South Shore Millwork: A Blueprint for Sustainable Manufacturing
About South Shore Millwork
South Shore Millwork is not just a name but a standard for custom luxury craftsmanship in architectural millwork, holding the industry's bar high for over 30 years. Founded by Jeffrey Burton in 1991, the company has evolved from specializing in commercial doors to becoming a one-stop solution for high-end residential and corporate projects nationwide. With a mission centered on exceeding expectations through impeccable quality and service, South Shore Millwork prides itself on tackling challenges that others might avoid—always aiming for perfection in every project. Today, they operate out of an environmentally responsible, 80,000 sq. ft state-of-the-art facility that stands as a testament to their commitment to sustainability and innovation.
The Journey to Sustainability Starting with Wood Scraps
Recycled wood-burning pellets
South Shore Millwork exemplifies how a manufacturer can fully commit to sustainability. For over a decade, they've embarked on various sustainability initiatives, the cornerstone of which is recycling wood scraps. Rather than treating their solid wood waste as mere refuse, South Shore Millwork turns it into a resource. These wood scraps are sent to an offsite facility where they're repurposed into wood-burning pellets.
But they didn't stop there. In their finishing department, a specialized distiller recaptures 80% of solvents, readying them for reuse. Through these methods, not only have they substantially reduced waste but also lessened their environmental footprint.
Fields are Greener with Solar Panels
The second initiative involved a significant investment in solar energy. While solar panels on a factory roof are already an impressive feat, South Shore Millwork elevated their commitment to renewable energy by investing in a state-of-the-art solar field. This field is now fully owned by the company and continues to pay for itself over time.
South Shore Millwork's Solar Panels
Their solar field generates enough power to operate their 80,000 sq. ft manufacturing plant entirely, while also producing surplus energy. This excess is converted into monthly credits, making their operation not only sustainable but economically advantageous.
South Shore Millwork's Solar Farm
The solar field produces enough power annually to power the equivalent of 194 households. During summer months, the system even builds up a massive energy credit, which offsets lower production months. This circular energy model renders their manufacturing processes completely self-sufficient and minimizes strain on the national power grid.
Ecogate, a Key Player in Sustainability
As the third initiative in their ongoing sustainability mission, South Shore Millwork took a hard look at their dust collection system back in 2015. Operating with three collectors each with power ratings between 45-65 HP, the company was using a significant amount of electricity. It was imperative to switch from this traditional, power-hungry system to a more energy-efficient, On-Demand system. After extensive research, Ecogate emerged as the clear and unrivaled choice for manufacturers like South Shore Millwork who are at the forefront of embracing green, state-of-the-art technology.
greenBOX Master Control Unit with 3 Power Master VFDs
Their system consists of three collectors (45-65 HP), three variable frequency drives, around 60 workstations and counting, and the greenBOX Master as their control unit. Since 2015 it’s been in smooth operation.
“It made daily use of our dust collection system easier, not being so concerned about when to turn the system on and off, not having to worry about manually opening and closing gates, and overall just being able to manipulate the system to suit the needs of everyday production requirements.” - Chris Levesque, Production Manager.
Chris Levesque, the Production Manager and the primary user of the system, finds the Ecogate system’s user-friendly interface a standout feature. As South Shore Millwork continues to grow, they're regularly adding new workstations and gates, and Ecogate’s system makes this expansion exceptionally straightforward. "The system's flexibility allows for easy reconfiguration and programming of new workstations," Chris noted. They are in fact in the process of further expanding their Ecogate setup, a testament to the system’s scalability and efficiency.
A clear win for South Shore Millwork lies in the savings generated by Ecogate. It’s not just about cutting costs; it’s about a system that eventually pays for itself while yielding monthly savings that can be redirected into company expansion. What Chris especially appreciates is how Ecogate reduces the wear and tear on their three collectors. These are not just any motors, they're large and costly to replace. Extending their lifespan is a significant sustainability achievement for South Shore Millwork.
“Knowing that Ecogate can ramp the RPMs of these large motors all day long and save on costs, but also the wear and tear of these motors, is a huge benefit in it of itself” - Chris
Paving the Road to Greener Investments
South Shore Millwork’s path to sustainability continues to reach unbelievable heights. Savings accrued for over a decade from their various eco-friendly initiatives have enabled them to invest in four electric vehicles for their project managers and office staff - which they charge using the electricity from their solar farm!
This year, their sustainability mission took another leap forward. They replaced their natural gas Heating/AC units with all-electric versions, capitalizing on their surplus energy credits to offset costs. In addition, South Shore Millwork invested in new CNC equipment that seamlessly integrated with their existing Ecogate system, underscoring its ease of use and flexibility.
As they look ahead, South Shore Millwork remains committed to embracing solutions that bolster both sustainability and their bottom line. Ecogate is central to these plans, particularly as the company is currently in the midst of an expansion.
“Overall, we’ve been happy with the system. Craig and Richard have been very responsive and helpful the past six months as we undergo these changes. They understood the urgency and helped us through an unfortunate circumstance when we needed a new VFD last minute” - Chris
A Commitment to Excellence and Sustainability
In an era where environmental responsibility and business innovation are increasingly intertwined, South Shore Millwork emerges as a paragon of what can be achieved when a company devotes itself to both. Their long-standing commitment to sustainability, exemplified through initiatives like wood recycling, solvent reclamation, solar energy investments, and the cutting-edge Ecogate system, speaks volumes about their vision for the future. And it's not just talk. The tangible benefits, be it the monthly energy credits, the impressive cost savings, or the strategic reinvestments, demonstrate that their eco-conscious path is also a business-smart one.
With over 30 years of industry experience and a state-of-the-art facility, South Shore Millwork has proven that excellence in craftsmanship and sustainability aren't mutually exclusive; they're two sides of the same coin. As they continue to expand, they're not just growing their operation. They're also widening the scope of what's possible for a manufacturing enterprise fully invested in environmental stewardship and innovation.
As Chris so aptly puts it, the journey with Ecogate has been more than satisfying. It's a partnership that reflects a shared vision for a cleaner, more efficient future, and it's a strong indicator of the exceptional road ahead for South Shore Millwork. The future is not just bright; it's sustainable.
Check out South Shore Millwork's portfolio at southshoremillwork.com
Author, David Vera