#172 - Sustainable Forestry & Reforestation: Three Unexpectedly Impactful & Profitable Businesses With Aram Terry, Founder of Masaya & Co.

May 04, 2021

#172 - Sustainable Forestry & Reforestation: Three Unexpectedly Impactful & Profitable Businesses With Aram Terry, Founder of Masaya & Co.
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During his time in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, Aram Terry saw firsthand the devastating impact of deforestation and in contrast, the economic benefit of forest stewardship. This fueled his desire to found businesses that focus on sustainable forestry as a means to extend the lives of our forests for future generations.


During his time in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, Aram Terry saw firsthand the devastating impact of deforestation and in contrast, the economic benefit of forest stewardship. This fueled his desire to found businesses that focus on sustainable forestry as a means to extend the lives of our forests for future generations. 

The value forests provide goes beyond beauty; their resources can be monetized. A recent estimate puts the value of our global ecosystems at $142.7 trillion annually

Since forests have both tangible and intangible value, it’s only right that their management is as sustainable as possible. On the Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Podcast, Aram shared how he’s making an impact with not one, not two, but three (!!!) businesses focused on reforesting deforested land and creating a market for young wood.

Full Show Notes & Episode Bonuses:

https://growensemble.com/sustainable-forestry/

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🗣 TOPICS DISCUSSED

  • What drew Aram to Nicaragua and forest stewardship in particular
  • How Masaya & Co. was started and the growth the company has experienced 
  • How Aram's two other ventures also prioritize sustainable forestry and reforestation 
  • The economic benefit of reforestation and making wood products 

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Transcript

Cory Ames  0:07  
Hey y'all Cory here with the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast. As always such a pleasure to have you listen in today's episode we are talking about reforestation, deforestation, sustainable forestry and sustainable building materials. And to do so we're speaking with Aram Terry, who is a sustainable entrepreneur focused on vertically integrated wood businesses that capture carbon through reforestation in sync or the finished products. Farm first went to Nicaragua in 2002. As a US Peace Corps Volunteer are never enough. Maybe he had formed ideas of creating a socially and environmentally sustainable business. And ultimately, he was in 2007, where arm and his father formed Madeira's. So spend evenings to establish tree farms and deforested land and process hurricane salvage. We talked about that, that experience a lot of lessons in that in that first business there, but it was this reforestation and effort to salvage fallen trees, which evolved into furniture production, when RM met his wife, Abril, Cipolla and Nicaraguan designer and artisan from Messiah. And together they launched the furniture brands, Messiah complex, and the intention of Messiah and CO is to implement the seed to seat sustainable business model that both reforest ravaged lands and offers unique and beautiful wood products from sustainably managed forests. I highly, highly recommend checking out some of their furniture. It's extremely, extremely beautiful, simple but vibrant, absolutely love. The newest business that RM is working on is called quiet calm, which builds homes from the centuries known on these reports to cow pastures. They're using this high quality hardwood to build prefabricated homes and other various wood products. These homes capture between 100 150 tons of carbon enough to cover your own footprint for five to 10 years. And on this podcast we talk about all these these various businesses clearly all well interconnected. I think you'll you'll really enjoy this chat here as as I did. But before we dive in, y'all speaking of tree planting, I want to encourage you to check out our friends at 10 tree, a sustainable clothing and apparel company that plants 10 trees for every item purchased go to grow ensemble.com backslash plant 10 to browse their sustainable clothing line. If you follow that link and you make a purchase, we get a small commission back and go on sabol at no extra cost to you. Growing samples, ecosystem of content or podcasts, newsletter blog and YouTube channel are all listener, reader and viewer supported. So we do really, really appreciate that support. Then lastly, lastly, lastly, I want to encourage you to sign up for the better world weekly newsletter which is the weekly newsletter I write, curate and publish myself every single Monday. There's just about 2100 other change makers and innovators from all sectors all over the world getting that email in their inbox every single Monday. Go to grow ensemble comm backslash newsletter, sign up for that and get the next one in your inbox next Monday. Alright, yo, without further ado, here's arbitary coming to you from Nicaragua.

