Recent Blog Posts
When the sun comes up again
The sun comes up and with it a fresh new day. Hope and excitement fill my thoughts. I create a list of things I want to accomplish. The list is long, but that is ok. I have the entire day ahead of me. I grab my diet coke and whatever is appealing on the McDonald’s menu… You relate. I know you do. I have never been a coffee drinker… diet coke is like oxygen to me. I cannot be without it.
I have already answered emails, sent text and chatted with those that left late voicemails. The kids have been scooted off to school. I will either go to a barn, the mill, another lumber yard, the shop or to my office. Invoices need sent and photographs need to be taken. I love the variety of what I do. I am not the kind of person that can do that same thing each day. So the fact that no two days are alike is perfect to me.
I never expected or dreamed that I would be doing this. I did expect to be doing something very different than most. I just always seemed to follow the path not taken. This path was so unexpected. I tell people that I accidentally started this business. That is as honest as I can be. I was searching. Searching for something I could feel passionate about. Aren’t we all? A place where I could call my own shots. A place where I could follow my heart. A place where I could make a difference. I never dreamed it would be reclaiming barns. (So don’t limit where your search takes you)
So as I continue my day, there is no one to blame when things go wrong. And go wrong they do. Products take longer than expected to create. Shipping gets turned upside down. Quotes get rejected. The weather refuses to cooperate no matter what Weather Bug says each hour will bring... Everyone seems to need things yesterday…. But that isn’t just small business owners that feel these issues- is it? Don’t we all feel them?
If we were perfect people in a perfect world, wouldn’t it all be easier. The feeling of being invincible that we wake up with would still be there come night time. But we are not. We are imperfect. These imperfections seem to eat at us as the day drags on into night. By the time the sun has set and the kids are in bed, I have no excitement left in me. I have very little hope left. Instead I am full of doubt… often left asking myself… what was I thinking?
But failure isn’t an option. So, I look forward to tomorrow… when the sun comes up again, when the wave of new hope and excitement set in again, because failure just isn’t an option. The path not taken is such because this is hard work. Going where others have not gone is hard work. If you are on this path, you are not alone. I am excited for you. And I am here if you need someone to cheer you on!!!
“This isn’t just business: it is personal.”
“This isn’t just business: it is personal.”
I love old hard wood floors and the sound of my children running through the kitchen and hearing their bare feet smacking against it. I treasure the feeling of my handmade table top. It reminds me of my grandma’s house when I was ten. Knowing those things about me doesn’t tell you how long I’ve been in business or how skilled I am at woodworking, but it will help you understand how passionate I am about what matters most... How you feel about your home! It tells me what you want that space to reflect about you. Maybe you grew up in the country, but live in a busy town now, and you want a piece of country to share with others when they visit and to remind you of where you came from…. Or you are like my customer last week. You purchased a new apartment in the city and it is filled with iron, brick and beams. He wanted his décor to match that. He wanted those that entered that space to feel that industrial look that he loves so much.
I love to search through the piles of lumber to find something you will fall in love with. That wood for your dream table that will find its way into your forever home. A space in which you will share memories, laughter and tears with your friends, children, and loved ones. It isn’t about just purchasing a new mantel to replace the old one. It is so much bigger than that. It is about finding just the right piece that reflects who you are. That special memory that has stuck with you since childhood. That design you saw in a magazine that grabbed your attention and stayed with you. A feeling you get when you see something you know is all you.
Knowing you as my customers helps me do more than create a special design or look for your home, and your families. Taking the time to sit and talk allows us to get to know one another. Sharing with me how your home feels and looks creates a connection. What colors you enjoy and what you just cannot stand gives me insight…. Where you drink your coffee, your favorite T.V. shows, your children’s lives... I find out where my customers work or about their pets. Taking the time to get to know each other allows me to learn about what matters to you; your home, your style, and that special environment that you want to design.
The idea that I will create a piece of furniture or an accent wall that will express who you are is almost overwhelming. It is absolutely humbling to think that so many will trust me to be part of their personal space. Because isn’t that what our homes are; our most personal space. Where are able to let our guard down, surround ourselves with things we treasure, and entertain those that mean the most to us. It is an honor to be part of that space.
