Urban loggers capture national attentionJudy Peres is wired for sound on a daily basis. Not only is she at the helm of deconstructing three massive grain elevators, she’s poised to become a reality TV star.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Judy Peres is wired for sound on a daily basis. Not only is she at the helm of deconstructing three massive grain elevators, she’s poised to become a reality TV star.
Cameras started rolling on Peres, chief executive officer of Old Globe Reclaimed Wood Company, and her crew July 2. The filming runs through the end of July. Footage shot at the Superior harbor site is expected to be featured on a national reality TV show’s new fall season.
“They’ve got three million viewers,” Peres said. “If three of them want to buy big chunks of reclaimed wood, we’ll be on the map.”
Film crew field producer Paul Andresen, a former Superiorite whose great-grandfather was a Duluth mayor, declined to say on which show the footage will air. Information received from the Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce indicated it is the History Channel’s “Ax Men.” But why would a series on the lumber industry focus on a grain elevator?
Since 2006, Peres and her partner David Hozza, chief executive officer of Old Globe’s parent company, Wisconsin Woodchuck LLC, have been engaged in urban logging. They are slowly reclaiming six million board feet of old-growth white pine from a pre-cut forest, the defunct Globe grain elevator complex. The trio of elevator buildings each boasts the footprint of a football field. The two storage buildings rise 80 feet high; the head building is 15 stories tall. Disassembling them, said Peres, is akin to taking down the pyramids.
“I don’t think there’s any business like ours in the world,” she said.
Wood from the pine forests of northwest Wisconsin and northeast Minnesota were used to construct the elevator, the biggest in the world when it opened in 1887. Four-inch wrought iron nails hold boards in place, and Douglas fir beams strengthen each grain bin.
To date, about one million board feet of antique wood has been pulled from the site, Peres said.
Pieces of the Globe can be seen at the AMSOIL Arena, Legendary Waters Resort and Casino, Vitta Pizza, the Carlton County Service Building and luxury homes in the region. Its wood can be milled for flooring and paneling, or used for furniture and carpentry. Old Globe subcontracts with Enterprise Wood Products out of Rhinelander to finish the antique boards.
“I think the reason people buy reclaimed wood is it’s so beautiful,” said Peres, a former Chicago journalist. They also appreciate the green nature of the business. Although Old Globe Reclaimed Wood Company shuttered its operations from 2008 to 2011 due to the poor economy, it has resumed work and now could be turned into a television star.
Peres said she hopes the filming will help increase the business’ profile.
“It’s worth the gamble to put the time and effort into the show,” she said.
The business has a cast of colorful characters, including two strong women leads, Peres and yard manager, Annette Tracy, as well as a daring employee with the nickname “Spiderman.” In a way, the 10-person crew is like their product.
Wood reclaimed from the elevator has a character all its own.
History has been stamped on each piece — from square nail holes, circular saw marks and rustic staining to the driftwood-like sculpturing effect caused by 101 years of grain pouring over the boards’ surface. Pulling it out and giving it new life is a job that Peres said will take years.
For more information on Old Globe Reclaimed Wood Company or Wisconsin Woodchuck LLC, call (715) 392-5110 or go to www.OldGlobeWood.com, which has a gallery of articles on the business.