Urban Hardwoods News

At the Center of Seattle’s Urban Manufacturing Movement

November 19, 2015 | By urbanhardwoods


“These days people want to know where things come from—they want to know the backstory,” said Filson President Gray Madden as he sat in front of two stunning hardwood tables. “It’s a trend that’s not going to wear out,” he added. Madden was one of four panelists at a recent Made in Seattle Week event we hosted in our Seattle showroom. With the room full of beautiful locally built wood slab furniture, the setting for the discussion couldn’t have been more ideal.

This growing demand for transparency in sourcing, authenticity, and local connection is being met by an ever-widening community of local Seattle builders, makers, artisans, and craftspeople. And for companies like Filson and us at Urban Hardwoods, it hasn’t been much of a challenge to adjust to this new landscape—we were there all along.

“We started by seeing the potential in waste,” said our General Manager Bryan Reed. “It originally started with seeing logs floating down the river or in the sound and us thinking, ‘we should do something with those.’ That turned out to be much too difficult, and we started making connections with tree service companies in the area because they’re cutting down trees that have to be removed. We didn’t want to see these beautiful trees turned into woodchips.”

Filson, like us, is a member of Seattle Made, an initiative led by the Seattle Good Business Network. Along with organizing events such as Made in Seattle Week, the initiative aims to grow and support Seattle’s urban manufacturing and producer economy. The initiative, which counts among its ranks over 200 local manufacturers and allied organizations, is modeled after the successful efforts of SF Made in San Francisco and other emerging urban manufacturing alliances around the country.

Filson, who has manufactured outdoor gear and apparel in Seattle for over 100 years, shares many of the same values and characteristics with us at Urban Hardwoods. Whether it’s making highly durable, “unfailing” jackets or hand-crafting one-of-a-kind hardwood tables, our companies care about the ethics of our sourcing, prize craftsmanship, and recognize that when it comes to quality, if you want something made to the highest possible standards you had better make it yourself.

We agree with Gray’s assessment. Backstory does matter. We all should care about the origins of the things we buy. That’s why we make sure our salvaged wood furniture is ethically and sustainably sourced. That’s why our craftsmen take the time to instill every one of our pieces with a quality and detail that’s impossible to mass-produce. We don’t go to these great lengths because it’s fashionable; we do it because it’s our longtime passion.

As our Operations Manager Dave Hunzicker puts it, “I love the variety of my job. I love the hands-on, the creativity. And I love that we’re involved in the whole process, from trees to finished furniture. Every week I have a new favorite piece.”