That is why it is so important that we get to know one another. “This isn’t just business: it is personal.”
What is the difference in the local mill or lumber yard and Reclaimed Barns and Beams?
Did you want a certain measurement for the project you are doing yourself? Did you want to select a beam for a mantel and have it finished for you, or design a table and build it there? Did you want to be part of something different? Reclaimed Barns and Beams is designed to help you do all of those things. Reclaimed Barns and Beams is not just a lumber yard. It is that, but it is so much more. It is a space. A space which ideas grow, friendships are made, and history is passed along to future generations.
Have you ever gone to Home Depot to purchase a 2x5 piece of lumber that is 4 ½ feet long? Are you able to do that? Or you did you want to create a table top from ReclaimedLumber or Live Edge Wood that is 43 inches wide and 80 inches long?
In most cases you have to purchase the full board. So you might end up buying that 2x5 in a 8 ft board. Why? The lumber yard has no use for the remaining 3 ½ feet of wood that you did not want, but neither do you. Reclaimed Lumber or Live Edge Mills are no different. They do not have a way to sell the left- over pieces of wood that you do not need; so you are asked to buy entire board. It makes business sense on their part. They are in the business of selling lumber and not stock piling scrap pieces no one wanted to purchase.
At Reclaimed Barns and Beams this is not the case, which makes it different. You are able to purchase just the material that you need or have the boards cut to your specifications. The reclaimed beams, siding, and lumber will be cut down and sold to you in the amount that you need for that perfect mantel, set of shelves or table top. The Reclaimed Lumber and Live Edge Wood are full of character and uniqueness. I will use the remaining lumber for a different project so it never goes to waste.
Unlike many mills and lumber yards Reclaimed Barns and Beams will finish your piece for you if that is what you need. We can sit down together and design the piece you want. Then you can select the Reclaimed Lumber or Live Edge Wood material that you want to use to create it. I will then build and finish your piece for you. That makes the piece custom designed by you which is not what most lumber yards or mills specialize in doing. I do have access to the same mill tools: kilns, planers, sanders, and other large mill tools. It is the best of both worlds. Many have trouble talking the mill talk: board foot, checking, species of wood. I did too not long ago. Live and learn. Right! I am a great translator for those that know what they want, but do not speak “Lumber Mill”.
Having a vision for what you want to create when you are looking at a pile of beams or boards is often difficult. After all it is a pile of wood, how do you get a clad wall out of that? I have finished pieces and pictures that will help you see what it is your piece might look like. Reclaimed Barns and Beams website is filled with videos, how to directions and ideas for you to use to create with regardless if you purchase your materials here or somewhere else. So is it a shop or a showroom. Actually it is both. A showroom displaying finished pieces and a shop that creates yours for you.
Many people just want to make their own furniture or mantel. I let you do that at your place or mine. I supply you with everything you need at my Maker’s Space Events- Starting in April. You build it at Reclaimed Barns and Beams. So, you have access to space so you can build and store your project, materials to create it with as well as a group of people to bounce ideas and thoughts off of while you are creating. Tickets are still available on my website for these events.
Reclaimed Barns and Beams is a place that is just different. I wanted to take the heritage that is found in the historic barn and create a space where people could get what they need to make something special with such unique lumber. Reclaimed Barns and Beams is not just a lumber yard or a mill. It is a big idea that has turned out to be a reality. It is a space in which history is reclaimed, people can gather, and tradition is shared with future generations.
Pacing! Not over promising! Being on time! Wow! Those things are hard enough to do in everyday life. Well for me anyway. As an entrepreneur that is looking to grow a business, it is even more difficult. I have great intentions! I Mean Well! I am trying my best! Those things mean nothing to a customer when I fill orders late or run short on materials. Yes. I mean those things when I say them. Yes, I worry more about completing the orders than they will ever know. Yes, I want to please everyone… But then reality slaps me right in the face.
Too many commitments… weather… other people… not enough time in the day….the list goes on and on. All of those things can contribute to not meeting important deadlines. But how do I fix the problem? I have watched motivational speakers! Read self-help books. I have heard all the criticisms.
