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- Category: Media
Handcrafted Log Furniture Makes Mountain Woods Furniture Stand Out
By: Western Retailer July/ August 2009
written by Melissa Dressler
Manufacturing aspen and pine log furniture since 1991, Mountain Woods Furniture is known for their award-winning, rustic log furniture for the living room, dining room, bedroom and office. The company has since added a second aspen line and a new reclaimed wood line, The Wyoming Collection to its rustic furniture line-up. From humble beginnings of one person, Mountain Woods Furniture now occupies a 22,000 square foot manufacturing plant in Laramie, WY. Today, experienced and skilled craftspeople use old-fashioned building techniques to create their high-quality products. As a founding member of the Sustainable Furniture Council, owners Mike and Dee O’Connell value and incorporate sustainable practices into every aspect of their manufacturing business.
While the manufacturing of products made by Mountain Woods Furniture is very labor intensive, the results and client retention rate are worth the efforts. All of the wood for the aspen and reclaimed lines is purchased from local suppliers, which helps keep the company’s carbon footprint low. Once the wood is in-house, the aspen logs are peeled by hand with a draw blade. “We don’t have automatic peelers because it takes off too much of the character that lies just under the bark,” Dee said. “We have individuals whose jobs are to peel using the draw blade.”
From there, the wood is finely sanded and utilized for the appropriate project. “If we are doing a custom piece, or a piece that requires extra gnarly wood, the builder will choose which wood he wants for that project,” Dee added. The wood is then run through milling equipment or saws and assembled to create the specific product.
“Our product quality and shipping capabilities are what makes our company unique,” Dee said. “Being an American manufacturer of renewable wood products feels great. We take the environment into account in all of our decisions, and our retail partners enjoy the added benefits of marketing a sustainable, made in the USA brand.” In order to reduce waste from the manufacturing process, Mountain Woods Furniture invested in piping laid throughout their flooring and uses 85 percent of their wood byproducts to heat the facility. “We are always looking for ways to operate efficiently — which affects all of our bottom lines,” Dee added.
Attention to detail is another important aspect of the service and products that Mountain Woods Furniture provides. “Our customers say it is our service that makes us unique,” Dee said. “Our clients are always pleasantly surprised by our attention to detail as well as to the attention the product gets on their showroom floor. It seems to be a product that is very comforting to people — and they truly enjoy having it in their home.”
Mountain Woods Furniture supplies rustic furnishings for retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada. They also do a great deal of custom work and have created many unique items for various celebrities over the last 18 years. For more information on Mountain Woods Furniture, visit their website at www.mountainwoodsfurniture.com.
- Category: Media
Westward Expansion: The Story of Mountain Woods Furniture.
Posted on June 01, 2009 Written by Brian Caldwell
By: Woodshop News
- Category: Media
Mountain Woods Furniture® Introduces the Rustic Arts Log Furniture™ Line at the Las Vegas Market
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Mountain Woods Furniture will introduce its Rustic Arts Log Furniture line at the Las Vegas Market later this week. Although the company manufactures a comprehensive line of handcrafted aspen log furniture, Mountain Woods had been deluged with requests from retailers for a line of log furniture at a significantly lower price point. Yet, co-owner Mike O’Connell refused to rush a slipshod product to market. “Not only did we need to reduce costs for our budget line, but we had to do it in such a way that each piece did not erode our very high customer satisfaction” he said. “The Mountain Woods Log Furniture brand is respected from coast to coast; we even have satisfied customers in Europe and Asia.”
Although their dealers asked Mike and his wife and business partner Dee to create budget-priced pieces, those pleas fell on deaf ears until they felt satisfied their craftspeople were able to trim costs without hurting the beauty or durability of the products. “Our dealers told us they had customers who aspired to our unique heirloom-quality line with its lifetime warranty, but the purchase of one of our bedroom or dining room sets was not realistic for them,” Dee said. “We strongly believe that in today’s stressful world, log furniture takes us back to nature and a more peaceful way of existing. It was difficult for us to accept that we didn’t have furniture choices for a segment of the market. Now with the Rustic Arts Log Furniture line, we have products for those families—and some commercial markets too. We also expect that many of those purchasers will move up to our Heirloom line over time,” she added.
