Case Studies

WoodRight Forest Products

Local, sustainable wood products that support communities in central Appalachia

Many contractors and project owners have little idea where their lumber truly comes from. Buying is often a straightforward, no-questions-asked process, but WoodRight Forest Products offers an alternative. The company has been in business since 2010. Based in Abingdon, Virginia, WoodRight works closely with nonprofits, regional forests and small, family-owned manufacturers to provide buyers with sustainable forest products for homes and businesses.

“WoodRight is actually run by rural economic development and environmental protection nonprofits,” says Kevin Rowe, business development director for WoodRight. “By definition, our organization is a social enterprise rather than a typical company.”

WoodRight is a marketing and economic platform for a network of companies located in economically distressed counties across the country. The business works with a number of companies that are too small to have their own marketing platform. The organization is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and has helped 70 smaller manufacturers become certified as well – all connected through the Central Appalachian Forestry Alliance (CAFA).

Good wood

The company serves as a one-stop marketplace for regionally grown and crafted sustainable hardwood building products. WoodRight’s primary function is to connect general contractors with millwrights for both commercial and residential projects.

“We are the single source for paperwork, LEED certification, managing the relationship with the owner and who should do the project,” says Rowe. “We do this while working to improve the economic, social, and environmental aspects of the communities we work in. We have those three pillars of sustainability imbedded in our logo.”

WoodRight Forest ProductsBy serving as the go-between between producers, processors and contractors and end users, WoodRight fosters unique relationships and connections within the industry. The organization improves consumer access to local, sustainable wood, while boosting exposure for small businesses. The team of 12 employees offers guidance throughout the process, including providing information, quoting materials, scheduling and service.

The company’s lineup includes quality wood floors, walls, ceilings, millwork, cabinets and more, all produced and crafted to meet green building specifications. All of the lumber and value-added wood products are conservation-grade products that reduce wood waste, and come from responsibly managed forests. The sale of these items benefit people in the community and keep money local to central Appalachia.

Unique undertakings

WoodRight has been involved in a range of projects and initiatives over recent years. The company has introduced a new product, StakWood. Made of wood waste, StakWood utilizes scrap pieces that are typically discarded. The product has the texture of stacked stone, but the warmth of wood. It was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as one of the top three products of the year.

The company’s products, such as StakWood and other Appalachian hardwoods, have been installed in a number of unique projects. WoodRight supplied regional hickory lumber for the construction of Heartwood, Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway. Heartwood was built to showcase the food, crafts, music and local food of the region and WoodRight wood was the perfect fit for the building’s story.

WoodRight also supplied the hardwood for The Jubilee House: Retreat and Conference Center in Abingdon, Virginia. Products included poplar wood for ceilings, white oak walls and trim and hard maple casework, all sourced from central Appalachian forests and small businesses.

Continuing to serve the environment and community

Rowe and his colleagues take great pride in the business as both an economic entity and a sustainable community partnership. “This business was not designed to turn a profit,” he explains. “We contribute to the annual revenue of several companies and organizations. We are also part of the USGBC, which allows us to network with like-minded people and companies that share our values. It’s a great resource for folks to get together.”

The team enjoys seeing the companies it works with thrive in the woods they work while encouraging the contribution to sustainability. “It is important to be using what we have here at home rather than source wood from China,” Rowe explains. “It is about trying to keep the wealth here in the region. From a sustainable perspective, I hope that we continue to grow our certification group and the impact that we have among the manufacturers with whom we work and the building professionals who source from us. It is also important to keep in mind our mission, providing customers with beautiful wood, with a business that respects the environment and supports communities.”

Rowe and the rest of the company will continue to keep the WoodRight Forest Products – and its mission – moving forward in the years to come.

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