood are cut and sanded to provide local artists with working materials, and the employees are allowed to utilize the too small to use pieces to create their own particular art nouveau. Matt, our chief engineer, recently completed a hobbit sized stove and hutch ensemble for this four year old daughter named Callie. Nothing goes to waste here.
The philosophy of quality and frugality perpetuated in our small shop is no accident. Our president, Peter Guest, Jr. and his father, Cherry Pond’s founder and advisor, Peter Guest, Sr. both understand and respect the value of the product we make, the materials we use, and the world we live in. Since attitude reflects leadership it is not surprising that this respect permeates the entire shop from the rough end to packing. It is this respect that makes up the final layer of sustainability. It is reflected in every piece of furniture we create. It is the foundation on which our company was built and by which it endures.