Technology is evolving rapidly. Yet, in most ways, Forever Redwood remains in the 19th Century. We manage forestlands and make furniture by hand using only timbers from our own forests. Yes, it is quaint that we do not use pressed sawdust or pressure treated lumber or plastics or any technological anything – just real timbers and stainless steel to fasten together.
Wood, Steel & Handcrafting probably qualifies us as Dinosaurs in our industry. Thank you for being a dinosaur lover. With your help, we are holding on tenaciously to the old ways of doing things. I know you appreciate it and that is why I am taking a moment to transgress and celebrate our 20th year with you.
In the summer of 1994 I was hiking around an overgrown 83 acre parcel on a southfacing slope in Annapolis, CA with my 3 year old daughter Sky. I quickly realized I had found the forestland parcel I had been looking for since 1989. A place that was in the Redwoods, affordable and just overwhelming beautiful and sad at the same time. Sad because of the condition the forest was in after being ravaged by near clear cutting in the 1960’s.
After a couple years of forestry work, we also fell in love with the logs we were finding on the forest floor. Another old friend, Warren Linney, pitched in to purchase a portable mill because the wood was still perfect after a few decades of lying on the ground. Wow. I can still remember clearly the feeling of seeing the first few boards come off the mill. We were stunned by the beauty of the reclaimed Old-Growth. Found, borrowed and/or purchased some books about the Arts & Crafts furniture movement, Stickley furniture and old Sear Roebuck catalogs showing picnic tables and a book on Outdoor Furniture projects. After a bit of discussion, my close friend Frank Marrero and I decided to make furniture of the highest quality for our early supporters as a thank you. One of them, Ronald Harbin of San Rafael, CA, told me we should make them as a way to finance the forest restoration work. This was around 1998. Hell, I could kill the guy for talking us into this!
Frank and I first built tables on the deck of the tiny cabin we had built in the woods. As the business grew, we built a 16 ft x 24 ft Redwood barn that we powered with two Honda Generators that were linked together. Just 2 guys in a barn out in the woods in the 1990’s has become 60 men and women in an 18,000 ft warehouse in 2013. I can never say thank you enought to our dinosaur loving friends that insist on having stuff made the old-fashioned way.
Yes, of course, there are other companies that still make good wood furniture. But, for outdoors, Redwood is the king of the woods. Nothing last longer. Nothing. And, we insist on using the highest grades and only in thick generous amounts. You know the story, but it is true! We do make the longest lasting outdoor furniture on the planet. Just look around and tell us if anyone is doing it better and we will one up them. Yes, the illness runs deep…
Yes, of course, there are still some forestry companies around, but the kind of forestry they practice will never ever bring back big trees like we are doing it. I have ranted about Restoration Forestry many times and our website has plenty of info on it, so I will spare you this one time…
Despite being secure in our dinosaur reality, in 2002, we realized we had to reach out and get technologically relevant or we would not long be standing. Enter Marilyn Hughes. Marilyn is another old friend from the 1980’s. I was telling her one night about our success selling picnic tables via newspaper ads in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. I went on and on like I usually do. She told me she had just finished a course in HTML programming and that she could build Forever Redwood a website to sell our picnic tables online.
Well, I’ll be darn. Next thing you know, we are building tables to ship to Pennsylvania. Heck, we had never made a crate before, nor did we even design our tables to break down into parts for shipping. All we knew how to do was load our fully assembled picnic tables on the back of a pickup and drive them down to the city to sell. Yes, it has been a long ride.
We first started making picnic tables for our local market because the wood was just so beautiful and we knew that many people in Northern California appreciated Redwood. But, when we launched the website, the plan was to sell more in California. It never occurred to us that we would suddenly be shipping stuff nationwide and out of the country overnight.
I am commmited to Restoration Forestry. Other than my family and a good tennis match every once in a while, everyday I work on our website, our forestry work, our shop and product line. We hope to become the industry leader for both excellent forestry and outdoor furniture. In many ways, we already are. We recently built a bench for the President of the United States and our customers are constantly thanking us for the quality of our wood and workmanship. We are not perfect. We still send out some orders late or someone messes up and sends the wrong amount of bolts to reassemble a table from time to time. But, we are striving each day to earn your trust and we have thousands of loyal and repeat customers as a result. Customers that have a piece of the forest in their homes and help us make our mission a reality.
Forever Redwood does not exist to make a bunch of money, but rather to finance the restoration of as many acres of forestland as we can. We are still a tiny company with revenues of under $3,000,000 per year and a few hundred acres of forestland under our belts. But, with your help over the coming decades, we will restore and carefully manage a lot more acreage. Restoration forestry is key to global cooling. Oops. I promised no forestry talk…
Thank you for trusting us with your inbox. Some customers have told me that our story and our mission is commendable. I figured that maybe the story of how it came to be may be of interest. More to come.
Please let me know your thoughts anytime. Yes, you can respond to this email and I will get back to you just like the old days when real people wrote to real people and got responses from real people. Dinosaurs forever may become our new company name.
From the Forest, For the Forest.