By Erin Coates

9Wood was started on July 1, 2004, but only after many meetings of its four creators. Dan Boustead, Andy Gossard, Leo Batenhorst, and Charley Coury had been thinking about going into the custom wood ceiling business together, but Andy suggested they reach a consensus on their mutual values for the company before they started. Over coffee at The Beanery, they developed five core values—character, partnership paradigm, servant leadership, improving the economic welfare and quality of life of all stakeholders, and accountability—that have shaped the company ever since. “Many things have changed at 9Wood over the past 13 years,” Coury says. “But not our values.”

“We bring into reality the designs architects conceive, specifically suspended wood ceiling designs,” Coury says. 9Wood’s wood ceilings, installed in office buildings, auditoriums, churches, and other public spaces, typically have two functions: beauty and acoustics. The wood ceilings are attached through a variety of means, and to actualize the architect’s design the company’s engineers have to consider different factors like accessibility, seismic compliance, fire rating, sound absorption, color and texture, critical lighting, and humidity levels. “We have a bunch of talented engineers,” Coury says. “Many of us have worked together for over 15 years, having acquired, through the school of hard knocks as much as anything, lessons learned that we apply to all these unique designs.”

Although 90 percent of 9Wood’s products are shipped out of state, the company has many ceilings installed around Eugene and Springfield, such as in the new addition at the Eugene Airport. There are more than 15 9Wood ceilings at the University of Oregon campus, and the company’s builders sometimes take walking tours of the campus to see the end product in that environment. “It’s fun to listen to their comments and memories about the project challenges,” Coury says.

9Wood’s mission to improve the economic welfare and quality of life of all stakeholders is, in Coury’s words, a pretty good reason to get up in the morning and go to work. The owners think a lot about how to do business well by honoring the stakeholders. “It’s the idea that profits are the fruit of doing things right,” Coury says. “That if you aim too hard for money, profits ‘take wings and fly away’—a bit like happiness, perhaps.” 9Wood strives to support the community and take care of the environment. The company is also promoting sustainability through planting trees and fostering healthy forests, wood being the ultimate sustainable architectural material. Many of their projects are certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council.

One of Coury’s favorite projects is the Grace Community Church in New Canaan, Connecticut, for which they won an award. The designers wanted a smooth transition from the exterior landscape to the interior wood ceiling, provided by 9Wood. Each plank was laid out for approval before installation, requiring patience and precision.

“I think the future will continue to embrace ‘high-tech/high-touch,’” Coury says, referring to “Jon Nesbit’s observation that humans need balance between virtual, digital reality and natural, physical reality.” Wood inspires a sense of nature and the organic that humans need. 9Wood is also trying to address other timely issues, like providing entry-level roles, and helping employees learn how to do things such as make a home budget and spend wisely. “We want it to be a place where it is safe—physically, emotionally, sexually, spiritually—where there is space to grow and mature,” says Coury. “We all need places like that, and work is often the opposite of that.”

999 S A St., Springfield