23 Oct Entrepreneur portrait: Nick Harvey
82SB: Please introduce yourself
Nick: I’m Nicholas “Nick” Harvey and I founded BayAreaRedwood.com – we repurpose urban trees into timber products. My undergraduate degree is in chemistry from UC Santa Barbara and in my first career I was a Staff Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and I was concurrently enrolled in a PhD program at UC Davis in Materials Science and Engineering. In my current venture, I leverage my materials chemistry knowhow to have a competitive advantage that is absent from the existing timber industry.
8S2B: How did you get the idea for starting your business?
Nick: I was riding my bike to get groceries when I saw redwood trees being cut down in a blighted lot. I turned around because I was curious about what was happening and felt compelled to do so. A few days later I had the trees delivered to my front yard and I figured out the business from there – I continued to pursue it because it was surprisingly profitable.
8S2B: What is the best word/mantra fitting your mindset?
Nick: Put yourself in a position for luck to happen – then take initiative when it does.
8S2B: What is the message you’re trying to spread?
Nick: As a scientist, I always worked on finding sustainable alternatives to existing technology – I was very good at it because it was a challenge to more effectively use the finite resources we have on this planet. To me, it is mindboggling to think about why we would throw away perfectly good timber because there hasn’t been a supply chain created – so I took it upon myself to do it.
8S2B: What do you wish to provide to people?
Nick: Ethically and locally sourced timber products spanning from furniture to building materials – more generally anything wood can be used for.
We pride ourselves on repurposing everything from the tree (wood) to the bark (mulch). Our business truly creates zero waste.
8S2B: In your opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
Nick: We are more agile on a variety of fronts and our goal is to repurpose any tree – not just the most valuable. We are not the first sawyer or miller to repurpose trees – but other people in this space are searching for the Hope Diamond of trees. In contrast, we are taking any diamond (tree) – then simply processing it into the appropriate consumer products.
8S2B: How long have you been running your business?
Nick: About 10 months.
8S2B: How many staff do you have currently?
Nick: We brought on 2 contractors this month and are hoping to convert them to employees in the near future. We work with about a dozen partners and outsource many of the high risk aspects of the business (to these partners) which lowers our organizational overhead.
8S2B: What are your plans for the future?
Nick: Grow at our own pace and not too quickly. We recently expanded to a larger yard which will enable us to consolidate our inventory making it more convenient for our customers. Additionally, we’re investing in infrastructure (equipment) for this new yard.
8S2B: What advice would you give to other new entrepreneurs?
Nick: Don’t take no for an answer (when appropriate). Ask different people the same question (you’ll get different responses). Focus on customer satisfaction (even when they are wrong). Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Cut your losses with bad partnerships and don’t dwell on the cost of doing business.
8S2B: Anything else that you would like to share with us?
Nick: Listen to people that know more than you do and be humble enough to know what you don’t know. I like to joke I know enough to get myself into trouble.
If you want to know more about this company visit: https://www.bayarearedwood.com/