Unique Materials for Unique Pieces

Grace Tatigian

“The beauty of this business is that even after 30 years, there’s still plenty of new things to learn every day. Easy to keep the passion alive!”

That’s precisely the kind of thing I love to hear from people I’m interviewing for an article, and Jeff Scott, General Manager at CWP Architectural, brought plenty of that kind of energy to the conversation.

Based in Mississauga, CWP is one of North America’s premier buyers and sellers of veneer, tropical lumber, specialty items, and paneling. They supply to specialty lumber retailers, architects, and designers across the continent. It’s a job and field that is well-suited to Scott.

“I grew up on a large family farm in Southern Ontario, located about two hours west of Toronto. When I wasn’t working on the farm, I was either cutting wood in the bush or in the shop, working on a carpentry project. All these years later, that love of wood is still very much alive!” 

It’s hard not to be enthusiastic about wood when you’re working with the quality and unique pieces that CWP has to offer. They offer a range of slabs, including live-edge pieces and a wide variety of species and sizes that are ideal for tables. Live edge has been a huge trend in one-of-a-kind furniture-making over the last few years. I wanted to know how designers can go about selecting the right piece for the project in cases like these.

“We’ve got a bit of a showroom, but our strength is our online presence,” Scott explained. 

CWP offers a client portal where customers can peruse a wide variety of high-quality pictures of the different pieces they offer. CWP is for businesses looking for something that you can’t find at a run-of-the-mill lumber yard or for companies that are having trouble importing the wood themselves. CWP has a global selection, featuring many varieties from South America and Africa.

“Exotic woods have different flavours,” explained Scott. “They have different colours, grains, and applications. They might better for exterior use; they’re also really big in the woodturning market.”

Another common use for this kind of wood is for making musical instruments. CWP works with a few medium-scale manufacturers who use woods such as Spanish Cedar to make instruments like flamenco and classical guitars. The wood is more closely related to true Mahoganies rather than cedar.

They also have a collection of what they call ‘one-time pieces,’ a revolving inventory of unique pieces, and can work with clients to track down the specific tropical woods or pieces they need to make their project possible. The architecture and designer community makes up a large portion of CWP Architectural’s customer base, and often they have something particular in mind.

“It’s like going deep into a wine cellar looking for the perfect vintage,” said Scott, continuing his taste analogy. “There’s a real beauty to these raw materials.”

Part of what keeps these raw materials beautiful is the care that CWP takes in collecting them.

“We take great pride in ensuring that all of our products are sourced from sustainably managed supply chain with great focus on reduced environmental impact,” explained Scott. “We take responsible forest management seriously and are committed to sourcing and offering products in accordance with the standards set by the Program for the Endorsement of Forestry (PEFC), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).”

This commitment to sustainability is just one of the reasons why CWP has been around for so long. Founded in 1973 as Gen Woods and Veneers, the company has undergone many changes over the years but has maintained its commitment to quality, variety, and specialty products. CWP had been the go-to for specialty lumber in North America for a long time and will likely continue to be.

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