Northwoods businesses to be featured on reality TV show
Will appear in History Channel’s ‘Ax Men’ for their work with reclaimed lumber
By Sarah Hirsch of the Lakeland Times
(This article is as printed in the Northwoods River News)
Two Rhinelander businesses that work with reclaimed lumber are making history – on the History Channel.
After receiving a phone call from History Channel’s “Ax Men” asking if they reclaim wood, owners of Enterprise Wood Products Ray Burgan and Steve Ory directed the reality TV show to Judy Peres and Dave Hozza, owners of Old Globe.
“So the story line is about Dave and Judy and how they bought these grain elevators. When the housing industry went down, they ended up in bankruptcy. Now Northern Wood Innovations is buying all the lumber and selling some to Enterprise Wood Products and some to other people,” Steve Ory, owner of Northern Wood Innovations, said.
Built in the late 1800s, the grain elevators located in Superior are being deconstructed and the structures’ old growth white pine recycled. One of the grain elevators constructed in 1887, the “Globe Elevator,” was the biggest grain storage facility in the world, containing about six million board feet of wood.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t have a clue about what’s going on up there and the product that comes out of it, so I think it could open a lot of eyes,” Tom Ory, Steve Ory’s son and manager of Northern Wood Innovations, said. Tom Ory will also be featured on “Ax Men” with his father and Burgan.
The story featured on “Ax Men”
In 2006, Peres and Hozza were contracted to take down the grain elevators. One year later they decided to purchase the massive structures and take on the project themselves.
“She had a successful career as an editor and he had a successful career as an investment banker. They decided to buy these grain elevators thinking that the reclaim green effort would just take off, and they bought them at the exact wrong time,” Burgan said.
Then “Ax Men” came into the picture “purely by accident,” Peres described.
“They were looking to expand their focus to more reclaimed wood,” Peres said. “We’re very excited. We’re hoping it will bring some national attention to what we think is an absolutely gorgeous product. It’s really quite unique.”
In the episode, Burgan and the two Orys will act as Old Globe’s clients that purchase the reclaimed lumber. Northern Wood Innovations makes the initial buy, treats the lumber and sells it to Enterprise Wood Products, which uses the finished product for floors, cabinets and more.
“It was a lot of fun. We had a good time doing it,” Burgan said.
“Just to be able to say you’re on a TV series (is fun),” Ory said.
Working with reclaimed lumber? Burgan and the two Orys do it almost on a daily basis. Working with reclaimed lumber while being filmed for a reality TV show? This was something new.
“There was no script. It was basically improvisation. It was, ‘OK, here’s the story and here’s where you fit in.’ And we didn’t have much advance notice at all,” Burgan said.
If Northern Wood Innovations and Old Globe receive good ratings, they could be featured in future “Ax Men” seasons.
But this reality TV show isn’t just about selling reclaimed lumber – it’s about the risks taken in order to get the wood.
“They’re working 90 feet in the air. They hang from ropes and they swing from wall sections over people’s heads. It’s a very dangerous job,” Ory said.
Northern Wood Innovations and Enterprise Wood Products will be featured in the sixth season of “Ax Men,” which is scheduled to air in November.
However, being on TV isn’t the most important thing for Burgan and the two Orys when it comes to reclaimed lumber.
“[Lumber] is a resource that’s been taken and needs to be reused and revived. It’s something that’s out there. Would you just want to burn it and cause a bunch of ash, or tear them down and haul them to a landfill or make a room beautiful?” Ory said. “People want to reuse this wood instead of seeing it go to waste. It’s like recycling paper and plastic.”
Not only is it environmentally friendly, reclaimed lumber provides an intangible that fresh cut wood doesn’t.
“You can get something really cool out of [reclaimed wood] that you can’t get from regular wood. It’s a story. It’s a conversational piece,” Tom Ory said.