Aram Terry  4:03  
Okay, my name is Aram Terry. Before I get into it, I want to thank you for inviting me and take an interest in our company and and what we're doing. I have a company based out of Nicaragua and Central America, that's focused on reforestation. But our concept is to make reforestation profitable through adding value and making end user products selling straight to consumers. I've been here for 18 years or so learning about wood learning about reforestation, learning about manufacturing. That's what our companies are about my cyan company and buaya can

Cory Ames  4:41  
well I do appreciate the focus first and foremost on reforestation, I do think that your description there understates the absolute beauty of the products that y'all make all the furniture and as well those those prefabricated homes that you have with guac on it. Well, just absolutely gorgeous. So I do have to say that first, first off, I would love to start perhaps 18 years ago, if you wouldn't mind. I'm curious, because from what I understand it was the Peace Corps that brought you to Nicaragua. And I'm wondering what inspired you first and foremost, to join the Peace Corps and do something like that?

Aram Terry   5:25  
Okay, so I'm from Nashville, Tennessee, went to school in Boston at Boston University for business study business administration with a focus in finance. During college one, one semester, I went over to Spain and started learning Spanish started opening my eyes to the rest of the world a little bit. As I was graduating, you know, a lot of my friends were applying for jobs in New York, or staying in Boston or looking for finance jobs. But that didn't really appeal to me. And I wanted to look for something where I could travel, and see more of the world and learn how to speak Spanish, kind of broaden my horizons. And actually, my father, when he was graduating from school, in the early 70s, applied for Peace Corps in Costa Rica, and got accepted and decided to go to law school. Both he and my mother were actually accepted the Peace Corps and coasts, Rica, and my mother went to study got a master's in special education. And my father studied law. And so he and my father really kind of pushed the Peace Corps thing on me. So he could live vicariously through me, I guess. So I looked into it, and you can't really pick what country you go to. But I knew I wanted to learn Spanish. So I basically picked Latin America, and they sent me to Nicaragua. And that was in 2002. And at that point in time, not a lot of websites about Nicaragua. So I actually had to go to the library and check out some books. All the books, at that point in time were about the revolution, there were hardly any travel books. And so I really had no idea what to expect, and came down here and kind of fell in love with the place lived in a small fishing community for two years and just kind of saw what was going on saw a totally different place from where I grew up. And economy where people live off of $100 a month, $150 a month instead of scraping by, you know, with $2,000 a month. So it's just very eye opening to see how different the world is in different places. And at that same time, you see how people have so much less but are managed, are able to be happy, or able to survive, you get by. So yeah, I just kind of really liked the place and after my two years of Peace Corps wasn't ready to leave. So you know, one thing led to another, worked in real estate development in a beach town called them on the sword for a couple years with some friends. through doing that, I met a French agronomist that has been here for a long time, who has several tree farms, I was working in coastal development selling kind of like each homes or, you know, developing some properties, that kind of that kind of thing. And would drive by this French guys tree farms every day. So I'm doing that over the course of three years. And just watching the trees go up and digging home in this sales business. And then this guy has the business where he's reforesting. And basically when it rains, and when photosynthesis happens, he's that's the business he's making money. So I don't know, the idea of reforestation, as a business was just very interesting to me. intriguing. So, started the company in 2008, kinda with the idea of doing a couple tree farms, just to try it out and see, learn about it by doing it. But at the same time, in late 2007, there was a hurricane on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, which is kind of a sparsely populated area that had a lot of forest. This was pre 2008 we were doing pretty well in real estate things and thought we could do anything so when the hurricane happened we decided to get into extraction and milling of Hurricane felled lumber out of trees that were knocked down by the hurricane. I was younger almost 30 then and had been the business hadn't started had been successful, you know small businesses so this undertaking you know sure we can do it and basically went to the Atlantic coast with heavy machinery milling equipment, trying to recover this this wood and really got got beat up major learning experience on many different fronts, but the process was you know, we get into the the processing of wood at the same time that we got into the reforestation efforts. So pretty much from inception, the company has been about planting and converting wood into final product.

Cory Ames  10:06  
Could you say more about what some of those lessons were at that point in time?

