A significant number of companies these days are embracing sustainability in their products and how they are manufactured, but a North Carolina company is taking it one step further. Billing itself as “The Original Poplar Bark Shingle Siding Manufacturer,” Highland Craftsman Inc. makes Bark House shingle siding. And if you want your house to have the “natural” look, this might just be your bag.

According to the company, “durability is what keeps people coming back for [the shingles]. They are all-natural, sustainable, reclaimed, long lasting (up to 80 years) and maintenance free.” And the harvesting methods used actually save the poplar bark from becoming a waste product during conventional timber operations.

Manufacturing the shingles is also done with sustainability in mind. The company says that many of its Bark House materials and products use zero water and very little energy in the manufacturing process. And, the shingles are manufactured in the United States.

Bark siding was apparently popular in the early 1900s until a shortage of chestnut bark in the 1940s made it scarce. In business, a company’s eye is usually focused on the future, but Highland Craftsman found success by looking to the past and melding it with the present popular practice of sustainable building.

Are there other lessons from the past that woodworking companies could learn from, but maybe have failed to recognize? Are there practices from past times that might be acceptable and successful for companies in the present?

Please share your opinions and ideas on this subject, as they promote an open dialogue that will benefit the entire woodworking industry.

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