I mean, I rarely get anywhere on time. Are there people that really do this? “Time flies when you are having fun.” Well it really flies when I am late. Do you ever notice that too? And when a customer places an order, I feel some sort of unexplainable need to meet all of their needs. So, I without hesitation agree to a timeline. And then the next customer makes a request, then the next. Sound familiar? Then I am hit with baseball practices, dentist appointments, the unexpected truck breaking down, or washing machine going out. Because let’s not forget being a mother doesn’t go on hold just because I am starting a business. And machines don’t last forever- and they always know when it is the worst time to fall apart. I mean seriously! I wake up and think, “I have got this!” and then the day happens… and I don’t have it at all.
Making people happy is part of the ongoing need that is inside every entrepreneur. That is what business is all about. Entrepreneurs find that “special thing” that they can share with others. That “special thing” to make their life easier, better, healthier, happier. It is the main goal. If meeting a deadline will make a customer happy then that is what I WANT to do. And then what happens, I fail.
This failure to meet timelines creates an upset customer, as well as that onset of negative thoughts for me. In small business the day is filled with failure. It is not typically something to shy away from as an entrepreneur. Those that do will never make it, but this type of failure is different. It is not self-projected failure. It is failure that someone else sees. It weighs heavily on a person. It creates a sense of self-doubt. It creates those thoughts of second guessing the ability to manage a successful business.
So, how do I start to resolve this? Setting timelines out farther than needed, so that there is opportunity to complete orders early. Early orders make people happy and relieve the stress on me. But if it were that simple, why don’t I already do it? I know the logic. I understand the problem. Why am I perpetually late for appointments? Why do I overextend myself? Am I just simply flawed? Or is there hope for me yet?
Risk is something that is hard to set out knowingly upon. You calculate and measure and repeat…then leap. The hard part for me is not the calculating or the leaping it is the knowing. Knowing when to leap… Knowing how far… Knowing when to use a safety harness… knowing when I have risked too much…
Starting a new business literally from scratch requires all kinds of decisions and with that many, many risks and a whole lot of leaping… blindly at that. Things that you already have a good idea about, well those are far and few between. Most of the decisions are made around things I have never pondered or even dreamed of wanting to know.
How to set up an LLC? How to measure board footage compared to linear footage? What kind of crowbar to use when taking down 20 ft pieces of reclaimed siding? How to operate a Bobcat in the freezing cold? What to charge for the materials so you are not at a loss in the bank after each sale? Down to how to fix the clutch on your 1991 Ford Pick -up when it breaks in the middle of a costly project? Oh the risks. Oh the not knowing…
Risks around every corner that no one else really feels the same way I do about are what I wake up to each and every day. I like you do probably take failure personally. Each risk has a tendency to lead to failure. More often than not actually these are live and learn experiences. I have to live through them to learn where I went wrong and where to leap next time. Where I did not know enough and where I risked too much often gets me into trouble. Some of my problems, concerns, questions I could ask advice to solve in the moment. Others I watched you tube videos at 3 am. While still others, I just took a big ole fat guess at it. Those are the hardest risks of all. The ones you blindly attack and usually involve the most risk.
The important part is not how I answered the questions or solved my problems or leaped. The important part is I am willing to take the risk over and over again even when the results are bad and the days are long. Because without the risk there will never be any success.
And along the way I will leap too far. I will fail miserably. I think I have 35 times today alone, but who is counting. I have learned so much. I have grown and feel accomplishment in that each day. And this business is growing despite my failure and because of my willingness to take the risks.
So if you are one of those that hesitate: Wanting to leap, but you are afraid of the risk. I say GO FOR IT! Take that leap forward. Start whatever it is you have been waiting to start. After all, we are all going to fail no matter what; it is part of life. Shouldn’t we fail doing what we love instead of failing at what makes us miserable anyway? Take that risk. Make that leap! Find success!
Shine on my friends and keep reclaiming your dreams… one risk at a time.
What in the world are you doing?
As I am flying to Charleston preparing to venture off to a small island resort,-Work related don’t get too jealous! I have to say, I am proud of myself. Not because I am on an American Airlines flight to Charleston. Heck, it is a work trip and I am flying coach in a window seat for heaven’s sake. I am proud of myself because I do the things that are different. I am not afraid of failure. And that belief system has taken me to places and allowed me to do things others will only dream of doing. And these are my thoughts as I look out the window at the sea of white fluffy clouds that are endless in the horizon.
