Hoppe's Growing Urban Wood Venture

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

It was soon after third-generation certified arborists August and Fred Hoppe took the reins of Hoppe Tree Service in 2014 that the idea for Hoppe’s Urban Wood Lab Store was born. The brothers saw a higher, more sustainable use for trees removed from customers’ yards than turning them into firewood and mulch. Now, Hoppe is recycling them into a different type of quality product.

Local woodworkers, artisans and hobbyists are using slabs and lumber from the Urban Wood Lab Store for all kinds of projects.

“We’ve removed so many trees in the past several years, especially with the emerald ash borer crisis,” says August Hoppe, President of Hoppe Tree Service. “Ash used to be a staple species for making tools, millwork, sports equipment and furniture, but it’s not as readily available to woodworkers and artisans like walnut, oak and maple are. We’re changing that with the Urban Wood Lab Store. It’s our aim to be the Midwest’s largest retail warehouse for urban wood.”


The Urban Wood Lab Store opened its doors at 195 27th Street just 5 minutes south of the IKEA in Oak Creek. The Wood Lab now carries more than 400 urban wood slabs at a time in species ranging from ash and elm to locust and beech, as well as the traditional walnut, maples, oaks and cherry. The store also carries dimensional lumber in a dozen urban wood species.



THE JOURNEY FROM TREE TO TABLE

Unlike lumber from a big box store, urban wood is not forest managed. The first job of urban wood is being a tree, creating shade and beauty in your yard. Trees enter our cycle only when it’s time for them to be removed. The Urban Wood Lab increases supply by selling slabs and lumber from other local urban wood producers. The journey from a tree in a Hoppe Tree Service customer's yard to a slab or lumber for sale at the Urban Wood Lab Store can take up to 12 months.



Step 1: Trees are removed and transported to our Grafton facility.


Step 2: Logs are air-dried, then milled into slabs or lumber.

Slabs and lumber are kiln-dried until the moisture content is reduced to 5-7%.


Step 4: Slabs and lumber are delivered and stocked in the Urban Wood Lab Store for everyone to purchase. Some is for sale at Habitat for Humanity's ReStores in the Milwaukee area too.

KEEPING FAMILY MEMORIES ALIVE

Trees can take on special meaning in our customers’ lives, especially when they’ve been planted to honor a loved one. When they need to be removed, Hoppe’s sales arborists talk with customers about the idea of turning their tree into an heirloom piece that will keep the memories alive.

“Many of our customers are really attached to their trees – a sentiment we fully understand,” says Fred Hoppe, Hoppe Tree Service Co-Owner and Sales Manager. “When customers say they’d like quality slabs or lumber made from their tree, we can take care of the entire process, from removing the tree in very large sections to milling, kiln-drying and preparation for woodworking. It’s really rewarding for our customers and for us when we can give a tree second life, and it’s a trend that’s catching on.”



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