The honor, known as the “Washington Green 50,” is given annually to 50 companies in the state that are leading the way in ecological sustainability, a Spencer Cabinetry news release said.
A regional kitchen cabinet manufacturer, Spencer Cabinetry’s development of new products made from its own manufacturing waste was a major factor in their selection, Carl Spencer, the company’s general manager, said Monday.
The company is now producing solid wood cutting boards and trivets from the remnants of sustainable hardwood used to manufacture its cabinetry, the news release said. The cutting boards come in two sizes: 8 inches by 8 inches and 8 inches by 16 inches.
“We started manufacturing the cutting boards last year, and we thought we would have boatloads of them leftover,” Spencer said. “But all of a sudden people were buying them in quantity to use for Christmas presents. We also use them in conjunction with our main line of kitchen cabinets.”
In addition, Spencer Cabinetry is producing pellet stove fuel from sawdust and shavings from its milling operations.
These pellets are roughly 1/4-inch in diameter and 1-inch long — which is standard pellet fuel size — and can be burned in any pellet stove or furnace, the news release said.
Fuel pellets are considered “carbon neutral” when manufactured from sustainable materials since any carbon dioxide released by burning is consumed entirely by the replacement trees and plants, the news release said.
Spencer Cabinetry, which started experimenting with the fuel pellets in February, Spencer said, has spent months developing a proprietary process that results in a pellet with greater British thermal unit (BTU) density and less ash. A BTU is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. This is the standard measurement used to state the amount of energy that a fuel has as well as the amount of output of any heat generating device, according to an energy industry definition.
As a result of efforts like these, Spencer Cabinetry has reduced its volume of waste by 50 percent at the same time it has grown in production by 100 percent — resulting in a 75 percent total reduction, the news release said.
Spencer said he credits the continuous improvement efforts of his employees and staff, based on the Toyota production system.
“It turns out the leanest manufacturers will likely always be the greenest,” he said.
Spencer Cabinetry also won the award from Seattle Business magazine in 2009, which at that time honored the top 20 greenest companies in the state, Spencer said.
Carl Spencer, who grew up in Ottawa, said he is a former news carrier for The Herald, and was the recipient of the “Outstanding Newspaperboy Award” in 1969. He is a 1975 graduate of Ottawa University. Dottie (Underwood) Spencer graduated from Ottawa High School in 1974. They have owned Spencer Cabinetry for eight years.
“I learned my values in Ottawa, and we have a fondness for the Midwest,” Carl Spencer said.
Taking a page from Starbucks and UPS, both of which were founded as small operations in Seattle, Spencer said he would like to expand his company’s geographic sales territory in the future.
“Right now we sell our products in the Northwest region,” he said, “but we continue to grow and would love to sell our products in the Midwest and other regions in the future.”