For years Oregon has shipped logs and wood chips to Asia and seen them come back as finished materials.
The timber products may continue to cross the Pacific, but Chris Stangland has launched a company that will return some jobs to Oregon.
Lake Oswego-based TreeSmart Industries is turning recycled newspapers into pencils and hopes to capture between 2 and 5 percent of the $250 million pencil market within the next four years.
The company has scheduled Earth Day demonstrations at schools across Oregon, including Medford.
Stangland's plan is to produce a product for students, who have heard the recycling call, but don't often see the end result.
The Earth Day event on Monday in Medford is at Hoover Elementary School, where TreeSmart will demonstrate how recycled newspapers will be refashioned into pencils.
"No one has done recycling like this in a closed-loop fashion," Stangland said. "Most of the time the kids put material in the recycling bins, its hauled off and they never see it again. This will let them see the end result."
In exchange for recycled papers, students will receive two No. 2 TreeSmart pencils.
He said the Oregon-made pencils (with Tennessee-made latex-free erasers) will be sold in Bi-Mart stores beginning this summer. Twelve-packs will retail for approximately $3.89, he said.
"They're going to price exactly the same as Ticonderoga," he said. "We're going to see how we stand up to the big boys, and that's exciting. We want them ready in time for back-to-school," Stangland said.
He started a company in 1978 that grew to 160 employees before selling it in 1986. Stangland began distributing toys and stationery products made in China in 1998. Three years ago he formed TreeSmart, which produced early editions of the pencils in China.
Coming full circle, production has returned to the U.S.
TreeSmart's promotion strategy is centered on a "Made in America" theme, pointing out the dearth of domestic pencil producers. Eventually, the company plans to expand into mechanical pencils, as well as construction of additional rolling machines for the newspaper pencils.
The school recycling program demonstrated at Hoover Elementary School is part of an overall strategy to reach into 30,000 schools over the next two years.
Schools participating in the program with TreeSmart will use pencils bearing the school name for fundraisers. A pack of four pencils will sell for $2.25.