• Norm Couturier

Local craftspeople help carve 3D Planeta’s path to global markets

Updated: Nov 3

It's fascinating the community impact that can be generated when you put some effort into a local initiative

(Part 1 of 2)

I’m a big ‘buy local’ person. When I need an event catered, I call my favourite locally-owned restaurants and I support local designers and creative people to shape 3D Planeta’s voice and image.

So when it came time to buy office furniture, I didn’t want to simply walk into the nearest box store and order something from the inventory. Instead, I drove across the river to The Ville Cooperative with a supply of wood and a proposal. A year earlier, I had helped organize a Startup Weekend event at The Ville, a place I freely admit I had known little about.

The Ville is a multi-functional community centre and entrepreneur co-location spot housed in a former elementary school. It specializes in supporting social enterprises and purpose-led startups, and at the Startup Weekend event we had 85 entrepreneurs spread throughout the building in teams, working on innovative community tech startup ideas.

I found myself mentoring a team in a large woodworking shop in the basement of the building and, months later when 3D Planeta COO Tom Batty and I started talking about furniture for our new office, an idea popped into our head. Our new office is a brand new fit-up in a century-old boot factory that has been beautifully renovated. Our design concept in the office was a fusion of the original post, beam and brick architecture of the building, along with high-tech finishings.

Tom had been clearing land up at his cottage and he had a ready supply of lumber. Why not make our own desks and conference tables out of New Brunswick hardwood from Tom’s property, made to look like something built in the same period as our office building was built?

We approached The Ville staff with our proposal: use 3D Planeta’s need for desks and tables to create a test case woodworking initiative with the goal of developing a sustainable skills development and manufacturing program for newcomers that The Ville could replicate to supply other businesses with custom furniture. This initiative could build trade skills for newcomers while they're learning English as their second language, connect them with their new community, and put funds into the Ville to help it grow. To help make the impact more significant, we would also individually number each piece built, have them hand-signed by each of the contributing builders, and hand-delivered to our new office.

The program launched this past spring just as COVID-19 restrictions were easing enough to allow craftspeople and students to gather at The Ville, led by Clare Tahershamsi, a shop teacher and instructor at the Multi-Cultural Association of Fredericton.

The first desks will arrive Aug.07 and they will fit in perfectly with both our office design and our company values. Stay tuned for updates as they are delivered.

Tom and I have our eyes set on a global market, and also on the talented craftspeople, artists and small business owners who call New Brunswick home. We succeed best when we succeed in the company of others.