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Source: SF Gate

How Heritage, others are salvaging success

Carolyn Said, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stories pour forth like water from a spring as Michael "Bug" Deakin leads a tour of Heritage Salvage, his building-materials-recycling yard in Petaluma.

"Those are hand-hewn beams from an 1890s barn in Quincy, Calif.," he said, thumping the stack with a cowboy-boot-clad foot. He hopped up onto a parade float made from recycled chicken coops. "Petaluma has the Butter & Egg Day parade in April and we try to build something different for it every year."

Around the corner were wide planks milled from the remains of a 1911 Hunts Ferry warehouse in Maupin, Ore. "Old-growth virgin redwood - it doesn't exist anymore," he said.

"The talking stories of these materials is something we're missing in these days when everyone is texting and shortening," said Deakin, 60. A trim, garrulous man, he clearly savors the history aspect of salvage. "For me, it's the song of the wood that I'm so happy to be learning. I go out of my way to find out and record the story of the buildings that all the wood comes from."

Spread over 3 acres next to the Petaluma River, Heritage Salvage has about 350,000 to 450,000 board feet of wood reclaimed from dilapidated farm structures, wind-felled trees, demolished old houses and other sources.

To keep off the rain, many stacks of wood are covered in brightly colored billboards that Deakin buys in bulk. "They're UV protected, more durable than tarps - and it's something else we're keeping out of landfill," he said. Cutting landfill use

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Reducing landfill accumulations is a huge environmental concern, and salvage yards like Heritage are key in diverting used building materials, which by their nature are among the bulkiest waste. Since passing a landmark waste-management law in 1989, California has gone from recycling just 10 percent of its trash to finding other uses for an impressive 58 percent, according to the Integrated Waste Management Board.

These days much of the recycled material at Heritage basically "walks into the yard" as farmers, builders, arborists and architects contact Deakin when they need something demolished or removed.

"It's like a treasure hunt; I love the first couple of days in an old chicken shed; you find all sorts of things that people stored in there," he said.

Besides selling materials to builders, carvers and homeowners, Heritage crafts custom pieces from the reclaimed wood. Gather Restaurant, which opened this week in Berkeley's David Brower Center, has an array of furniture and fixtures from Heritage.

Read More at SF Gate

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Michael Meuser bootstrapped his way into the salvage and recycling business in the early 1980s. He began with building deconstruction and scrap metals and then moved into electronics, computer and telecommunications scrap where he learned to recover gold and other precious metal.
Michael tells his story, provides resources and offers his advice at his website, RecyclingSecrets.com, and his blog, Recycling Secrets Blog. Recently Mike completed the eBook How to Make Money in the Home Based Salvage and Recycling Business. It is a chronicle of his experiences, successes and failures in the business. Also, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

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