By Chase Warner, Wood-Mizer Contributing Author
"Wood-Mizer has been key in allowing us to turn a very underutilized resource into beautiful objects efficiently and profitably.”- Art Blumenkron, Owner of Goby Walnut and Western Hardwoods.
Innovative, forward-thinking, and eco-minded are just a few words to describe Art Blumenkron, owner of the Portland, Oregon based Goby Walnut and Western Hardwoods. In 2006, the well-established Goby Walnut caught the eye of Art, who was searching high and low for an eco-friendly company with the financial capacity to support his family. “I saw that Goby had been around for 30 years and was consistently profitable and continuing to grow,” said Art.
After purchasing the company from previous owner Gary Goby, Art realized that Goby Walnut had untapped potential to salvage local lumber. He decided to move the company from Albany, Oregon to the Northwest Industrial area of Portland where he hired additional employees and invested in a professional website displaying their inventory of hardwood slabs, figured boards, tone wood billets and veneers. This move caused Goby to expand rapidly, adding two sawmills and five dry kilns to increase production and keep up with sales. “Our most important growth asset has been our Goby Team, who from the sawyers to the shop specialists, to the salespeople, log buyer and shop manager have allowed this tremendous growth,” said Art.
Tapping into the wooden treasures found within dead, dying, and diseased hardwoods, Goby Walnut buys logs from tree services, home owners, municipalities, golf courses, and farms. After winning a bid, Goby Walnut mills these logs into lumber, slabs, flooring, butcher block tops, gunstocks and musical instrument blanks. “We make sure all the logs are used for a higher purpose than chips or firewood,” said Art. Goby Walnut utilizes urban trees because keeping them out of landfills is great for the environment. “When logs are turned into lumber, all the carbon the tree has trapped over its lifetime stays in the wood rather than releasing into the air if the tree is burned,” said Art.
Ways that Goby Walnut & Western Hardwoods is making a profit by being environmentally conscious:
-Uses sustainable tree harvesting practices by utilizing downed and damaged urban trees.
-Uses the WM1000 thin-kerf headrig to maximize profits and minimize sawdust from large premium hardwood
-Uses the LT50 Hydraulic sawmill to focus on smaller lumber milling and for quarter sawing sections from the WM1000
-Uses the waste wood to heat his building and has saved thousands on energy bills
Goby Walnut owns both a Wood-Mizer WM1000 industrial headrig and an LT50 Hydraulic portable sawmill. “The WM1000 allows us to buy big logs and handle them efficiently with minimum saw kerf,” said Art. “Many urban logs come from special one-of-a-kind 100 to 400-year-old huge trees that demand special equipment like the WM1000 to maximize yield.” Goby Walnut uses both mills extensively, but utilizes the versatility and log handling capability of the LT50 Hydraulic to speed up production of smaller lumber.
Art is continuing to research how to make his business more efficient and eco-friendly. He is hoping to expand the business within the next few years to include more space for drying lumber. The entrepreneur is driven by customer satisfaction and a love for the environment. “I enjoy making people happy and seeing the wide variety of projects and creative opportunities that come my way every day,” he said. “Helping use urban trees and keeping them from landfills, is great for the environment and very satisfying.”
To learn more about Art and Goby Walnut and Western Hardwoods, visit www.gobywalnut.com.
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