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Boston Business Journal - July 7, 2008

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Staples Cabinet Makers gives wood a second chance

Boston Business Journal - by Marley Schneier Special to the Journal

PLAINVILLE  One man's trash is another man's ... furniture? So say Stephen and Christine Staples, who can mold leftover wood from a long-dead steamship company into the perfect material for a table.

The husband-and-wife team have been working with furniture for 34 years. Staples Cabinet Makers, a furniture-making company based in Plainville, specializes in eco-friendly furniture made with reclaimed wood that's been recycled from previous structures.

Their business was around long before the so-called "green movement" the recent trend that has seen businesses and consumers go to extremes in search of more energy efficient products and services.

Indeed, the green movement's principles haves been part of Staples Cabinet Makers' way of doing business for over a decade.

"Right now it's a fad, but we've been doing this for 11 years" said Stephen Staples.

Often, Staples finds his treasures from trash, and the help of friends.

"If a dumpster lands in front of a house, the phone will be ringing off the hook within a minute" said Staples. He claims the furniture "finds" him, not the other way around. "It's the only chance it's got for a second life. It knows that."

Staples does business with other green companies, such as Ashland, Wis.-based Timeless Timber, which harvests lumber from the depths of lakes and rivers. Competitors have also caught on to the eco-friendly movement.

Crate and Barrel recently put out its Bento Bamboo line, furniture made from bamboo, which grows far faster than wood and comes without the downside of deforestation. Likewise, IKEA offers recyclable furniture through its PS collection, which uses recycled wood. But Staples doesn't lose sleep over the big competitors, Staples said.

"The people who come here aren't the people who go to IKEA" said Staples. "Every piece is one-of-a-kind."

The company's furniture prices range from a $2,495 for farm table all the way up to $9,000 for a 12-foot table made from extinct American Sweet Chestnut wood. The wood hails from an old North Carolina tobacco barn.

While the majority of Staples' customers are local, the company also gets business from as far off as Texas. Staples attributes the rise in popularity to the company's Web site, which was established in 2005.

Some pieces have sold to customers in Europe and the Caribbean.

Staples has also teamed up with interior designers to increase business.

Amy Mileikis, of Niemitz Design Group in Boston, worked with Staples to create two 12-foot tables for the GasLight Brasserie du Coin Restaurant in the South End. Mileikis, who specializes in restaurant design, had never heard of Staples before, but decided to work with them after viewing their Web site.

"I just liked the look" said Mileikis. "I wanted this part of the restaurant to really stand out"

Despite being featured in Time Magazine, Audubon Magazine and the Discovery Channel, the company has remained small, with only seven employees, including the Staples. The company's annual revenue is $650,000.

Marley Schneier can be reached at

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