Sustainability is defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The true sign that ISLAND Architectural Woodwork is inherently a sustainable company comes from its commitment to excellence and the true understanding that quality is ongoing. The company enjoys many long-term client relationships due to the fine and precise millwork that ISLAND delivers consistently. At ISLAND, with its strict policy of in house production, someone touches each project at every phase -- unlike companies that source components from resources in Canada, other regions in the USA and overseas.
Ed Rufrano, President & Founder was introduced to artisan woodworking as a young man assisting his father, making custom cabinetry for family members. He learned the craft and an appreciation for precision. Ed embedded his expectations of quality and performance into the production process he created for his company. With Executive Vice President & Partner, Angelo DeMarco’s, controlling all operations from manufacturing to installation, and an agreement between the two men to maintain and upgrade cutting edge equipment, ISLAND propelled itself into the 80s.
Their commitment to the latest in woodworking production technology enabled ISLAND to build high skill positions on the shop floor and in the CAD/CAM department. The opportunity to work on these computerized machines is attractive to a more educated workforce who sees the value in a dust free, non-toxic work environment. ISLAND prides itself on the high skill, high wage jobs it supports in the plant and in the field.
What was once a challenge, competing against old woodwork companies with old world techniques has now become ISLAND’s greatest competitive advantage. ISLAND has the capacity and the ability to produce high-end millwork that captures the spirit of the architect’s vision. ISLAND’s design/engineering department reads the design documents and details a millwork solution that expresses the designer’s intent.
Many of ISLAND’s clients, such as Bank of America, Hearst and Goldman Sachs, have strong environmental positions and are requiring green solutions. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) has established a high performance building rating system called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Most of the architects that rely on ISLAND to detail their architectural woodwork designs are looking for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood products to contribute points in building projects that are applying for LEED certification. ISLAND embraces environmentally responsible manufacturing and business practices not simply as an altruistic gesture. It’s become an economic imperative that a quality driven, service-oriented business such as ISLAND would become a company associated with sustainable manufacturing processes.
ISLAND began by researching High Performance Green Buildings and the USGBC LEED rating system. Many aspects of ISLAND’s manufacturing practices were Green or sustainable already. For example, the existing plant has a sophisticated dust retrieval and ventilation system, and the production flow is a model of Lean manufacturing.
ISLAND recently acquired its own forest in Massachusetts, which is supervised by a Certified Forester. ISLAND will be able to access its own wood, and take full responsibility from the sapling to the boardroom.
Also, ISLAND is in the process of constructing their third factory, scheduled to open September 2007. This provides an opportunity for them to implement wastewater reclamation systems, energy developed from their own waste product, daylight harvesting, energy efficient lighting and recycling systems as part of the new building.
The challenge lies in the evaluation of how to make a sound business decision based on the Return On Investment for these Sustainable and Eco-friendly systems. ISLAND is working with Rochester Institute of Technology’s Sustainable Systems Research Center to create a Green Business strategy. The goal is to implement smart and efficient systems using an eco-friendly approach.
To better understand how ISLAND will manage and implement these changes, it’s helpful to introduce the members of ISLAND’s executive team. Ed Rufrano founded his business in 1979, in 1993 he teamed up with Roger Stevens his friend and mentor to form ISLAND Architectural Woodwork. Over a period of time, Angelo DeMarco became a partner in the business. Together they built a solid custom millwork business known for quality, fine detail, timely project delivery and extraordinary client services.
As the next generation of management has embedded themselves in the business, it’s become clear that with their impetus, the sustainable conversion at ISLAND will take hold. The promise of a strong future is evident when you speak to one of the members of the executive team at ISLAND. Invariably, the conversation turns to a series of familiar themes; a recurring inventory of company strengths emerge:
- Excellence – At ISLAND, with its strict policy of in house production, someone touches each project at every phase, thereby maintaining control of both quality and schedule
- Design and Installation - Inherently there is quality control because there is internal accountability
- Quality – This group only knows a Can Do attitude that is fueled by pride and accomplishment
- Environmental Responsibility – this team is a contributor to positive eco-behavior
- Reliability – a carefully monitored production ensures a precision and quality project
- Expert Service – When ISLAND’s client is satisfied the project is a success
ISLAND is one of the leading architectural woodworking operations in the greater Metropolitan area; they have experienced growing pains, but have learned from their competition. While other custom millwork operations have grown dependent upon resources in Canada, other regions in the USA and resources overseas to provide lower cost finished goods and partially assembled components, ISLAND maintains its strict policy of 100% in house production. This policy motivated them to solve many in-house process challenges.
When Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, UBS or ING build out their corporate offices, they have retained the top architects to design these spaces that must be both highly functional as well as perfect in appearance. The client expects a corporate environment built with the finest materials and installed with the greatest care and precision. ISLAND delivers on time, all the time; as the architectural millwork company sought by these finance giants.
“Our focus is to build a strong business for future generations,” Ed Rufrano observed, “Therefore, we are, by the nature of our goals sustainable.”
Cover: Ed Rufrano & Angelo DeMarco photographed in the ISLAND Woodwork Inc owned forest located in OTIS, Massachusetts. Photo by Paul D. Miller
Interior: Conference Room, IBJ, Architect: Ted Moudis Associates, Photo by Paul Warchol
ISLAND Management Team: Left to Right Stephen Sama, Dolores Rufrano, Peter Larrabure, Joe Ondrush, Tracy D’Agata. Photo by Jillphotography.com