When we started Grain Designs in the fall of 2013, our original business plan outlined the use of reclaimed wood as our primary building material. This was a choice for a few reasons…we were architecture students with an appreciation for conservation and sustainability, it was easily accessible with our existing resources, but the real driving force… at the time our reclaimed wood was free.
As you can imagine when you’re starting a new business out of a 20×25 apartment garage, the labor hours required to get the main source of your business for free was well worth it, no matter the time it took. After salvaging from our first house and a barn, we had enough material to start building a few designs. Looking back, the decision to use reclaimed wood was more out of necessity and sustainability. Over the years we’ve realized the real value of our reclaimed wood came from the stories that could be told of the material’s past. Then and now, we desire to be a company that stands for sustainability and quality, with each piece we build holding a story to share.
In 2014, we also tackled a couple more barns and buildings when time allowed but expanded our wood horizons to craigslist and local Fargo resources. Expanding our search led us to a large supply of bleachers that came from the NDSU Bison Sports Arena. Both Grant and Blain had graduated from NDSU and were aware of the large NDSU fan base. We saw this as an opportunity to design and build unique wall decor and furniture, that held TONS of sports history.
By 2015, Grain Designs had established a furniture reputation, building new pieces and managing client projects that began consuming our time. The time required to reclaim old buildings slowly became too much to juggle. Fortunately, over the years our material search became easier and we started to receive calls from individuals who were salvaging old buildings. We purchased various lots of wood that had already been reclaimed, which were closer to the ‘build-ready’ stage we valued.
2016-2018 – We turned to the professionals. By now we found our strengths designing and building so we began purchasing material from wood brokers in larger volume. While we are no longer laboring the hours to disassemble barns ourselves, we still stand for the same core principles that Grain Designs was founded on. We also continue to share the stories associated with the reclaimed wood and furniture.
If you purchase a custom piece of furniture from Grain Designs, you may notice a set of geographical coordinates burned into the wood on the corner or an edge. These coordinates mark the location of where the reclaimed wood we used to create your custom design was repurposed from.
Our primary source of reclaimed material today is the Globe Elevator in Superior, WI which dons the coordinates 46°44″33′ N 92°06″23″ W.
2019 – We’re still sourcing a large amount of material from the Globe Elevator in Superior as well as other sites in Wisconsin. While we’d love to simply place an order wherever available, the quality and condition of the reclaimed wood we use is very important to us. In the summer of 2019, we made the 7-hour drive to hill country Wisconsin to personally inspect the wood from a new vendor before purchasing. While the wood checked out, it was a trip that created valued memories, great relationships, and more shareable stories
While we wish we had more time to get back to our reclamation roots, we have been grateful to have a growing company that needs all hands on deck in the shop. To keep the shop materials fully stocked, we continue to replay on the professionals for our quality of reclaimed wood. With each passing project we continue to stand for sustainability and we look forward to carrying on the stories of each source that allow your custom designs to be brought to life.
As always, thanks for your continued support of Grain Designs.
-The GD team.