Next Generation Woodworking: Part Two

Sandra Wood

Miss part one? Check it out here!

 

Imatree is passionate about the environment and weaves this into the business. Founder Lucas Pudsey believes it’s essential for the industry to consider its environmental impact. With dependence on a steady supply of materials to maintain business, it’s easy to operate unsustainably, but Pudsey believes that practice will not pay off in the future. Noting the recent shortages in some materials, he believes that the deficit is not necessarily indicative of unsustainable practices but proof that even renewal resources have a limit if not correctly acquired. Pudsey also believes that sustainable practices are beneficial to everyone, including the planet. The industry needs to use processes less wasteful and destructive to the environment but allow materials to be adequately replenished while still being affordable and available to customers. Pudsey says, “it’s about being mindful and respectful to this planet which provides for us.”

A symbolic company logo

“Imatree’s logo is symbolic of the products we sell which come from trees, as well as the growth and accomplishments we are all achieving,” said Pudsey. “We face a lot of harsh wind in business and life, but if we have our roots, our core values, firmly embedded in the ground, and we work together to persevere, we will grow as strong as an Oak Tree.” That’s why Imatree’s logo is an oak tree.

“Trees are also a vital resource not only to our industry but to our planet, creating oxygen and trapping carbon dioxide from our atmosphere,” added Pudsey. “I believe we have strong ties to the natural world; when you look at your fingertip, it’s identical to the growth rings of a tree. We are all drawn to nature, whether it be a beautiful piece of wood furniture or going for a hike through the woods. Imatree recognizes that instinctive link to it.”

The company sources sustainable wood from their sheet goods suppliers and locally sourced wood for their wood products. They buy from suppliers that also provide recovered materials like barn wood which is highly sought after by some customers.

“Even though our industry is predicated on cutting down trees, we can still do this in a way to cause less impact on the environment around where we source our wood,” said Pudsey. “We use water-based finishes with low VOC or all-natural wood oils for some of our smaller projects.”

As Imatree grows, they plan to invest in tree planting initiatives and hope to take the entire team to BC or Northern Ontario in the future. In the meantime, they have found one interesting local program called the Burlington Honour Roll of Trees, which started 60 years ago. Imatree plans to sponsor this program by taking over the legacy of a previous volunteer who for 20 years catalogued and installed plaques on trees of historical significance. A purely volunteer-run initiative, Imatree is excited about the idea of taking responsibility from the previous sponsor, the Burlington Horticultural Society, in revitalizing the program.

Reconciling with the environment

Pudsey believes our industry could argue that even though you have to cut down trees and use machinery to do so, exhausting carbon can still be a carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative proposition. Why? In Pudsey’s opinion, wood traps carbon that would be released if burned or decayed. If wood is sourced in a sustainable way, which he believes can be done in multiple ways, selective cutting is bad and takes tremendous amounts of gas-powered machinery to extract logs. But it’s also good because if you allow a forest to become too dense, it could trigger a wildfire that would otherwise release more carbon than the machinery releases in the harvesting process. This is an exciting way of looking at things. Pudsey also believes that if the industry is mindful in practice, it could move in the right direction and be sustainable for the future. As he says: “We work with a renewal resource, with a little thoughtfulness and planning, we could go on forever, trapping carbon and making beautiful products for our homes.”

Water-based solutions

Imatree firmly believes that water-based finishes are a better environmental approach, but some think it is an inferior finish. Solvent-based products require solvent-based solutions for cleaning, which adds to the problem. Imatree uses two layers of primer, sanding between coats, and two layers of topcoat, again sanding between coats.

“We get a phenomenal finish,” said Pudsey. “I have never experienced the layers not sticking. I’ve dragged a key across a finished door to test it, and it dented the door without removing the paint.”

Buy Canadian-built kitchen cabinets

We asked Imatree what they thought of CKCA’s efforts to promote the Canadian industry and the environmental benefits.

“I think seeing the supply chains from other countries being so overwhelmed made people concern themselves more with Canadian-made products,” Pudsey responded. “I have had multiple conversations with clients about the importance of being self-sufficient as a country and not having to rely on others for essential products we need. I don’t think people are out of the mindset to find a product, though. It’s tough for businesses to compete with products made overseas at labour rates that are far less than ours. But I do think that people are understanding the importance of Canadian products or just supporting local businesses in general and the benefits in doing so.”

While Imatree gets positive responses from clients about their consciousness of the environment, Pudsey is realistic about it all.

“Customers just haven’t got enough information about the pros and cons of imported cabinets,” explained Pudsey. “Our job is to provide service to our clients to help them make informed decisions. If our customer is hesitant on the price of Canadian-made cabinets, then we have not provided them with enough information to help them make that informed decision.”

Leads online

Pudsey positions the company advertising as the highest quality, with custom cabinetry being first and foremost while remaining affordable for homeowners looking to add some luxury features to their homes. The company acquires most of its leads through online advertising, networking groups, or word of mouth from previous clients. A particular business networking group they contribute to allows them to acquire commercial customers seeking work for retail spaces or handmade inventory, real estate investors who flip homes, and general contractors looking to outsource cabinetmaking. Imatree finds these leads are less customizable, so they can be more economical to fit customers’ particular interests. The company knows the importance of having steady work and building relationships with potential partners in the industry.

The future is right here

It was so interesting speaking with Pudsey and seeing his passion for the industry and the values embraced within his company. Pudsey knows that the future means more automation, and attracting young tradespeople is an ongoing concern. Imatree also had the foresight to join CKCA and be part of something bigger. Imatree is doing its part to respect its clients, environment, and community and add their voice to our industry. We can’t wait to see where this young company goes!

CKCA Members strive for quality, professionalism, and innovation. For more profiles like these and many other benefits, consider becoming a CKCA member!

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