Woodchuck USA is taking a play from successful startups like TOMs and Warby Parker, launching a one for one campaign. The Minneapolis-based company, which makes wood products including tech accessories and journals, is announcing today that a tree will be planted for every item sold. Founder and CEO Ben VandenWymelenberg expects to plant 10,000 trees in northern Minnesota within the first week of the Buy One, Plant One initiative, a partnership with American Forests. Woodchuck products will now come with a card indicating where a tree has been planted, and the overall tally of trees planted by Woodchuck.
“The reason I started this company three years ago was to put nature back into people’s lives and bring jobs back to the USA,” VandenWymellenberg says (I talked to him back then about his ambition). “This is just the next step of a bigger vision. A vision of a world more connected to nature."
VandenWymellenberg is a dreamer who has proven his ability to get the job done. Within months of incorporating, he was selling American-made wood iPhone covers to Target and Best Buy. Now, the collection extends to journals, cufflinks, money clips, luggage tags, flasks, and full-blown world maps made in wood. Woodchuck has customized its products for everyone from 3M to Google. The company does not release sales figures, but VandenWymellenberg says Woodchuck has grown 330 percent year over year, and doubled its staff. Woodchuck just purchased the old Ry-Krisp Factory on Sixth Avenue South East in Minneapolis. VandenWymellenberg’s team, including designers and woodworkers, will move in on Jan. 1. He plans to rent a third of the 80,000-square-foot building to other “Made in America” companies—“to help them grow as others have helped us to grow along the way.”
Woodchuck will not raise retail prices to account for the tree planting program. Funding will come out of the bottom line—in keeping with the company vision.
The goal, says VandenWymellenberg—an avid outdoors enthusiast—is not just to sell a lot of wood products, but to “leave the planet better than we found it.
“This will not be the last step,” VandenWymellenberg promises. “Our team will continue to innovate and create ways to accomplish this vision.”
Woodchuck expects to plant more than 500,000 trees within the next two years.