Our adventure in Manufacturing started with the building of a Straw-Bale house in Lincoln Nebraska. Because of the lack of available green building materials in 1999, we formulated a plan to start a business that could bring these materials to the Midwest, and Straw Sticks & Bricks was founded in 2001. Through our years of working with some great green materials, we began to look at the bigger picture, or as it were, the smaller picture: local manufacturing. We saw several US based manufacturers of various materials come and go, and knew that most green building materials were coming from overseas.
Slate-ish was initially discovered by accident - the way all good ideas come about, it seems. Our work installing Richlite countertops left us with a LOT of scrap material, and a chance encounter with a dropped piece gave us an idea of how to use this scrap. Once we cut and hand-chiseled this material, we knew we had a winner.
We pushed to source additional raw material in 2014, and discovered just how much scrap was being created. We automated some splitting in 2018 to increase our production capacity, reduce prices, and save Josh’s wrists and hands from missed hammer swings.
In the future, we are looking for partners to duplicate our production facility in Europe, where the same type of scrap is readily available, and shipping overseas is very carbon intensive and expensive.
We work hard to keep pushing the envelope. We started a Gravel Series event to honor a friend killed by a drunk driver, and we are working to clean up our local gravel roads through this Series. In our first event, 13 people managed to collect almost 600 lbs of garbage! We hope to grow this series in the coming years, and continue to do good in our community.
About the Founders
Josh started working in finish carpentry and construction in the early 90’s. An inventor at heart, he designs and builds most of our equipment from scratch. He’s an avid gravel cyclist, and spends much of the summer doing 100+ mile races, and most of the winter cursing our Nebraska weather.
Jen first construction experience was on their straw bale house, and she quickly became a local expert on green building materials and methods, pushing education for her community. She uses recycled materials (including Slate-ish scrap) to make jewelry and dabbles in photography.
August - Lego fanatic, has grown up amid the entrepreneurial spirit, and lends a hand at the shop when needed. Sometimes even without protest.
Piper - part cat, climbs trees, more playful than is probably necessary. Very cuddly.