Aram Terry   10:12  
Well, there's a lot of business lessons, learning, just learning new business without getting into it without having any idea what we're doing, you know, it was easier in real estate and some other things. But with the wood, it was a lot more different. But the bigger lessons that I learned, you know, long term, we got over the operational issues and kind of stabilized. But the biggest lessons I learned out there, you know, when I went out to this sport was I expected to see was a fallen forest. When you get out there, really, you had to go really far to find the forest at that point in time. And it was the part of this country where when you look at the map, you assume it's like an Amazon and it's a jungle. But when I got out there, it's a cattle farm everywhere, as far as the eye can see, it was cattle, you basically anywhere, there's a road had already been cut down and turned into pasture. And to get to the fallen forest, you basically had to go to the areas where there was no road. And so the the long term learning experience was was more about poverty, and the effects on the forest. And what's really happening on these areas where none of us ever go. And so as far as you could go in Nicaragua, way out in the middle of nowhere, there's a poor farmer, who is cutting down the forest living in a little zinc roofed house and trying to make a living, it was really eye opening to see the advancement of the agricultural frontier front firsthand, realize that as much as people talk about it, even the government here or anywhere, to control that is is a very difficult thing. You know, people are going to try to make a living. And it's really, you can't really blame them, because they can come back to the Pacific Coast, and swing a machete for $170 a month, or go turn forest into pasture, and basically triple the value of the land. So it was just a shocking experience to work out there. And understand that economic effects why the report deforestation is happening?

Cory Ames  12:20  
Hmm, from what I understand it, your father came down with you in 2007 to start that business? Is that right?

Aram Terry   12:27  
Right. So our business from the inception was a friends and family finance, mostly my father and his business partner. What was that experience

Cory Ames  12:36  
like working with him on that, that endeavor?

Aram Terry   12:39  
It's been good, you know, they've been very patient through all the learning processes, because it has been a long process in operating now for 12 years. It's been overall a positive experience. But if I were to do it, again, I probably would go look for outside investors, because I feel like working with family is difficult. And it can affect relationships, especially when things aren't going. So good and bad. I would say there are parts of it, where we're very stressful and affected our relationship. But in the long run, we know we will overcome it. And everybody's everybody's content now.

Cory Ames  13:12  
I'm glad to hear that. Of course, I guess you're there and you're experiencing something unexpected, what you're seeing the cattle lands out there, and starting to get a sense for what what's happening with this deforestation problem. What did you learn about it? And at what point did the trajectory start kind of shifting for you? And how to work with that environment work with those, I guess, challenges? Well,

Aram Terry   13:38  
I guess what I realized was that effect of deforestation is a macro, economic and governmental issue. And as long as you have poverty in these areas of forest is a private property. And you can't just say, don't touch it, there has to be some kind of income to the people who hold it, or they're going to do, they're going to look for a way to live off of it. Because a lot of them, you know, in Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, a lot of them are indigenous groups. And that's what that's what they have, it's a massive asset that they really can't get much value out of. So the amount of guidance and government help to make that a sustainable model is is kind of mind boggling. What I realized and seeing that firsthand. First of all, there are a couple reserves here that might be spared. But I see, I think that most of the forest will be removed. I don't see anything. I don't see anything happening on a global level that I think will stop it the way that it's moving. So when I thought about what I could do, as a, you know, small entrepreneur, tried to reforest create an alternative instead of having one capital per Hector, which is also a very marginal business. How can we this area that's already been deforested. How can we turn it back? In the forest and make it a profitable business, the natural forest thing to me was quite overwhelming the amount of barriers to fixing that problem I think are tough. So I kind of decided my where I wanted to put my role is okay, creating alternatives and how to make a business out of reforesting.

Cory Ames  15:18  
I'd love to get a little bit more into the specific process here in a moment. But is there a potential to convert any of the the farmers to this alternative model? I mean, from what I understand is that you do partner in some way with with other folks in Nicaragua, who are wanting to take a different model different path. What is converting some of those even if it's very small amount?

