Tuesday June 29, 2010

VERNON -- Operating out of a spare room of a Vernon farmhouse, one Vermont business has quickly gained a national reputation for supplying quality furniture from sustainable sources around the Green Mountain State.

Vermont Woods Studios, a five-year old company specializing in marketing handcrafted furniture, has caught the eye of several nationally broadcasted programs as a leader in promoting sustainably harvested pieces.

Peggy Farabaugh, co-owner of Vermont Woods Studios with her husband, Ken, appeared on The Strategy Room on FOX News Channel on May 14 to talk about sustainable business management.

What’s sustainable about furniture, Farabaugh is oftentimes asked. To answer that question, she points to the combination of locally-made furniture with environmental policies of forest stewardship and preservation, which is part of the business’ mission.

"You can help the environment with your purchasing power," she said.

Next month, she will travel to Atlanta to speak to the Weather Channel’s Mark Elliot on The Lightning Rod to discuss the link between furniture and the weather.

Farabaugh also can make a similar sustainability link to weather and furniture.

Up to 90 percent of purchased furniture in the United States are imported and made from illegally clear-cutted wood from the rainforests, which play a role in regulating the global weather by producing oxygen.


Advertisement

Instead of having the rain forests disappear for timber sales, Farabaugh said choosing American-made furniture can decrease the demand for illegally harvested wood.

The Weather Channel program will air live sometime in late July or early August.

The Farabaughs have built a successful business through utilizing woodworkers, like Ken, who specialize in Vermont-made furniture but do not like the marketing aspect of the profession.

So the couple launched an Internet business to work with businesses making furniture in the Green Mountain State. Roughly 15 companies scattered throughout Vermont work with Farabaugh using the traditional methods to construct green, sustainably harvested furniture from well-managed forests throughout New England.

And there’s a lifetime guarantee, said Farabaugh, proud of the high quality Vermont woodworkers can provide.

"We try to help preserve their craft," she said. "Because in economic times like this, people are really leaning toward cheaper priced furniture that doesn’t have the same quality. We want to help these guys preserve the tradition of fine-furniture making."

Cabinet maker Greg Goodman, a residential and commercial woodworker operating out of The Cotton Mill in Brattleboro, has worked with the Farabaughs for years.

About 10-15 percent of his business comes from Vermont Woods Studios.

From his studio, Goodman takes photographs of his completed pieces, such as his old-English style trestle table, and sends them to Farabaugh, who places them online as part of the extended website.

"That is very helpful to use because if we had to deal with the telephone inquires, it eats up a lot of time," he said. "So she filters all that and only passes on serious customers."

Woodworks like Goodman can customize orders through Vermont Woods Studio, or simply get matched with a customer to find the best fit for both the consumer and the furniture maker.

"We’re going to connect you with somebody who is going to give you the best quality and the best price," said Farabaugh.

On the Web: www.vermontwoodsstudios.com.

Chris Garofolo can be reached at cgarofolo@reformer.com or 802-254-2311 ext. 275.