The timing could not have been better for the introduction of this budget line. As Baby Boomers approach retirement age, many have purchased country homes and cabins with the intention of living there part time now and full time in retirement. This trend has fueled the log home industry’s explosive growth, and the O’Connells have happily ridden those coattails. “Even traditional furniture stores who in the past would never think of stocking log furniture are waking up to this trend and contacting us to help them meet the demand for unique rustic furniture,” Dee O'Connell said.
While creating the Rustic Arts Log Furniture line consumed much of Mike O’Connell’s time in 2006, he also rededicated himself to increasing the already high sustainability quotient of their furniture manufacturing process. With a gleam in his eye, he noted: “Sustainability is such a hot topic that the U.N. declared 2007 as the Year of Sustainability, and you can’t pick up a magazine, newspaper or see a TV program without some mention of the topic. Yet, sustainability has always been a focus of Mountain Woods Furniture.” He explained how they primarily use “dead standing” aspen trees for their furniture. That usage provides them with the raw materials to create unique beds, armoires, tables and chairs--but also cutting those dead trees makes the forest healthier!” The sustainability efforts do not stop with their wood selection. Dee O’Connell speaks to their careful selection of finishes and sanding methods that help keep their “family” of workers healthy and safe. “We want our customers to feel good about every aspect of our furniture—even the handcrafting and finishing process,” she said.
For more information, please contact , Mountain Woods Furniture at 866-689-6637.
- Category: Media
Reclaimed Wood Furniture From Mountain Woods Furniture Featured in Natural Dream Home
Friday, February 06, 2009
By: Furniture World Magazine
Even in this challenging economy, sustainability and green manufacturing are still hot topics in 2009 says Mountain Woods Furniture. Green thinking, they add favors American furniture manufacturers, since transportation is a large factor in the carbon footprint of a heavy product. Locally-produced furniture not only puts more Americans to work, but it also has an intrinsic advantage for green consumers. For this reason, USA-built furniture was primarily selected for the 2008 Natural Dream Home project sponsored by Mountain Living magazine.
According to the Dream Team, “Mountain Living’s Natural Dream Home incorporates building materials and practices that preserve the health of our high-country environment and serve as living classrooms for sustainable and ecological building, design and development. Designed and constructed to surpass Built Green standards, using natural, reclaimed and organic materials wherever possible, this extraordinary home exemplifies Mountain Living’s commitment to responsible development in the Rocky Mountain West.”
|The developer, Margie Hamrick, president of EcoExistence, notes that “There are many ways to build green without increasing the budget. For example, using local products and materials reduces transportation and fuel costs.” She continues, “My goal was to put together a team of professionals in the green community. Eventually, my community grew beyond the Vail Valley, into Denver and across the country. Using recycled materials is another way to reduce costs while going green.”
American-made reclaimed furniture was featured in a few of the rooms, and one of the most popular bedrooms featured the Wyoming Collection™ from Mountain Woods Furniture®, based in Laramie Wyoming. In selecting this furniture, the Mountain Living Dream Team was not only impressed with the beautiful designs and meticulous craftsmanship, but they recognized the manufacturer’s long-standing commitment to green building practices. As a Founding Member of the Sustainable Furniture Council, Mountain Woods Furniture® made the commitment long ago to use mostly reclaimed or “dead-standing” wood, and where necessary, supplement those wood sources with sustainably-sourced, locally-harvested woods. Scraps from production are used to efficiently heat the facility during the long Wyoming winters, and they use low-VOC stain and water-based finishes, minimizing indoor air pollution.
|Nevertheless, all the green manufacturing processes in the world won’t help sell furniture if it isn’t well-made, beautifully designed, and durably finished. So, the Dream Team was thrilled to have their judgment confirmed when they heard praise heaped on the Wyoming Collection™ from the public and designers who toured the mansion during its many showings in 2008 and 2009. The final showing of this magnificent furnished mountain home was on January 31, 2009 at the Habitat for Humanity’s Gala Preview Party. Proceeds for the extravaganza were donated to Habitat for Humanity to build homes for needy families.
