- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) - Imagine taking apart old buildings and using the pieces as raw materials for new furniture, from restaurant booths to coffee tables to reception desks. That’s what Cleveland-based Rustbelt Reclamation envisions doing with a warehouse full of reclaimed wood, building materials and heavy machinery leftovers.

James “Deej” Lincoln, a former network television producer turned entrepreneur, started the business in 2011 as a custom furniture manufacturer called Reclaimed Cleveland, which harvested the wood, made the furniture and sold it as high-end, one-of-a-kind conversation pieces.

He is launching a related venture called Rustbelt Reclamation, with a small inventory of already-built bar stools, dining room tables, and bedroom furniture made out of reclaimed pine, maple and oak, all designed by industrial art graduates.

Salvaging materials from abandoned homes, factories and churches not only keeps them out of landfills, but also supplies him with a variety and quality he could never find in a lumber yard. The wood from Cleveland’s century homes most likely came from old-growth forests of solid, mature trees rather than the less-desirable trees farmed for do-it-yourself chain stores, Lincoln said.

“There’s a glut of material here to harvest,” but they have also driven to sites in Chicago, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, said Brinton Lincoln, Deej’s brother and the company’s vice president of operations. Rustbelt Reclamation won’t cut down trees, but they’re more than happy to cart away ones toppled by wind or weather.

Offering to take away unwanted building materials doesn’t always mean the owners are willing to let them have it. They got a good chunk, but not everything they wanted, out of the former Chrysler Stamping Plant in Twinsburg. That includes what-on-earth-was-that-for industrial pieces they’re still trying to figure out what to do with. Everything else in the factory got tossed out when the building was demolished.

Deej Lincoln runs his hand along a smooth-as-glass pecan-and-hickory tabletop, saying: “It’s hard to believe that somebody would throw this away, but unfortunately, it happens all the time.”

He eventually hopes to tap into federal dollars specifically earmarked for blight mitigation efforts.

Besides offices and private homes, the company’s work can also be seen at places like First Watch, Winking Lizard Tavern, Cedar Park Grille, the Courtyard Marriott at University Circle, and the Great Lakes Brewing Company.

During a recent tour of the company’s 80,000-square-foot warehouse, a former elevator factory, Lincoln showed off how his business has evolved.

Workers armed with metal detectors and pneumatic drills de-nail the wood and check for moisture damage, then cut, sort and stack the pieces on room-length pallets until they’re needed. Every piece has the address of the structure it came from painstakingly scribbled on one end.

That information, such as “Salvaged from T&B; Foundry,” is laser-engraved into a wooden chip that will be embedded into the lower right-hand corner of the tabletop or display case, as a permanent calling-card.

Besides conference tables and reception counters, skilled craftsmen including design director David Meyers and furniture designer Aaron Gogolin also shape smaller pieces into unique lamp tables, mirrors, cutting boards, even corkscrews and bottle openers.

Deej Lincoln talks about converting parts of the building into a retail showroom, with adjacent shipping departments that will deliver anywhere in the world. Once everything is built, he may offer tours of his craftsmen at work. In his mind, his still largely-empty factory is already humming.


Information from: The Plain Dealer, https://www.cleveland.com

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