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Local Company Goes Green and International

Columbia Forest Products

Columbia Forest Products, founded in 1957 in Klamath, OR, is North America’s largest manufacturer of plywood and hardwood veneer products. The veneers finish cabinets, furniture and office fixtures are sold all over the world. This employee-owned and operated company made Greensboro, NC home to its corporate office in 2008.

As a company, Columbia Forest Products seeks to improve communities, and asks its employee to do the same. Employees are given one paid day per year to volunteer at a local charity near and dear to their hearts. In Greensboro, many employees use that day to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity, an organization with close ties to the company. Brad Thompson, CEO of Columbia Forest Products, sits on the board of Habitat for Humanity as Chair of Finance. In this position he has been able to strengthen the financial base of Habitat for Humanity with a unique program that Habitat for Humanity has been able to expand to a global level.

This program started with a new product called Pure Bond. Pure Bond is a formaldehyde free process of making hardwood. Pure Bond replaces the urea formaldehyde with a soy-based adhesive, which is cost competitive, and better for the air we breathe.

In 2009, the EPA reported Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. They also said that the air we breathe indoors can be up to five times more polluted than outside air. Volition organic compounds (VOCs) are a leading contributor of indoor pollution. These compounds become gasses from liquid and solid contributors in the buildings. Contributing factors can include paints, stored chemicals and adhesives in products used in the building. These VOCs can cause health problems including kidney and liver damage, central nervous system damage and cancer.

Because of the health problems associated with VOCs, Habitat for Humanity was taking a careful look at the materials used in building their homes. Since their goal was to make the homes as air tight and green as possible, adhesives made with formaldehyde would be a significant problem. At the same time Columbia Forest Products was looking for locations to showcase their new product Pure Bond. Columbia Forest Products began donating the cabinetry for all Habitat Homes build in the Triad. This gave Habitat for Humanity a safer option for the cabinetry in their homes, and allowed the general public to learn more about Pure Bond products.

Columbia Forest Products then made a generous offer to Habitat for Humanity: they could sell cabinetry made from Pure Bond materials locally and keep the profits. The local Habitat for Humanity chapter made good use of this offer. Now they have increased their territory to international chapters of Habitat for Humanity. This program and the hard work of the volunteers for Habitat for Humanity made the Greensboro chapter one of the top ten branches in the country.

Businesses or homeowners interested in purchasing Pure Bond products can find them in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore or at your local Home Depot. They come in a wide variety of local hardwoods such as Birch, Red Oak, Ash, Poplar, Cherry and Mahogany. International hardwoods include Amaranth, Lypus, Rosewood, Tamo, Teak and Zebrawood. •

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