2 Nov

Bert Green is a classic Renaissance man. When it comes to his company, SolarMill, the Virginia Tech graduate does it all. With only one apprentice to help him, he does the engineering, design, graphics, and accounting needed to manufacture cutting boards. And he loves it.

The decision to have his products made stateside came from his interest in environmentalism. “I wanted to create something I felt good about,” he said, going on to explain that when he started there was nothing about manufacturing with clean energy. He decided his company would be carbon neutral and it was the best decision he made. “You appreciate what you have so much more when you do it yourself.”

Mr. Bert does almost everything himself. SolarMill got its start in his mother’s kitchen. Mr. Bert was remodeling it for her and discovered he enjoyed working with his hands. He moved to Richmond and built custom cabinets for bars and restaurants. “It was a natural evolution from custom work to manufacturing,” he said, while tinkering with a piece of machinery. He built his own machinery and by the time he was ready to produce something, he had a full shop.

SolarMill’s premiere product is a bamboo cutting board made using solar power that is generated on-site.  They are then sanded by hand and finished with a rich coat of beeswax and oil.  Mr. Green says he decided to start with cutting boards because of their universal appeal and because it’s a simple design that can be quickly changed and improved as the process is perfected.  As a happy owner of the product, I can tell you that it’s great. It’s the perfect size for a small kitchen, and it dries quickly after being washed. I think my roommates are planning to steal mine. Mr. Bert feels that the reason behind the success of his cutting board is because of the label.  “Not only are we making them in America, and doing it with clean energy and green materials, but you can actually plant the label in the ground and it grows into an herb, vegetable, or flower garden.  There’s practically nothing to waste or throw away!”  And there’s a lot of demand for a product like that.
And he is planning on meeting that demand. Not only is he planning to launch more sizes of the cutting board, but new products are in the pipeline! Not only are there holiday gift items on the way, but SolarMill will be breaking into the furniture market. Among other items, a coffee table and chair will be released. No word yet on what the furniture will look like, but I’ll be keeping an ear to the ground. When I know more, I’ll give you an update.

In the meantime, you can pick up a cutting board from Amazon, or from any of the retailers that sell them, including All Things Virginia. Mr. Bert would “like to encourage everyone to commit to helping the economy by buying American products for Christmas.” Purchasing American-made items will be an investment in your country, and you’ll be able to able to give something unique. If you’re not sure what to buy for the holidays, consider buying American. Specifically, consider a cutting board. You’ll be glad you did.



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