Green Pioneer Eco-Wise as Unique
as the Austin, TX, Market It Serves
For 20 years, this eclectic supplier has provided an eclectic mix of green products to an eclectic mix of designers, builders, contractors, and DIYers in Austin and throughout the South and Southwest.
You're not likely to find many suppliers more experienced at green building than Eco-Wise. Builders, remodelers, building managers, and DIYers have leaned on the Austin-based dealer for two decades. And owner and company founder Jim Holland can also boast an incredible breadth of inventory to match his extensive product knowledge.
The 3,300 square feet of display space at the Eco-Wise retail storefront consists of narrow aisles that are stuffed floor to ceiling with its unique blend of green materials. "There are more green products than ever before, just a ton of stuff," said Holland. "[And] we have a reputation for carrying things you can't get somewhere else."
Holland’s willingness to satisfy customer requests stems from his own career history. He’d been working as a remodeler for a number of years when he began seeing a growing accumulation of news about the dangers of toxic ingredients in building materials. He expected that there were other people with concerns like his in Austin, and early word-of-mouth reputation helped those customers find their way to his door.
In addition to the consumer appeal of the retail store, Eco-Wise also services contractors, builders, designers, and the institutional market. Holland had just finished selling 35 slabs of IceStone to a corporate headquarters facility, and 1,000 gallons of zero-VOC paint to a hospital. "They didn’t think we could deliver that much paint on time, but we did," he told us. Holland has supplied and consulted on LEED projects with commercial, institutional, and residential users.
Today's Eco-Wise inventory includes greener versions of the materials that contractors use every day, such as low-emission construction adhesives, VOC free paints and plasters, emission-free insulation, sustainable flooring, and formaldehyde free kitchen and bath design elements. It also features extremely energy efficient water heaters, lighting, refrigerators and major home / office appliances, air purification units, and HVAC components. If that’s not enough, you can add alternative energy products to the mix.
Eco-Wise is looking to further serve the architect and builder market by acquiring an FSC lumber yard and adding a house brand of paint. Until then, says Holland, "We consult, we provide, and we try to educate. As a contractor and remodeler myself, these are things I had always wished someone had done before I got there."
(this is a condensed version of a magazine article fully available here)
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