Excerpt from “What’s old is new – more builders and homeowners choose to reclaim, reuse and recycle”

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Excerpt from “What’s old is new – more builders and homeowners choose to reclaim, reuse and recycle”
By: Paula Wrenn, Marin Independent Journal, July 12, 2003

Historic American structures reclaimed

If your decor tastes are more aligned with Americana, perhaps you’d like to incorporate some aromatic, highly-textured wood from an old tobacco barn. Black’s Farmwood in San Rafael supplies reuse wood from a variety of sources including old barns, re-milled redwood beams and a variety of sources.

Owner Michael Black grew up on an Ohio tobacco farm and was working on a PhD in clinical psychology when he reached a proverbial fork in his career road.

In 1999, Black’s grandmother was about to have a fallen tobacco barn burned but Michael thought there might be a better solution. His business was born when he provided a sample of the wood to a contractor who was willing to pay his expenses to process and ship the wood. Word-of-mouth brought architects and other builders to him.

Black decided his true calling was developing an environmentally friendly business through this opportunity. Today, wood salvaged by Black has been used in decor at the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas, in corporate offices in San Francisco, on theme homes in Lake Tahoe, in Wolfgang Puck’s trendy restaurant and in numerous wineries.

Whether saving an old threshing floor, a redwood water tank or rustic Douglas fir beams from the landfill, the antique wood Black supplies to clients often is of historic value. Antique wood for wide plank tongue and groove flooring reworked at mills in Western New York and California prior to shipping to his customers.

“My customers have found dates and carving on beams. Reclaimed wood has history and character and its old growth properties just aren’t available in new wood,” he says.
Though there is a big business in antique hardware, Black focuses on demand for the wood, saying reclaimed wood is farther from the landfill than recycled wood.

“My attorney is currently working on an agreement for me to purchase reclaimed wood from the historic Pacific Lumber mill in Scotia,” he says.

Black says there currently is no industry organization setting standards for businesses that reclaim wood. As with just about any other product, there are Internet scams preying on those who want a “deal.” He recommends that builders and homeowners buy locally from businesses with long-term supplier relationships and that provide references.