Making home-improvement green


"Green Way Supply draws a crowd

For most of his adult life, Terry Black was a filmmaker. The key to his success was his ability to tell stories. But in 2001, as he watched the destruction on Sept. 11, Black realized it was time for him to change. “I realized I needed to do a lot of things differently,” he says.

Black had always considered himself an environmentalist. He found himself being drawn to home-improvement products that enabled people to make their homes more earth-friendly. Soon he was successfully selling solar fans, attic fans made in Indiana and powered by sunlight that pull heat from hot attics and reduce the cost of air conditioning.

Then Black met Fred Gray and Randy Gray. The Grays owned Pro-Gard, a successful home-improvement business. The three formed a partnership and Green Way Supply: the first home-improvement store in Indianapolis dedicated to supplying home owners with a full line of green products.

For Black, the storyteller, it was a logical next step: “There’s a story behind each and every product that we sell.

“As a country, we’re burning through everything,” Black says. “We’re burning through products and services, cars and homes — and people. Part of my own maturity process has involved realizing we’re running out of things to burn. The world we live in is determined by the business we do. I want to do green business because I want a green world.”

Green Way Supply gives everybody with a home-improvement project the chance to add a little green to where they live. Green Way carries flooring, cabinetry, countertops, window shade systems, paints and caulks and cleansers that feature recycled and renewable materials and ingredients. Everything Green Way sells must meet one or more of four criteria — that is, it must be sustainable, renewable, healthy and/or energy efficient.

“The general misconception most people have about green products is that they’re ugly,” Black says. “Or they’re not cost effective, or they’re cumbersome and awkward — or just not as good. A lot of early products were like this. But it’s not your dad’s green anymore. The new green is cool and beautiful and competitively priced.”

Black thinks green products represent a growing boom that will be comparable to the dotcom industry. Consumers, he says, are driving this trend. In most cases they’re ahead of home builders and contractors. He cites a poll by the National Association of Homebuilders that asked prospective homebuyers if they thought new homes should include solar panels. “Ninety percent of those surveyed said solar panels should be included on all new homes. Now, what builder in Indianapolis is building homes with solar panels, or offering them as an option? The problem in Indiana is that we say if it’s good enough, it’s good enough.

“Not anymore. A furnace that’s 75 percent efficient — you’re burning money. A gas guzzler is burning money. People get that.”

Green Way also emphasizes locally made products. Their cabinets, for instance, are built by Amish craftspeople.

“Most people start with light bulbs,” Black says by way of describing what brings people into his store. “Then caulking and a little more insulation. Their values and the value that a product represents can be the same now; you can get a really good product and start going down the green path with everything you do. But you have to start, and you have to start today.”

Green Way Supply is located at 620 N. Delaware St.; 317-822-8505;



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