Strong demand fuels Windfall Lumber's growth

Windfall_CoppinsWell_lobby_big   CPTC stairs Daily Journal of Commerce By LYNN PORTER Windfall Lumber used salvaged beams from the Heidelberg Brewery in Tacoma to create this feature wall inside the Coppins Well apartments on First Hill. Seattle architecture firm Weber Thompson turned to Windfall Lumber when it wanted to create a feature wall in the lobby of the recently opened Coppins Well apartment project on First Hill. Olympia-based Windfall provided beams salvaged from the Heidelberg Brewery in Tacoma that were used to create a gently curving wall of stacked fir blocks. “There are imperfections in the wood in this wall that really make it beautiful,” said Carrie Smith, a principal and head of the interior design studio at Weber Thompson. Smith said Windfall is providing salvaged lumber for feature elements in two other local multifamily projects her firm is working on. They include apartments for developer Pryde + Johnson at the site of the old Ballard Library. Weber Thompson will use glu-lam fir beams pulled from the library during demolition, which will be fashioned by Windfall into interior and exterior pieces. Among the pieces being considered are a large sliding wood door and benches for the rooftop deck and front entry created with full sections of the beams, Smith said. Windfall also helped salvage patinaed copper flashing from the library roof, which it will help Weber Thompson fashion into a feature wall in the main lobby. “Ofttimes we'll come up with an idea and they'll add the reality of how to use it,” Smith said of Windfall. “They've been a huge help to achieve the look we want.” Windfall Lumber manufactures and sells architectural wood products. The products are created using Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber, which comes from Northwest forests managed with sustainable principles. The company is also using lumber reclaimed from school gyms and classrooms, granaries and lumber mills. Most of the products are designed for commercial spaces: retail, hospital and corporate interiors, although some are used in residential projects, primarily as wood countertops. Douglas fir beams saved from a demolished building at Clover Park Technical College were re-sawn and finished as stairs in a local library. hoto by Kathy Strauss “Basically all of our stuff you can see,” said Scott Royer, Windfall's chief executive officer. “None of it is hidden, and none of it is structural.” While many sustainable building elements are often hidden from the public, Windfall's products are meant to be seen. Royer said they are “the icing on the cake that gives the user an experience of sustainable design.” Starbucks buys Windfall products for its stores, and Amazon.com and Google use them in their office space. Kaiser Permanente is using the products in a medical facility in Southern California, Evergreen State College has used them in an auditorium and performance lobby, and Chicago-based Native Foods is using them in its cafes. Windfall products may also be found in boutiques and other cafes. Windfall makes engineered architectural panels with FSC-certified medium-density fiberboard inside and reclaimed lumber outside, then clads them in reclaimed fir, African hardwood and maple for use on interior spaces such as restaurant walls and hotel front desk feature walls. The cladding comes in a number of colors, textures and sizes. The company also manufactures tables and countertops made largely of FSC wood, gym flooring, telephone poles rejected by the manufacturer and Northwest hardwoods. Customers go to windfalllumber.com to request samples, product specifications and installation instructions. The company generally ships to job sites, general contractors or installers. Cladding costs $9 to $14 per square foot, pre-finished. Tables with a metal base run $1,500 to $4,000, depending on the size and complexity. Starbucks has 13,000 U.S. stores, and Windfall Lumber is the wood products vendor for stores in the western region, said Jon Wagner, senior designer for licensed Starbucks stores. Starbucks uses Windfall's products in casework and architectural wood cladding. Windfall also makes custom objects, such as ceiling cladding, wall panels and tabletops, for the stores, he said. Maple flooring from deconstructed textile mills clads the bar at Olympia Roasting Coffee Co. in the Wildwood Building in Olympia. “They're a great company with good ability to personalize the experience for people who use them,” Wagner said. He said Windfall products are sustainable and natural, like Starbucks organic coffees. Using Windfall products in the stores helps Starbucks make the abstract idea of organic “tangible and touchable,” he said. Windfall Lumber was founded in 1997. Royer bought it in 2001, when the then three-person company was getting FSC-certified and salvaged wood from urban sites and selling it as lumber. Over the years, reclaimed wood became more prominent at Windfall and in the industry. Royer said he expanded the company's product line to include manufactured products, and secured more sources of wood. The company now has 25 employees, but was down to seven in the recession when the market was hit hard. Windfall has had a “very significant increase in revenues and associated profits for the last few years,” Royer said. “We're feeling like the market is very, very strong.” He declined to provide revenue figures for the privately held firm, but said revenue has risen 30 to 50 percent, year-over-year starting in 2009. Windfall is careful to ensure it has wood lined up so that it can guarantee particular products will be available in the future, he said. “We don't want to box ourselves in on the sources.” Among its competitors are White City, Ore.-based TerraMai — which has worked on projects for companies such as Google, Ritz-Carlton and Nike — and Pioneer Millworks, which is in Portland and Farmington, N.Y. Pioneer's clients include Cabela's, Eileen Fisher and Urban Outfitters. Royer said the larger companies, such as his, have figured out the systems, marketing and delivery of products to larger audiences. That type of scale is difficult without a lot of capital, he said. Post-recession, Royer said, more smaller mom-and-pop operations have been trying to get into the field, which is good. “It just brings more awareness of the products.”

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