Aram Terry   15:44  
So in terms of getting small farmers to reforest? Yeah, yeah, no, I think that is a very viable opportunity. There's another, it's a NGO, slash company, your call taking root, would be a good guy to talk to his name's kellele. Baker, he's out of Vancouver. He is now that carbon offsets and carbon finances is becoming more of a viable real thing where you can actually receive them rather than something that you hear about and never see, he has an operation where basically, they're taking in carbon offset money, and paying small farmers to to reforest their own land. And I think that's a very interesting model that I would we want to see how we collaborate or create a separate entity that does the same thing. But the more people doing that the merrier basically, being a bridge between people who need carbon offsets, and these small farmers who have land that's deforested, and try to make growing trees on their own land is a business for them. So basically, what how it works is you pay them upfront, you're basically assuring your carbon offset client, that the trees will be planted. So you pay them over a six to eight year period and small chunks, until they The trees are established. And then the trees are theirs. And so what you do is you create a future, future source of biomass for cooking or whatever else or time or also for for wood. So that's that, you know, when we started doing reforestation, we thought more about the private health model, buy or rent farms and reforest them and have them in house. But really, the amount of impact you can have there is minimal. And we continue to do that to the level that we can, but it's capital intensive, it's private, you're not helping that much in terms of poverty and that kind of thing other than creating employment. So a large scalable model is along those lines, what taking root is doing in Nicaragua, which is basically financing small farmers to reforest their own lands.

Cory Ames  17:46  
Hmm. And so I'm wondering if we can then start diving into your process, particularly just because very curious to know and maybe this is a basic question is like, what what makes your process of reforestation, or as well, your process of procuring these building materials, this wood, actually sustainable because I think mentally it makes complete sense of, you know, deforested land, and it's turned into pasture for cattle, you know, things aren't being replanted. But going through the thought process of really how long it takes to reforest any sort of piece of land. And what that balance is, with the procurement of the materials, the wood, the lumber, I'd love to hear a bit more as to what actually makes your process sustainable and perhaps in contrast to maybe other more traditional means of obtaining lumber.

Aram Terry   18:41  
Okay, so I think it's, it's really comes down to making reforestation, a business so that more people do it, and it becomes prolific. And so when I look at what taking roots doing, which we also want to do with with small farmers, we're starting to do it this year. And you know, you also have these big institutional plantations, where there's some Swiss investments here, there's some other, you know, large institutional holders who have a couple 1000 hectares of tree farms, or you know, our small tree farms, all of them have the same problem. What do you do with the wood when it's produced, and most of them are thinking about carbon, they're thinking about sustainability. But they don't really know, wood that well. And so the basic model is, we're going to grow this wood, throw it in a container and ship it to India in 20 years. So that's, that's what you do with teak. And so that, to me is not, it could be more sustainable. you're capturing carbon, you're reforesting, you're turning something into a constant carbon sink, but you're also shipping it across the sea across the ocean, selling it at a low price, it makes the business fairly marginal. In order to export to India to have that kind of material flow. You have to be a larger player. How do you know make it profitable for everybody. to oversimplify it, it's it's adding value, you have to create factories here that are designed factories which make products which are sold that consume this reforested wood. And that's something that I think people don't realize when they start planting reforested. Wood and old growth wood are very different things, the diameters, when we're harvesting or doing things that you're 10 or 12, you're talking about, like, four to seven inch trees. So when you think about that, against, you know, a 2436 inch mature tree, the wood that comes out of it is totally different. And so if you're, you want to sell that to a Chinese furniture factory, they don't want it, because it's not the spec on what they're producing. So to me, it's about making a consumer for this very special wood, which is, you know, can be looked at as low grade or you know, it has more knots, it has more SAP, it has more PID, it's a very complicated process where we have to design and market products that consume this plantation wood.

Cory Ames  21:11  
I can't help but think perhaps to some of the first re plantings that you did, if this is a 1015 year 20 year trajectory, to then thin that what out? What was the experience? I mean, you must have had a lot of trust in the that process happening and being able to use that would ultimately, I guess, in a very sensible way or sustainable way for the business. I'm just wondering, like, what, what sort of confidence did you have to have? Or what was the circumstance like to where you're, you're invested for 10 1520 years, because that's how that would ultimately pay off? Right?

Aram Terry   21:50  
I guess it was once again, learning by doing same thing. When we got into the processing of wood, we had no idea what we're doing. It was difficult. We made a lot of mistakes, but we learned and the same with planting, you know what to plant how to plant it. You know, our first plantings were not good. Every year, we get a little better. But yeah, I mean, it was definitely a risk. I had seen other people that planted there's other people planting in the area. So you could kind of see, they're probably eight years ahead of us. You could see where it was going if you did it. Right.

Cory Ames  22:20  
But I mean, you were most certainly kind of like both feet in because I mean, it is it is a 510 15 year trajectory, right?

