The idea of a nationwide chain of green building material outlets has been dreamed about by many eco-minded business people and investors. But it’s never gotten past the one-off stage, where successful green retailers push past their local markets with a successful model that can work in multiple cities across the country. Until now.
The merger of Ecohaus and Green Depot, announced on Feb. 7, is a West-meets-East event that unites three of the pioneers in the green-building movement. Four, if you count Greenmaker in Chicago, which Green Depot purchased in 2008.
Ecohaus, which has locations in Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and San Francisco, was probably the first LBM dealer in the United States to offer only eco-friendly and sustainable building products to contractors and builders. (Ecohaus was originally two separate companies in Seattle and Portland that merged in 2009; both had been in business for more than 15 years.)
The stand-alone stores focused on products such as certified lumber, tiles made from recycled glass, low-VOC paint, non-toxic caulking and adhesives, formaldehyde-free insulation, reclaimed flooring and other products that were hard to find in the 1990s but have now entered the manufacturing mainstream.
Founded in 2005 by Sarah Beatty, Green Depot now has 10 stores: a Manhattan flagship; Brooklyn; Chicago; Boston; Philadelphia; Long Island, N.Y.; Newark, N.J.; Albany N.Y.; Manchester N.H.; and Newark, Del.
In between cross-country flights and Skype meetings with her new West Coast stores, Beatty, who now holds the title of president over the entire operation, took a few minutes to answer some questions about the merger, her plans for the company and where the green building industry is heading.
Home Channel News: How did the acquisition deal come about?
Sarah Beatty, founder and CEO, Green Depot: We’ve known and respected the people at Ecohaus for a long time. We have very similar missions. We’ve always joked that, like the American railroad back in the [19th] century, at one point there would be that golden spike that would link the East Coast to the West Coast.
HCN: Will you rename the Ecohaus stores in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco?
Beatty: [Eventually] we’ll bring everything under the Green Depot umbrella. Ecohaus h