Preserving a Legacy

Henderson Lumber Mills

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

"By restoring and repurposing the things that we do already have, especially large items like chairs, bed frames, and doors, we are able to save that piece from the landfill while also reducing the demand for the materials and labor that would go into producing a new one." They also take what many would consider scraps and try to find applications for it. This is an incredibly unique and sustainability-supporting skill that has saved over 2,000 pounds of wood.

Authors

Emely Vargas

Emely Vargas

Zara Ahsan

Zara Ahsan

Jayvian Candelario

Jayvian Candelario

Faraaz Hussain

Faraaz Hussain

School

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU)

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU)

Professor

Aixa Ritz

Aixa Ritz

Innovation

Henderson Lumber’s efforts to become a sustainable lumber mill have contributed to amazing innovations from this family-owned and operated business. Through their unique skills, they are able to do everything from customizing furniture to turning out new repurposed products from old ones. Their applications of wood that many would consider scrap has also helped save thousands of pounds of wood from landfills, thus contributing to a cleaner world.

Michael Bochner, the current president of the company and son of the original founder, currently runs the lumber in the heart of Jersey City. Through his efforts to build a sustainable company, the lumber yard has developed some incredible ways to save good, usable wood from ending up in the trash. One of their most impressive skills is the ability to make something new from something worn. Mr. Bochner mentioned how they have been able to take something like a worn door and transform it into a tabletop or a desk. In their efforts to “operate their business in an economical and cost effective way”, innovative ideas to save wood from the trash emerged. Instead of buying new material, they found a way to use the wood that they would’ve otherwise lost by repurposing scrap wood into something new that could be as simple as a doorstop. Mr. Bochner mentioned that “Often people bring their old doors to serve as templates for new doors they purchased. We evaluate the condition of the door, and if applicable, repurpose it into something else” as a response to how they repurpose their lumber, “...on many occasions we come up with a solution that allows the customer to use the existing door, which serves 2 purposes: one in saving the customer money, and two, removing the potential from the waste stream.”

Henderson Lumber really believes in the importance of continuing their legacy, as the company was started in 1972 by the current president’s father. When the founder was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1990, his son Mr. Bochner took over the company and left his career as a chemical engineer behind. He explains how “He was given 3-6 months to live. I took care of him and actually brought him to work every day.” The idea and purpose behind Henderson Lumber stretches out from becoming a sustainable pillar of the community through encouraging bicycle use of their employees and offering electric vehicle charging stations, to building doors for many of the houses of worship in the area and really immortalizing their legacy in that way. But for the current president and owner, the drive to do this runs much deeper because as he says, “I still feel that by keeping the business alive, I am keeping a little bit of [my father] alive.”

Preserving a Legacy

Inspiration

Apart from reducing waste and improving wood usage Henderson Lumber also thought of this idea as a business benefit, more than promoting the product they promote the skill sets that they have of turning things which usually people think as waste into applications which can be useful. The main thought behind this idea was using a business application for the earth. The idea of utilizing waste lumber and creating different things does not just benefit the business but also benefits that earth as lumber is non-biodegradable waste. According to the Emergency Protection Agency of USA in the year 2018 landfills received 12.2 million tons of wood, when this came to Mr. Michael Bochner’s attention he got the idea of turning this into an opportunity that his company can benefit from. Henderson Lumber is a legacy of Mr. Bochner’s father, he wanted to make sure that not just him but even the world benefits from his father’s legacy, he wanted to create a positive outcome of the business so people recognize his father’s legacy as something much more than a normal business that is in the market to make money. Henderson Lumber’s initiative has played a very positive role in building the image of the company and it has been good for marketing as well. All these positive outcomes of the innovation encouraged Mr. Bochner to keep on going with innovation and keep thinking of new ideas.

Overall impact

Through their innovations to improve wood usage and reduce waste, Henderson Lumber has been able to not only save money on new materials, but also build a loyal customer base that has provided a steady stream of reliable income over their career. Through their craftsmanship, they have also established themselves as a pillar of their community, and their impact is indelible throughout their native Jersey City. Many churches, synagogues, and mosques throughout the area host beautifully crafted wood and glass doors from Henderson Lumber. The expertise is such that, upon closely looking at a news article about a car being pursued by the police that crashed into the doors of a church, Mike Bochner was able to recognize the doors as that of Henderson Lumber. By the time the pastor approached the business for replacements, Bochner had already prepared a quote, along with approval drawings.

Their business has provided jobs for nearly fifty years. They are family owned and operated, and they bring this aspect to every part of what they do, down to the banner on their website. This caring nature has even extended to the environment and their efforts to protect and preserve it. Through their refusal to deem scrap as useless, they are constantly searching for new applications of material that would otherwise end up in the trash: “It could be something simple as a doorstop, that was actually a cutoff of dimensional lumber, 4"-12" long, that we would cut at an angle, to something more complex as a table or desk, fabricated from repurposed doors, using the hole drilled for locksets as a path for wiring to be concealed.” Short-term, this helps with reducing the amount of trash they produce, and saves them money on trash removal services by slowing the rate at which they fill up dumpsters. The long-term effects of reducing trash are vast; we all know the Earth needs more plants and less waste to pollute it, and by finding ways to save more trees from being cut down by repurposing and reusing wood, we are also contributing to cleaner air and more habitats for wildlife.

Business benefit

The innovation and goal of Henderson Lumber is to recycle wood as much as they can in order to create a more sustainable company. Henderson Lumber essentially takes old, used up wood and restores the piece of wood to make it more valuable to their customers. Not only is restoring old wood used to help customers, but they are also helping save the environment, save materials, and save money. By recycling wood, Henderson Lumber can transform the wood and use it to their benefit. For example, turning an old wooden door into a wooden table or desk. Henderson Lumber preserves natural resources which helps save cost as using materials to cut a tree is more costly than just restoring old wood. Landfill sites have been very popularized as they are used to dump wood, but they have been recently increasing their price making it more expensive for the company to dump wood. When Henderson Lumber chooses to recycle their wood, they avoid the extra fees that come with landfill sites.

Social and environmental benefit

Henderson Lumber has many environmental and social benefits. About 10-20% of the wood used in their production is sourced from post consumer material, a resource which has been diverted from the general waste stream to their recycling facility. Once processed into smaller chips, the material undergoes several cleaning stages across multiple sites to remove impurities before being used in a variety of board products. Over 70% of our wood is sourced from FSC certified plantations, a practice which supports the sustainable management of plantation pine. Around 75% of the feedstock for our board products is classed as pre-consumer recycled content. This is a by-product from other manufacturing processes which is diverted into systems for further up-stream product manufacture.

Interview

Michael Bochner, President

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Henderson Lumber Mills

Henderson Lumber Mills

Jersey City, NJ, US

Business Website: https://hendersonlumber.com

Year Founded: 1972

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Henderson Lumber is a family-owned and operated lumber mill in Jersey City, NJ. They are known for their sales and distribution for homes, businesses, and churches in the geographic area. In addition to ordinary business operations like processing and sales of building materials, they also provide a unique service in customizing things like doors and other building materials for unique customized applications with specialized measurements. In addition to fueling their delivery vehicles with diesel, they also provide bicycle parking and electric vehicle charging stations for their employees. Their calling card is their unique skill in repurposing, restoring, and customizing wood products. They have been able to take doors and build tables from them, as well as desks. They also take what many would consider scraps and try to find applications for it. This is an incredibly unique and sustainability-supporting skill that has saved over 2,000 pounds of wood.