Aram Terry  22:27  
So yeah, definitely, it's for teak, which is kind of the easiest thing to plant on a cow pasture, because it has secure market and it grows fairly easily, etc. It's a 20 year cycle, and you start thinning at your eight, you get another thing at 12, other one at 16. And then you you do a final harvest to 20 and plant again. So I think it's very important to think about that too. Because to me, wood is the only option for building materials. And you know, you get pushback from some people saying don't use wood because you don't want to cut down trees. My point of view is: use as much wood as possible because you're sinking carbon. Wood is 50% carbon. So you want to as long as the wood is reforested, and planted and grown, the more people are doing that the more carbons captured, the more soils are protected, soils are enriched, etc. So yeah, I mean, it's about replanting, and using wood for sure.

Cory Ames  23:27  
Hmm. And so is it I mean, is it unquestionable that the amount of trees replanted will exceed what it is that we're cutting down and using for building materials? I mean, like in that case, if it's used as much wood as we possibly can, how confident are we that we can continue to replant at a rate that exceeds what it is that we take down?

Aram Terry   23:50  
The more you use it, the more demand you create, and the more people plant, you want to distinguish between native forest wood and reforested wood, but you look at the US and all the pine plantations and dug for plantations, and it's a very sustainable business, honestly, in the US has positive forest growth. So you're really talking about these places in Latin America, or an Africa that poverty is causing deforestation, you want to create an alternative for them by growing wood to do reforestation, and there's plenty of land to supply the needs. They say that in urban areas every year, an area the size of Manhattan is created every year across the globe. That's all concrete, steel, and glass. None of them are sustainable materials. And they're all creating carbon. So moving, all building towards wood is it will have a it will be a key factor. I think climate change.

Cory Ames  24:52  
And so you mentioned there that the US actually has positive forest growth wasn't aware of that.

Aram Terry   24:57  
Yes,

Cory Ames  24:58  
yeah. And so I guess the comment flicked is is where there hasn't been a real incentive or kind of market built for reforestation in those kind of mismatches in other countries.

Aram Terry   25:10  
Yeah, the problems that you're seeing, obviously are in, you know, the Amazon or in Central America and Africa as well. Yeah. Where they're basically mowing down native forest to supply wood for all types of manufacturing, overseas. Yeah.

Cory Ames  25:26  
Are there any other sort of like, what are the resistances? Like, what are the barriers? And maybe, yeah, resistance that folks have to using wood as a building material

Aram Terry   25:37  
permits, I would think, you know, this is this is a little out of my area of expertise, because I've kind of been down here more on the forestry manufacturing side. But my guess would be, who designed the building and architect, they're gonna pick the materials at the beginning, go with those materials, which are what their engineers know, in order to get permits and get them past. So you kind of have to change the whole mentality. And intentionally from the beginning, say this is going to be a wooden building. And there is a lot of engineering and new ideas in that area. You know, can you make 100 story wood building? No, not today. But hopefully, in the future. There's some really cool projects going on in Canada, a couple in Europe, where they're getting to 2030 stories of wood buildings. So it's a giant carbon sink. So changing that industry, a lot of residential houses are already made out of wood, especially in the US. But moving other parts of the construction industry towards wood, I think, is very important. That's where we want to focus very long term. But as you know, this company started making pieces of furniture. So that's, that's where we're at today.

Cory Ames  26:53  
I'd be curious to hear about that transition, in particular, now with the latest company, GUI icon with the prefabricated homes. I'd be curious to hear what was that any sort of big leap for y'all to go from furniture to now homes, and any challenges or issues with that.

Aram Terry   27:15  
So basically, I guess, rewinding a little bit. So we started with reforestation, and kind of lumber products. And then moving into furniture was kind of a first step. You know, we had some local jobs making furniture, I started my relationship with my wife around 2012. She's a designer, anthropologist, designer, and she, you know, we got into these woven chairs and just kind of ad hoc doing what was coming at us. My brother is an artist in in New York. So we were making these nice little woven chairs that my wife was designing out of wood that we were processing, and he started selling them on Etsy. And so we started selling them on Etsy, then we started selling on Shopify, and it kind of grew into a business and kind of an ad hoc way, but kind of, you know, doing what we like to do, making pretty things that we enjoy making. That's how the furniture company came about. But going back to the original idea of making reforestation, profitable, you realize that furniture doesn't use very much wood. When you ship a furniture, a container of furniture, it's mostly air, the leap from or the combination of the two products, which are prefab houses, and furniture comes from the concept of how are we going to consume more wood more than anything else, our strength in 80% of what we do right now is furniture. And so kind of the prefab idea is more of a thinking long term of how to fully consume all of the types of wood that's coming out of plantations. So that's, that's kind of the basis for it.