What in the world are you doing? Do you ever hear that? I cannot tell you how often I am asked this. Daily would not even cut it. And I always have. The road less traveled… The path not taken... The hardest possible choice… I never took the easy way. It has never really occurred to me that I could not do something that I wanted to do. I have seven. Yes, seven children. And yes that is a lot of milk, eggs and bread each week. People often comment on my large family. Confused mostly is how I would describe them. It was always a dream of mine to have a large family, but the questions have been relentless. If we can dream it shouldn’t we live it? After all we only get so many trips around the sun. And why do others feel the need to criticize us for that belief system.
I wanted to be with my children so I chose a career path as an educator. You do what gets you the results you want. I loved watching children learn. Being surrounded with innocence and adventure on a daily basis was so rewarding. Why would you want to work as a teacher? They do not get any respect they said. Teacher’s salary+ 7 children, well you do the math, they said. I didn’t remember asking! Do you ever feel like that? Eventually, I needed new challenges. I sort of get bored quickly. So I ventured into educational sales. The endless condolences came pouring into me. If it doesn’t work out you can always go back to teaching they would say. It was as if they expected me to fail before I started. Encouraging, right? But I didn’t fail. I flourished. I made friends of a lifetime. I traveled all over this beautiful country, and I made a difference in classrooms. So when I decided to crawl around in dirty rotten barns, it never occurred to me that a business in Reclaimed Lumber would be anything else but successful. Oh and don’t you know it the criticism came flying. It makes me try harder. It pushes me.
I honestly believe with all that I am it is our belief in our self that matters most. Not what path we take, not the support from others, not the age that we are when we start something new. It is how we perceive our self, our strengths, and our passion. That is what sets us apart from those that question us. They are watchers, we are doers. And we would not know how to do it another way.
What a difference a little time makes!
I started out in 2016 with a "Big Idea." That is all I had.
No Truck, No Tools, No Space, No Knowledge...
Today, I have a Ford Truck - (red of course!) and a Trailer, I am remodeling a shop/showroom. (and embracing the mud). I have quite a selection of tools, and even know how to use them. I have gained knowledge I never dreamed of using or needing for that matter.
Thank you. Thank you for your support and good thoughts as I continue on this journey. You have been encouraging and motivating. And I thank you. (Some days are long, I cannot lie.)
If you have a Big Idea or a dream you have been sitting on for a while... what is stopping you? You may not be able to do everything at once. But don't let that stop you from starting! Just do something! Reclaim your dream!!! I'll be right here to cheer you on while you are on your journey!!
Often I find the most amazing pieces (my opinion only of course) at auctions that are simply in horrible shape. Those are my absolute favorite. I bid on them, excited to win the worst looking item at the auction. Addictive, I tell you!
I am flawed and damaged...much like the pieces I collect.
Reclaiming pieces from auctions and barns allows me to surround myself with the past. I love taking something flawed and damaged and reclaiming it. Making into something I love. Just like I do with these pieces, I have spent a lifetime reclaiming my own dreams. Repairing myself.
One Thing Leads to Another
Little did I know that one idea would turn into something I myself only could imagine? Not only a small business, but the ability to help others make their dreams come true. Friends, family, acquaintances, social media encounters, have all come together to reclaim pieces of history and pass that history forward.
I now have buildings on my farm filling up with reclaimed lumber. Lumber that I have had to learn to dismantle, board by board, without the barn falling in on top of me! Faced with the daunting and discouraging task of taking nails out of wood on a daily basis; wood that has been home to those nails for over 100 years, many times I thought I would call it quits, until I found secrets of the trade. I began shopping for things like pneumatic crowbars and a nail remover guns, which by the way causes my friends to question my sanity, not a first I might add, as they for the most part have no idea what I am talking about.
