The Story Behind the Grain: A Q&A with Westgate Hardwoods

May 05 2015

This April, the entire Klean Kanteen family made a big move to our brand-new space (just across town) in Chico, CA. The Klean Kanteen headquarters is beautiful, big, bright and even more stunning than we could have dreamed of. We simply couldn't have created a space like this without the help of our talented Chico-based friends at Westgate Hardwoods

Westgate has been sourcing local wood in Northern California and transforming it into the highest quality pieces for the last decade, and we're grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the entire Westgate team this year. We asked Westgate Hardwoods a few questions about their contributions to our new headquarters, and they told us some great stories about where the trees—which are now our workspaces, doors, frames and moreoriginally came from. They also shared what it means to them to have collaborated on a project like this with us. Here's what they had to say:

Klean Kanteen: According to your website, you take trees that are deemed for removal and use them to create beautiful products. To someone who knows nothing about this process, can you explain how this works?

Westgate Hardwoods: Whether our trees come from an orchard that is being replanted or from trees that are removed from the city due to a hazardous condition, we essentially take the same course of action. We cut the trees at our mill, dry them, plan a project/create drafts of the project, use a variety of machines and tools to create the product and lastly, apply a finish. The drying process is what takes the most time. The rule of thumb is: one year of drying time per inch of thickness. Due to this time factor, we keep a large inventory of material that is on a rotation system of entry, drying and ready-to-use stock.

Klean Kanteen: Tell us a little bit more about where the wood you've used for the new Klean Kanteen office comes from, as well as what some of the pieces you've created for our brand-new home are.

Westgate Hardwoods: The wood featured in the new Klean Kanteen office comes from the northern Sacramento Valley, and some of it came straight out of Chico. In the project we were able to primarily feature our Orchard Walnut around the office; it can be seen in your doors, door and window frames, desks and kitchen cabinets. Orchard Walnut trees, which were formerly burned at the end of their bearing-life-cycle, are now given an awesome second life in your new office! 

Other than Orchard Walnut, Klean Kanteen features Claro Walnut from Chico and Elm from Chico’s old city plaza. Remember when the downtown plaza looked like a mini forest? Those of us who have grown up as Chico natives will never forget the lush trees that once flourished in that small plaza. One of your conference tables features Elm from the trees of this historic Chico era. Essentially, you have the heart of Chico present at every meeting in that conference room. It’s a unique experience!

One of the elements we really love about the overall Klean Kanteen HQ project is the personal workstations. Each desk is completely unique from the others. The varying colors and meandering grain patterns of each piece are unlike any other desk in the building. The cool thing is that when a person comes to work each day, he or she will find a new variation in the landscape of that specific table. The work desk then becomes a place of discovery and inspiration as one becomes acquainted with the unique nuances of it. This connection with a “living” surface on a daily basis inspires thoughts of respect and responsibility toward our natural resources. It is this vein of thinking that underpins the work of both Klean Kanteen and Westgate Hardwoods, making this partnership really meaningful for us.

Klean Kanteen: What has been your favorite part about working on the Klean Kanteen office projects?

Westgate Hardwoods: Working with the people at Klean Kanteen has been a great pleasure. Our interactions with people at Klean are always genuine and filled with care. What's more, we share a passion of responsibility toward our customers and our local environment, so that made it a joy to work together too.

During the design process there were a lot of great collaborations between our companies. From the get-go, this project was built around the principle of using local and sustainable materials. With Orchard Walnut being our local pride and joy, we were excited to feature it in the office. We are honored that our relationship with Jim and Lisa connected us with the people of Klean and we are excited to see what collaborations the future holds for both Westgate Hardwoods and Klean Kanteen!