Cory Ames  28:51  
So when your operation particularly Do you feel like you'll have more wood than you can handle,

Aram Terry  28:58  
we still ship wood to India on a weekly basis. So you know, what we want to do is create more demand, sell more furniture, sell more prefab houses, and try to not export any wood turn it all into finished product.

Cory Ames  29:12  
I mean, it clearly seems like it's like the most logical flow of the businesses that have been started and what you're continuing to evolve, get yourself first into the production of the raw materials themselves, which is really interesting. And then clearly seeing how value gets added to the the end consumer product. Yeah, that's an interesting you know, very kind of step by step leap to have the as much of the supply chain as you possibly can have anyways. And so I'm wondering what took things from selling these furniture pieces on Etsy to, you know, y'all see, like, legitimately that oh, we need our own storefront whether that's online with e commerce or retail, what was a bit of that, that transition or trajectory there?

Aram Terry   29:57  
Well, I mean, there's some luck involved in this, but Luckily, my wife was making some very beautiful chairs that were selling very well, my brother was doing a great job of selling them, and we started seeing them moving. So you know, we put more effort into the design building out the brand, the brand, Messiah and company. Messiah is an artist in town and Nicaragua where my wife's from, it's a really cool place where basically, you go to one neighborhood, everybody's making hammocks you go, the next neighborhood, everybody's making shoes, you go the next neighborhood, everybody's making furniture. And so it's, we actually, she's always been interested in learning these artists and processes as an anthropologist. And so we started doing our first pieces there. Now, once we had to get into production, and actually maintain consistency in what we were producing, we did start doing it in house, basically. But it started as working with local artisans. And basically now we have artisans coming into our facility to process just to kind of control things because we are getting to a level where it's productions increasing quickly. That's kind of the concept of the brand, the artists and the look of the furniture started selling well. And that's where we were like, Okay, this is this is working, let's keep going with it.

Cory Ames  31:12  
I think that's a really interesting lesson, perhaps for other entrepreneurs, as well as like what y'all were able to do and plugging into a marketplace like Etsy, if that's really where sales started to like, first take off. That's a wonderful thing. It's where people all really are, I think that's a great appeal for a lot of businesses with Amazon, different values and ethics and everything there, then then Etsy, but finding those places where there are already folks, you know, gathering that marketplace,

Aram Terry   31:38  
another thing that's been very lucky for us is the world has evolved since we started making furniture in 2012 2013. Now, with Shopify, Etsy, and people buying furniture online, you don't have to be a big company, to make your own website, go through a three PL to distribute, and, you know, get your brand to end consumers before the business model was I'm going to design something, pitch it to a big brand, and they're gonna sell it, that evolution has happened in the last 10 years. And we were kind of just right there when it was happening. So that's a part of it as well.

Cory Ames  32:14  
From what I understand y'all had a really successful 2020 as well and grew rather rapidly. Would you attribute that to a lot of just riding the wave of that that ecommerce? Or is there something specifically in there outside of a kind of right place, right time sort of thing? Okay, so

Aram Terry   32:32  
Etsy, and all these online platforms, they've been around for selling products, and so that that was already there. But what happened, what I've seen in 2019 2020, is people buying furniture online, it seemed like one of the last industries to kind of go all online, because you know, you want to sit in a chair, a lot of people want to sit in the chair before they buy it. Well, now less people want to sit in the chair before they buy it. And people are kind of just want to buy everything online, or you know, a good proportion of the population. So I think that really hit last year, you know, we're still a small company. So two things I think are happening, we have more market to grow into no matter what's going on in the economy. But at the same time, everyone was locked in their house, buying things online. And all of a sudden be nice to have a nice new chair. Yeah.

