Building Value was founded in 2004 with a plan to deconstruct buildings, saving up to 85 percent of the material that would usually end up in a landfill. The high level of efficiency came from much practice and research.
Jerry Janszen has been working for Easter Seals Work Resource Center
for nearly 14 years. Janszen remembers from his very first day the staff at Easter Seals was talking about social enterprise. As a non-profit that provides education and advocacy for people with disabilities such as autism, Easter Seals already had a social mission and was looking for a way to bring revenue in to provide money for needs in the community.
The Easter Seals staff looked at many different types, but settled on a deconstruction and reuse center for the sustainability and job training potential. With 25 years of experience in business, Janzen was chosen to write the business plan for the Building Value. With a year of research and trips to several used building material sale centers and deconstruction centers.
After the trips and completion of the business plan, the brilliance of the idea became apparent after the plan won runner-up and a $25,000 prize in the Yale School of Management, Goldman Sachs, Pew Charitable Trust's "National Business Plan Competition for Nonprofit Organizations.
The plan is this: Form partnerships with businesses to donate and allow Building Value to take it’s deconstruction team and salvage doors, windows, mantels, tiles and anything else that can be sold at the Building Value store. The store provides a cheaper more sustainable option for people doing home improvements. After all expenses for Building Value are paid for, the profits all return to Easter Seals to aid the work resource center.
Many people from the Easter Seals center, which includes many who have criminal backgrounds and disabilities that make them unemployable at many places staff the store. The deconstruction team also provides experience and training for 20-25 people a year, many of who end up with entry level construction jobs.
With the plan in action, Janszen was chosen to run Building Value, located in Northside, has between 15-20 employees, which turn over every four to seven months. In the seven years since its beginning, Building Value has provided training to over 100 trainees, many who now have full-time jobs, and diverted just under 20,000 tons of material from landfills.
“We’re providing jobs, saving things from the landfill and diverting and adding value to the community,” Janszen says. “Everything we do is giving back in some way.”
By Evan Wallis