High-quality craftsmanship and employee safety are principles that drive Duane and Tom Dunsirn. What started as an abstract idea almost 20 years ago has turned into a powerhouse production pottery shop.
Sunset Hill Stoneware employees permanently hand press custom artwork into 3-dimensional clay medallions and place them on hand thrown mugs and steins. What sets the company apart from mass-produced pottery is the initiative to conscientiously do things the right way for the safety of their employees and the protection of the environment. They have made ‘clean and green’ an integral part of their daily operation.
Supplier Relationships Matter
Clean green initiatives are the new norm. More companies are using products designed to preserve human health and the environment. And as organizations review their own sustainable measures – they include their supply chain partners. Leading businesses are careful to align their brand with partners who reflect their own mission and values.
Consider the councils who govern, direct and staff our national parks, monuments and forests. These representatives are committed to protect and preserve America’s natural resources. As millions of tourists visit these public lands, the common thread is to educate and leave the natural habitat as beautiful as or better than arrived for the next guest. It’s the same mission for conservation organizations like Duck’s Unlimited and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. These groups actively partner with conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts and volunteers to conserve natural habitat and wetlands.
Businesses want to work with suppliers who incorporate safe employee practices and maintain environmental consideration. More companies are requiring vs. simply requesting vendors comply with high environmental standards. After all, it’s a reflection on them.
Changing the Industry
As we’ve gained a greater understanding of our customer’s ecological initiatives, we proactively invested in clean, green initiatives to match today’s efforts.
Producing pottery creates dust; and any type of dust is not lung friendly. What makes it more challenging; it’s not easy to get rid of dust. In fact, dusting, sweeping and vacuuming creates more dust – and not having adequate circulation units in place can jeopardize long-term health. If you look at pottery facility photos – you will see dust in the air, at workstations and in corners – it’s simply an endless job when you don’t have the right processes in place.
Of course, if you don’t routinely clean up the dust, you get dirt. Mix dirt with high humidity levels created from heavy water usage, along with summertime temperatures, and that can create a dark, damp environment ideal for mold growth. You can’t get around the summer heat or 2200° kiln temperatures by adding circulating fans. That simply stirs up and circulates more dust. It’s that ongoing dust issue. You know how hard it is to remove dust from your house; imagine the situation for pottery manufacturers.
Creating Pottery Heaven
Tom and Duane wanted to do things right for their employees – and ultimately their customers. The goal was to attain optimal indoor air quality and comfort for employees, while gaining environmental excellence.
- Control harmful airborne contaminates (a/k/a silica) generated from clay dust via powerful custom-engineered clean air filtration and circulation systems. These systems supply a continuous flow of circulating fresh air for employees, while eliminating the ejection of harmful dust into the outside world.
- Monitor indoor/outdoor temperatures and humidity levels using smart technology that results in repeatable, precise year-round room temperature of 78° at 45% humidity – perfect for clay drying and employee comfort.
- Mitigate dust exposure with HEPA-approved vacuum tables that meet clean air standards.
- Intercept and separate water to prevent manufacturing by-products from affecting employees or local communities.
- Bright, uplifting work environment with white reflective painted walls and high-performance LED lighting.
To confirm our actions were successful, an independent environmental consulting firm was employed to conduct on-site testing for air quality. The company tested for respirable dust and crystalline silica levels; and final findings found our indoor air quality to be well within OSHA standards!
A Potter’s Work is Never Done
It would be nice to think that incorporating clean green initiatives is enough. It’s not. It’s a never ending task. In addition to employing full-time cleaners, our production staff helps with the process by washing down their individual work areas daily.
Evening wash downs are made easier with stainless steel work tables, sinks and washing stations, along with strategically placed floor drains and epoxy coated flooring. Metal floor grating in strategic locations facilitates easy, continuous and fast clean up throughout the day. We simply want to keep ‘clean and green’ an integral part of our daily operation – which in turn, gives you a quality-made, hand thrown, lead-free memorable mug safe for your family.
True Inner Beauty
We continue to work with retailers who see the beauty of our stoneware as well as feel the artisan-made craftsmanship. Knowing our story, merchants are confident that our well-made products reflect their own values and environmental standards. Sunset Hill Stoneware products are food safe, independently tested to meet FDA and California Proposition 65 compliancy standards, along with being oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.
Keeping watch. Pat