Cory Ames  33:25  
I mean, yeah, without without the availability of storefronts and short showrooms for that duration of 2020, it kind of forced that measure a bit. And so looking forward, what are things that you're most enthusiastic about excited about, and hopeful for?

Aram Terry   33:41  
Well, we just finished we're finishing, right now a fundraise to kind of restructure the company and take it past the family phase into more of a formal phase, you know, with proper board functioning, etc, and continue to grow, we're pretty maxed out at our factories, we're gonna grow the factory some more. We have a good group of investors, very social impact minded. There's a social impact fund involved. So they also want us to, you know, one of the goals of the investment is to step up our, our social impact as well. That's where we want to to make some investments in community planting and getting in reforestation efforts here in Nicaragua. So that's happening right now. And it's very exciting, huh?

Cory Ames  34:28  
And so, I mean, you mentioned kind of at the top of our conversation that you feel as if we're heading to a place in Nicaragua anyways to where the lion's share of the forest will be removed. If you were to have a magic wand and change anything about it. What would stop that that train,

Aram Terry   34:48  
it's about policy. Basically, land use change, just weird things where if you want to work with wood, it's extremely controlled because they can control In order to get wood out of the forest, you have to move it on a truck. So they just stop all the trucks on the road, everybody has to have a permit. But when you go away back into the boondocks forest, no one can police that and say, hey, you've got to get a permit to change the land use here, you've got to get a permit to turn this forest into pasture. I mean, it's the it's the ant effect. There's just 1000s of people out there who are trying to make a living. So it's it's got to be a policy and enforcement almost kind of thing, in my opinion, in order to stop it. And that's why I don't think the resources or the economic conditions are here right now. Right now, you know, Nicaragua was the poorest country in the hemisphere, other than Haiti, and people need to eat growing cattle is you know, it's probably the easiest business here. Especially for people who don't have resources. So I just the magic wand I guess the stop it would be a people have a forest that just have a forest. If you gave there was a viable way to get carbon money in people's hands, people who can't read and write, how do you get some carbon credits, so they just work their forest maintain their forest rather than cutting it down? That's the kind of thing that would have to happen, but I just don't see it happening. Especially with the rhythm that the vd for stations

Cory Ames  36:20  
Hmm, well, RM I really appreciate your time. Before we wrap up. Do you mind if I hit you with a couple of rapid fire questions? Sure.

Hey, y'all Cory here super quickly. Before we finish up today's chat with some rapid fire questions, I want to briefly tell you about our better world business growth programs as it's our mission here at grow ensemble to promote and highlight the exceptional work of social entrepreneurs. We want to use these Better World business growth programs to do more of the same. So if you are a change maker or leader in this space of sustainable and socially responsible business, and you want to build an audience of customers and advocates around your brand and mission to help drive forward your purpose, profits and ultimately sustainable and healthy business growth. And I want to invite you to head to grow ensembl.com backslash B wB to check out some of our free trainings and resources as well as our newest program, the roadmap builder program that we've just opened up a few slots for where our team does a complete audit on your online performance and ultimately uses that and your goals and objectives to build your complete growth and marketing strategy for the next six to 12 months. So again, that is grow ensembl.com backslash B wB to check out our better world business growth programs. Alright, let's get back to the episode.

Alright, so first off, what's maybe a favorite book of yours or or something you've read recently that you'd like to recommend to our listeners.

Aram Terry   38:25  
Lately, I've been kind of obsessing on Evie conversions. Hmm, there's just just really interesting the idea of me it to me that you can take an old Land Cruiser or an old car, recycle a car and basically plug in a motor straight into the transmission electric motor straight into the plan of transmission and converted into a an Eevee like a classic Evie. So I don't know that's kind of a side obsession I've had last few months. In general, my tendency is towards historical kind of books like David McCullough, and that kind of thing out in the noise. Very interested to hear about how people did things 200 years ago. These days, it's almost too easy to do things. There's too much communication, too much movement, too much globalization, but 200 years ago when you hear about Cornelius Vanderbilt, who controlled a trade route through Nicaragua, and maybe came here once or twice, you know, that That to me is like, hard to wrap my mind around. He's sitting at a desk in New York writing letters and I was this global business. So I don't know I like historical books to be honest.

Cory Ames  39:30  
Yeah, where are you digging into the info on the Eevee conversions?