The dirt, the cold, the pesky critters are all part of the adventure. My ability to back a truck and trailer into extremely small spaces has become exceptionally impressive! Brag, Brag! Not to mention the ability to calculate board foot, square foot, and linear foot all at the same time with measurements you receive in a text message with no context at all. If you have not done this since 8th grade algebra, you might want to give it a shot. Not as easy as it sounds. And as I brag about this to people, they just look at me like I have lost my mind.
The bruises on my arms and legs are from hitting myself with boards and tools, but they make me look like I’ve gotten into a fight in some back alley and lost. There are always those men that tell me I should be careful when I have a chainsaw in my hand or say who takes those barns down for you... humph. A woman in a man’s work world is not new to me, nor will it slow me down.
I’ve set the bar high because with great expectations great things can happen. For many that is a lot to live up to, but for entrepreneurs, it is all that we know.
As I pull on old boots, t-shirt and jeans to drive an hour to walk through an old milking barn with someone who has deemed it is time to let it go, or I meet someone to show them our inventory of historic reclaimed beams that we just brought into the yard, I have one thought. - Well many thoughts, but one that stays with me...
This is it. This is what I love. This is what I want to do. One dream leads to another. I dream of a time where there are no conference calls, no reports or sales force entries, and no sales meetings that cause me to miss dinner with my children yet again.
And I will love it.
Just who am I?
I wanted to take a moment to share some answers to some of the questions I get.
What is it like having seven children is the one I am asked the most? I know it really is unusual, right? What was I thinking? I always wanted a Walton like family. For me being an only child at home growing up, I craved the busy sounds that a house full of children brought with it. Boy did I get that. There is always someone looking for something that only I can find. Many of you relate
Why use Reclaimed Lumber:
1) It's environmentally friendly. Reclaimed wood isn't grown on farms, which often cultivate only trees that grow fast, but aren't supportive of an ecosystem. Yes, it represents a tree that's been cut down, but at least it's getting another life in your home. Think of the time frame that these trees were growing and what was taking place in the country at that time.
2) It has an age and character that cannot be mimicked. Old wood likely grew in a natural environment where it had to fight for nutrients and sun, making the wood strong and durable. Aging also brings out the color in the wood.
3) Most old-growth wood is no longer available. Regulations prevent many species of tree from being harvested, so one couldn't buy new redwood for his siding, for example.
4) It has its own history. How many people do you know who have a 105 year old hand-hewn mantel in their living room?
Perfection… talk about a lofty goal
Why are we so focused on perfection anyway? The stress it causes. Don’t we have enough stress causing us grey hair and wrinkles? I mean after all, I am working with natural flaws to start out. Flaws in myself... Flaws in the reclaimed lumber that I am using… Flaws are what give us character after all. Some of us just have more character than others, right? Time has changed us. Damaged us. Why can’t we appreciate the character that time has developed?
Yet, here I am striving for perfection. I look at a finished pieces and miss out on the beauty they hold. My eyes instead go straight to the imperfections that I have caused. Why are we like that? Is it the criticism that surrounds us daily? Is it the natural way each of us has been trained to look at the world, and so, we carry that over to our projects? Do others see the imperfections that we see first?
These are my thoughts as I learn to cope with running a small business. Creating pieces for others naturally causes one to want to create the best piece possible. Whether you are creating an ad on social media, grooming dogs, doing someone’s taxes, or building furniture you want to seek perfection. The ideal goal is to leave a customer completely happy with your efforts. It is through our work that our own personality, character, and self is validated. If they see the work we do as imperfect, is that how they will see us?
How do we learn to appreciate our flaws? Should we? Would our lives be more enjoyable if we could?
It is our flaws that set us apart from others and makes us unique. It is the flaws that make reclaimed lumber unique. After all if we were interested in wood without character or flaws we would just go to Home Depot. Instead, I am climbing around in historic barns reclaiming often the most damaged pieces of lumber. Totally ignoring the nail holes, the split wood, and the dirt as I only see beauty. I see something that can be transformed into a beautiful shelf or a clad wall. If natures imperfections can be seen as beauty, why can’t ours?
So, my new goal is not perfection. My new goal is to embrace the beauty that the flaws I create make. The uniqueness that can be found by appreciating what time has developed, instead of trying to hide it or erase it. My goal is to not only find that beauty in my projects, but to find it in myself as well.