Jun. 13, 2010
Last week Eric, our business guy, had the pleasure of traveling to Boise, ID to meet with Terri and Jim Raudebush, the owners and founders of Sandhill Industries, and their team. Yes, Sandhill is a competitor of ours in the tile market, but its product is 100% recycled glass tile whereas Fireclay Tile makes ceramic tiles – very different looks. What we have in common is that we are both deeply committed to US manufacturing using sustainable materials and manufacturing practices, and of course making absolutely beautiful tile products. We both make products by up-cycling waste materials, glass in the case of Sandhill and glass and other materials in the case of Firelay, and we both make products for the commercial and residential markets and sell through retailers and to the trade.
Background: Sandhill was originally incorporated in Fairbanks, Alaska, and early development was sponsored by a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to perfect the technique and purchase some equipment. (YES, SBIR grants do work!!) Terri and Jim developed the product with the help of Bob Kirby, also a friend of Fireclay Tile and an incredible expert in the world of recycled waste glass. After refining the product and process, the team moved to Boise, ID, where they would be closer to both the end user and a great supply of waste glass. Sandhill has been on the market since 2001, and their product has been specified for thousands of installations and many LEED projects throughout the country.
The Process: Terri, Jim and Bob have developed a lean manufacturing process that produces a great product using sustainable principles, they pay their staff a fair living wage (and those are US dollars!), and the process uses a very low amount of energy compared to other glass tile manufacturers. Again, 100% of the raw materials (aside from a very little color pigment) is recycled glass (post-industrial), and because of the proprietary process they designed, the energy required to melt the glass into tile is far less than many of its competition. While I was sworn to secrecy about how they do it, trust me when I say that the process works and that for the customer it should provide a lot of confidence that your tile will look as beautiful and work as well as you think it should.
Above (L to R - Waste Glass i nsuper sacks, Waste Glass after proprietary all-natural coloring process, glass tiles coming off
The Product: Sandhill’s 100% recycled glass tile is unique in the industry. It is a 100% recycled glass tile made in the USA, and the tile has a specific rounded corner look that is exquisite and different. Available in 36 colors and in sizes ranging from 1x1 to 3x6 with special shapes like triangles and circles, the offering is extensive and will work for anyone looking for the glass tile look. Blend patterns are available, and Sandhill will even make custom blends and pre-mount them for you. Starting at $31 per square foot (retail), the product is affordable and competitive with others in the industry such as Ocean Side. Sandhill is also great for LEED projects, and can earn you points for a) recycled materials, b) regional manufacturing, and c) other points such as for low-VOC materials.
Why We Love Sandhill: We love Sandhill because of a) its commitment to making their product in the US, b) the devotion to using a 100% waste material, which they up-cycle into a stunning product, and c) their product is made-to-order just like Fireclay. No other glass tile company on the market does this, and while many other glass tile companies make claims about using recycled materials, no one comes close to doing it the way Sandhill does or in it being consistently 100% recycled.
Terri and Jim – hats off to you both. We at Fireclay are proud to call you our friends and think you have done a great job with your product. For those interested in leaning more, email them or visit the Sandhill website.