A boomer starts a new business near retirement age

It’s probably accurate to say that as baby boomers, most of us don’t go looking for a brand new life just as we’re approaching retirement. But read this story from Richard Woods of Tickfaw, Louisiana. He explains why he started a green energy business at retirement age.

I have owned and operated a reclaimed flooring business for forty years. I think I was drawn to the idea of woodworking and entrepreneurship as a result of my upbringing. I grew up in Colorado, spending the summers camping in the mountains and working at outdoor jobs.

Richard Woods

Richard Woods

I think this gave me a huge appreciation for adventure and nature. I knew I wanted to work with my hands and not have to sit behind a desk all day. I knew I wanted to be kind to nature. I have always been a golden rule follower and it was no different when it came to the environment.

In fact my wife and I started our business and built our home in the name of the environment and for the purpose of being eco-friendly. Recycling was the main goal for the business and this can be seen in our sawmill. We always prefer to buy used equipment and retrofit, giving it new life. We used recycled materials to build the home and what we created has natural heating and cooling concepts. It is protected by shade trees, and raised over a gully to allow cool air to circulate. The tall ceilings allow heat to rise in the summer with lots of windows for cross-ventilation. We used local labor and built the house as the funds became available.

The sustainable energy process that Richard Woods created.

The sustainable energy process that Richard Woods created.

However, for years it has bothered me that I could never find a good use for the sawdust waste from the sawmill. I sold shavings to all the local horse farms but it still didn’t feel like I was using the waste to its full potential. So, I started researching and came across the concept of biomass gasification, technology dating back to World War II that would turn organic matter like my sawdust into energy and heat!

A team approach: Richard and Judith Woods.

A team approach: Richard and Judith Woods.

The idea sparked the entrepreneur in me. I began building and testing systems to ensure that I fully understood the concept. After building three generations of successfully functioning machines, I decided that it was my opportunity and my duty to spread this technology and help preserve it for future generations. So at 62-years-old, instead of preparing to retire, I have started a green energy business. I don’t expect it to be THE answer to the energy issue, but if no one contributes AN answer, then the issue is no closer to being resolved.

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