EcoVet is a furniture company in Springdale, Arkansas that is doing so much good, it’s hard to keep track of it all. They only hire only veterans of the Armed Forces. They’re creating upcycled furniture from decommissioned semi trailers. AND the furniture the veterans are making is absolutely gorgeous.
Let’s start with the sustainability factor. To get the pieces for the furniture, the company deconstructs trailers (pls see the GIF below). The highest quality wood comes from the floor of the trailer, typically oak or maple. The plywood walls are sent to Habitat for Humanity and the rest of the scrap metal is used for new truck parts and more furniture. Even the tires are broken down for future patches! They seriously know how to upcycle the heck out of an old trailer.
Funny enough, most of the old trailers come from Walmart, and EcoVet recently got their biggest retail client — Sam’s Club.
The company started in 2011 as a way to make a small impact in the lives of veterans while creating something beautiful out of something otherwise discarded. Unemployment rates for veterans is 40 percent higher than it is for civilians — exactly the kind of statistic that keeps EcoVet focused on their veteran mission.
These skilled, disciplined men and women are coming out of the Armed Forces with a tremendous amount of experience that — on the surface — seems difficult to apply to many civilian jobs. None of them came to EcoVet knowing how to build furniture, but co-founder Drake Vanhoosen says it’s actually their experience that makes them invaluable. “They’ve been taught how to get things done,” he says. “They all have the skill of being adaptable.”
Adaptability is important when you’re hiring people who haven’t listed furniture-making on their resume ’til now. But many makers can probably relate; craftsmanship is constantly shifting its focus to becoming more and more sustainable, and with those changes, we’re all always learning.
Right now EcoVet’s team is 28 strong, but soon they’ll be scaling up from one center to four in the coming years, with locations are based in the highest concentration of veterans and trailers: the Carolinas, the Chicago area and Nevada.
Do you know any companies with veteran-focused efforts? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
(h/t Fast Company)