Designers and retailers who are not based in the Rocky Mountains will be able to preview the Wyoming Collection™ and the full line of Mountain Woods Furniture® designs at the Las Vegas World Market Center, February 9-13, 2009 (Building C-Floor 13, Lodge Living, Suite C-1376M/N).
- Category: Media
Benefits of Using Aspen Wood for Furniture
Aspen is one of the most widely distributed trees in North America—they are found from Alaska to Arizona and from Michigan to Maine. Two different species occur in North America: the bigtooth aspen located primarily in the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes Region, and quaking aspen — a western species. The scientific names reflect the leaves appearance. Populus grandidentata (bigtooth aspen) have large teeth around the edges and Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen) have skinny leaf stems that cause them to quiver in the slightest breeze.
Stands of aspen trees are clones—that is they are genetically identical. Trees in these clone groups have a common root system and, through suckering, reproduce new stems. It is very rare that aspen trees reproduce with seeds in the forest due to their small size and competition with other plants. Aspen are shade-intolerant. They require full sunlight to grow and reproduce.
The clones are maintained through what ecologists refer to as “disturbance.” Historically, that disturbance was wild fire. As aspen stands matured shade-tolerant conifers would grow up underneath the aspen. When wild fire swept through the area, killing the trees, it created the perfect environment for aspen to flourish. Because the aspen root system was already established, regeneration could quickly grow in the open sunlight and with no competition from other plants.
Additionally, vegetative reproduction by suckers generally requires a disturbance or dieback that alters the hormonal balance within the tree. Basically, when the parent tree is killed or stressed, reproduction by suckering is stimulated. This stress or dieback was usually the wildfire that also removed the conifer competition.
Ecologists consider aspen a “keystone” species in the West. Generally speaking, the removal of a keystone species would cause a substantial part of the community to change drastically. Wildlife, recreation, wood products—lots depends on it. Millions of dollars are spent each year just from visitors traveling to view the fall colors.
The loss of native aspen groves in areas of the Rocky Mountains is reaching crisis proportions, having declined as much as 50-95 percent in certain areas. As we prevent forest fires, we, ironically, reduce the amount of aspen. Because there are fewer fires the conifers often grow taller than the aspen and shade the aspen out. People want to see the beautiful fall colors, but they are disappearing.
Aspen stands are declining because of a lack of natural disturbance. If we want to keep aspen we can either allow these disturbances to return or we need to mimic the stand-replacing disturbance. However, large stand replacement fires are difficult to control and are generally not favored by the public. In absence of wildfire, harvesting the timber is a viable option. In order to save the aspen we actually need to start cutting to save aspen. Also, by harvesting the trees we provide quality wood with many uses.
Aspen log furniture is one of those uses. Aspen wood is beautiful, lightweight, and straight grained. Because some of the wood we use comes from dead standing timber, insect etchings provide fascinating character.
Aspen is good wood to work with because it is easy to shape and resists splitting. Because the wood is “soft” it typically uses less electric power to saw and shape. Additionally, because most of aspen log furniture is made from round wood or logs, there is less sawing and shaping.
Aspen log furniture is sustainable for both the aspen stands and American society.
About the Authors
Dave Case is President of D. J. Case & Associates and a Certified Wildlife Biologist.
Tim Longwell currently is completing a doctoral degree in forestry at Purdue University in addition to his duties at D. J. Case.
Since 1986 DJ Case has specialized in natural resources communications. Among their honors and awards, the Indiana Wildlife Federation selected them as the Conservation Organization of the Year in 1996.
For more information contact, D. J. Case & Associates, (574)-258-0100 or www.DJCase.com