*Story written for the Daily Record – http://www.omahadailyrecord.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=84&pid=33
Building his business on a foundation of expertise in his niche, Jason Gilbreath at Reclaimed Enterprises creates an environment in which customers are free to let their creativity take the wheel with reclaimed and salvaged wood.
“We want customers to feel welcome, to feel comfortable explaining what it is they are looking for, and to feel like they are talking to people that have expertise and actually care about the product,” Jason explains.
Working at First National Bank for 10 years, Jason was the head of wealth management and wore several hats during his time with the company. While serving on the board at the Boys and Girls Club, he saw the blighted housing of the city and wanted to do something to refurbish the area. Eventually, this led to the beginning of his business four years ago and the launch of Reclaimed Enterprises.
Now the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce has chosen Reclaimed Enterprises as their April Small Business of the Month.
Jason appreciates the help of the Chamber for their assistance in growing their network within the immediate community. “They offer a lot of programs that are there to help businesses grow and give them access to expertise. They featured us in one of the “We Don’t Coast” publications. I think the Chamber has done quite a bit to help us,” remembers Jason.
Working with local arborists and building owners in the area, Reclaimed Enterprises uses salvaged trees and reclaimed wood that are otherwise thrown away and repurposes them into something new. For example, a condemned barn that is deemed unsafe may have reclaimed wood that is worth a commission through a firm like Reclaimed Enterprises, who can “take it on consignment and help clients sell it.”
From wall treatments to doors, flooring, furniture, mantles and more, reclaimed wood can turn into something entirely new, as demonstrated in the showroom at Reclaimed Enterprises. Even the flooring there is made from reclaimed shipping container flooring, as is Jason’s own desk.
Sourcing materials from all over the Midwest, including Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming, Minnesota and South Dakota, Jason works with a variety of woods including black walnut, sugar maple, hickory, chestnut, oak and ash. In Omaha, according to Jason, 90 percent of the buildings they source wood from contain Douglas fir or pine.
They also source materials from blighted buildings including warehouses as well as homes. Geographically, he explains, “the further east you go, the more hardwood you’ll find in the old buildings.”
Depending on several variables, understanding each piece of wood is essential when deciding which material to use for any given project. Two-time customers Greg and Nancy Rexwinkel were extremely satisfied with the level of expertise Jason and his team demonstrated in replicating the same mantle from two differently sourced wooden beams. “We needed a replica and it looks perfect,” says Nancy.
The most interesting aspect to Jason’s job is the amount of local history his firm possesses in one warehouse. Currently, it contains 44 beams from one of the oldest buildings in South Dakota, and over 40 massive round timbers that were once structural supports for a Union Pacific Building.
One project of note was referred to Jason by Project Advocates when Creighton was planning the removal of the Joseph J. Vinardi Center 1915 gym floor. The University has an on-campus green initiative, and once the deconstruction was completed, Reclaimed Enterprises was engaged to design and build new products from the flooring, including everything from commemorative bottle openers to butcher blocks, coffee tables and bar tops with ample square footage to spare.
With a focus on craftsmanship, Jason must sometimes allow the material to dictate what it will be used for as a finished product. Once a material has been selected for a project, Jason and his team of experts ensure every piece of wood is in the right condition for the project.
“We have a lot of timbers that we source for use as mantles and shelves. For those we actually have a small kiln that we will bake them in at about 185 degrees for two to three days. This helps us make doubly sure they are dry and will eliminate any dormant insects.”
The team also must remove any old nails, clean, brush and cut the wood to the proper size, and re-mill it for each client’s needs. However, they do everything they can to preserve the integrity and original beauty of each piece of reclaimed wood.
While it may seem to be a material reserved for a certain aesthetic, reclaimed wood is here, it is accessible and it is readily available for use in any number of commercial and household design projects. Often beginning consultations with a tour of his warehouse, Jason explains, “being able to recognize potential is the reason we’ve developed the expertise we have, that’s why we have our showroom, that’s why we strive to show people how the material changes.”
By seeing the difference between the raw material and a finished product, he said it is surprising what can be accomplished with a reclaimed wood and the expertise of an experienced staff. If you are at all curious about adding a reclaimed wood product to your space or selling lumber on consignment, contact Reclaimed Enterprises, located in the North Downtown Makerhood at 1445 North 11th Street. Their products can also be found at Millard Lumber Showroom and http://www.reclaimedenterprises.com.