Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

June 10, 2013 § 1 Comment

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 5.40.45 PM

Image Source: Bad Beetle

There was a fascinating article in the Sunday Business section of The New York Times, “Invasion of the Beetles, and a Rancher’s Revenge.”  It’s a story about overcoming adversity, taking something with the potential to be financially devastating and turning it into a money-making proposition, and seeing opportunities where others do not.  It is inspiring.

Journalist Claire Martin tells us about Larry Lipson, and his and his family’s 37,000-acre property in Western Montana.  Part cattle ranch, part resort, part movie set (see: “A River Runs Through It“), much of the location’s appeal lies in its stunning scenery and much of its stunning scenery rests on the tens of thousands of trees.

Image Source: Photobucket, Jennifer Harvey

Enter the mountain pine beetle (MPB), Dendroctonus ponderosae and global warming:

Mountain pine beetles inhabit ponderosa, lodgepole, Scotch and limber pine trees. Normally, these insects play an important role in the life of a forest, attacking old or weakened trees, and speeding development of a younger forest. However, unusual hot, dry summers and mild winters in Montana during the last few years, along with forests filled with mature lodgepole pine, have led to an unprecedented epidemic.

The Lipson family decided to take an aggressive approach to stop the infestation, identifying infected trees (their needles turn red), clearing the surrounding area, cutting the trees down and hauling them out.  This is where the story gets interesting:

But now they had thousands of tons of lumber to dispose of. While other landowners burned the wood or sent it to mills to be mulched into sawdust, Mr. Lipson, a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, was eager to find a better use.

Aware that the wood itself was not damaged, Mr. Lipson sent it off to be processed for use in flooring and other projects on the ranch.  “What came back surprised him: a shimmery, blue-tinged wood. The mountain pine beetle, he found out, carries a fungus that produces a natural blue stain.”  Sweet. Recognizing the unique quality of the wood, he decided to use it to make Apple accessories: an iPhone case; MacBook Air case; iPad stand and iPad case.

They’re a bit pricey, “Bad Beetle’s iPhone backs, for instance, cost $69, whereas silicone ones by the fashion designer Marc Jacobs sell for up to $48 and resin hard cases by Kate Spade are $40.”  But they’re beautiful and the story is good, so good, one has to hope that they’ll do well.

So, here is your daily dose of inspiration.  What are your lemons?  Can you find a way to turn them into lemonade?

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Image Source: Bad Beetle

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§ One Response to Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

  • […] On Monday, I wrote about an article published in the Sunday Business section of The New York Times, ”Invasion of the Beetles, and a Rancher’s Revenge.” Montana property owner Larry Lipson took what could have been a devastating infestation of the mountain pine beetle and turned it into an Apple accessory business, Bad Beetle.  His products are beautifully crafted and his prices reflect that.  Mr. Lipson is counting on the compelling story to tug on the pursestrings of potential customers.  He is not the only one. […]

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