Aram Terry   39:35  
Just got a couple books off Amazon, you know, obsessing on on YouTube, that kind of thing. The goal of eventually doing my own little project is there as a type of making model that you have something maybe already in your possession. I want to do old man cruiser truck, okay, to drive to the beach.

Cory Ames  39:55  
Very cool. Next one for you. Do you have any particular morning routines or day habits that you absolutely have to stick to.

Aram Terry   40:03  
On a Good morning, my wife and daughters live down in, in a beach town called San Juan del Sur. So Monday morning, Friday morning, I usually wake up there. So perfect morning, I wake up and go surfing, and then then get into work. Take my daughters to school. That's it. That's a good morning routine. Up here, the routines more, get up, drink some coffee and go to the factory in Managua. It's a good balance between the two.

Cory Ames  40:30  
Yeah, it sounds like an awful day. Last one for you, what's maybe one piece of parting advice that you might give to the the active or aspiring social entrepreneur?

Aram Terry   40:42  
Learn by Doing? And don't be afraid, you know, people, when they start businesses, the idea is like, I'm going to come up with a concept and develop this product and someone else is going to make it and someone else is going to sell it. That's kind of the the economy that exists right now. And also, you know, someone else is going to handle it. So hands on learning. If someone else can make furniture, why can't you make furniture? If someone else can actually get the container to the US? Why can't we get the container to the US so like, you know, it's difficult. It takes time, energy resources, but learning, learning by doing and not assuming that you you can't do something and then you have to find someone else find some expert to do it for you or you have to sell to some big company or otherwise you don't have a business. I think that's that's kind of the cool thing that's that's available to us these days.

Cory Ames  41:34  
Yeah. And there's there's an abundance of resources to you know, learn almost anything that we'd like to do. I think that's that's excellent advice. There's a lot of momentum that that happens there. When you learn one thing you know, you kind of start to have this confidence that you can take on more. So I appreciate that that piece there. And so where should we keep up with you arm in your various companies and projects? Where are the best best places for folks to go?

Aram Terry   41:59  
Well, Messiah co on into Instagram, we're putting up a couple photos per week of our lovely furniture. Messiah company dot com is our is our furniture company. And the new prefab concept is called why a can homes. So those are those are outlets and we're available all over the US for anyone that wants to know right?

Cory Ames  42:22  
We'll have things linked up in the show post at grow. ensemble.com Thanks so much. All right. Appreciate it. Thanks for your time.

Cory Ames  42:29  
Okay, that is a wrap another episode of the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast in the books. I hope you enjoyed it as always your host your Cory Ames. I always really enjoyed knowing that you're you're out there listening to this episode engaging with the content, perhaps the folks that we featured doing this exceptional work in the world. If you enjoyed the show and you haven't already please leave us a review wherever it is that you get your podcasts and hit the subscribe button if you haven't already that really helps other folks like yourself discover the show. And lastly, if you have not yet sign up for the better world weekly newsletter This is our weekly discussion of building a better world with our global community of changemakers and innovators from all sectors and all walks of life. So go to grow ensemble dot com backslash newsletter to get the next Better World weekly in your inbox. Alright y'all, we'll talk next time.

Aram Terry Profile Photo

Aram Terry

Co-Founder

Aram first went to Nicaragua in 2002 as U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. During his Peace Corps assignment, he formed ideas of creating a socially and environmentally sustainable business. In 2007, Aram and his father, Michael, formed the tropical forestry management company, Maderas Sostenibles, to establish tree farms on deforested land and process hurricane salvaged hardwoods. Reforestation and wood salvage evolved into furniture production when Aram met his wife, Abril Zepeda, a Nicaraguan designer and artisan from Masaya. Together they launched the furniture brand Masaya & Company.

The intention of Masaya & Co is to implement the “Seed to Seat” sustainable business model that both reforests ravaged land and offers unique and beautiful wood products from sustainably managed forests. Once restored, the devastation of clear cutting is slowly reversed and the vitality of the tropical forest is utilized to produce quality wood products and jobs.

Aram’s many business ventures also include Guayacan, a prefabricated wood home company. Throughout his work in the sustainable forestry field, Aram is creating a higher demand for forest products that are better for the climate, the local communities dependent on tropical wood, and the many animals relying on forests for habitat.