Only a few more days and we can kick 2020 to the curb!
Since we all continue to ride the bad news/good news roller coaster, let’s re-cap where we’ve landed this month, shall we? As I write this, we're all are being asked to hunker down this holiday season and skip the large family gatherings as numbers of COVID cases continue to rise in Vermont; but the good news is that at least one COVID-19 vaccine is officially on its way.
In other bad news/good news, Dave Redmond with the Northern Forest Center is retiring this month from his work helping wood product manufacturers to grow and prosper, and we’ll miss him. However, he tells me he’ll still be doing a bit of contract work, and the Center is hiring to replace his position. Check out the listing here. We all wish Dave a happy retirement!
This month we are winding down a variety of marketing and business coaching projects for several woodworking businesses through a COVID Recovery grant we received through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. We and our partners at the Vermont Wood Works Council, Northern Forest Center, UVM Extension and VHCB are grateful we could help some of Vermont’s talented woodworkers take better advantage of the necessary shift to online shopping.
We have two profile stories to share this month, and together they should solve your holiday shopping and shipping dilemmas. The first features 2017 SBA Vermont Small Business Person of the Year Mike Rainville and his family at Maple Landmark. These hard-working folks may as well be elves, with all the incredible toys and gifts they are crafting at their Middlebury shop. And the other story takes a look at Sylvacurl, an East Hardwick company that makes eco-friendly packing material out of wood shavings. In fact, owner Jim Lovinsky tells me they’re growing and in search of a new supplier of popple blocks.Contact Jim here if you can help him out!
Let’s face it, folks. It’s been a challenging year, to say the least. But as these two stories remind us, there's still a lot to be optimistic about. If nothing else, we’ve all been forced to stop, take a step back and re-evaluate what’s most important: our families, our health, and our happiness. The work will be there, and so will new challenges – and opportunities. Let’s use this Network we're building to help each other find a better normal in the coming year.
Grants available to help with permitting - Value-added forest products businesses who are planning a project that will require permitting should check out the Vermont Value-Added Forest Products Permitting Assistance Grant Program (FPPA grants). Grants of up to $5,000 are available to assist with costs such as state and local permit fees, engineering, and expert witness testimony. Funds are awarded to eligible applicants on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information visit: https://fpr.vermont.gov/fppagrants.
Gagnon Lumber Wins FSC Leadership Award - Gagnon Lumber in Pittsfield was named one of the recipients of the 2020 Forest Stewardship Council Leadership Awards for 'decades of responsible management of 1,000 acres of certified northern hardwoods forest in Vermont, feeding its FSC-certified lumber mill and supplying construction markets in the Northeast.'
Resourceful Vermonters have long looked to the forest for wood heat, building materials, and furniture, but Jim Lovinsky, owner of Sylvacurl in East Hardwick, may be among the first to see an alternative to plastic packing peanuts. Continue reading here.
Mike Rainville, founder and owner of Maple Landmark, landed his first wholesale account at age 15, when a traveling salesman noticed the wooden tic tac toe boards Mike had for sale at the Lincoln General Store. That was 1979. Today, Maple Landmark supplies wooden toys—including the tic tac toe and cribbage boards that gave Mike his start—to thousands of gift shops around the world, employing 37 people at its 28,000 square-foot facility in Middlebury, Vermont. Read the full story here.
Vermont Forest Industry Network Steering Committee
Trevor Allard, Allard Lumber; Liz Gleason, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board; Dave Frank, Sunwood Biomass; Paul Frederick, VT Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation; Charlie Hancock, North Woods Forestry; Lucas Jenson, Treehouse Hardwoods and Mill Shop and Vermont Wood Works Council; Ricky McLain, Woodworks; Michael Rainville, Maple Landmark; Joe Short, Northern Forest Center; Tim Tierney, VT Agency of Commerce and Community Development; Allan Thompson, Consulting Forester
Network Coordinator: Christine McGowan, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund