Rod Long and his son Cody were familiar with shiplap and barn beams long before HGTV Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines made the wood finish a national buzz word in the housing industry.
The father and son-run Tuscarora Wood Midwest business opened in 2006 when Rod sold out of his custom home building partnership to kick-off the reclaimed and salvaged wood business located outside of Covington.
“Dad worked in construction and so I grew up helping him,” Cody said.
“He was always creating something in the wood shop even as a little kid,” Rod said. “He was always cobbling up something and he’s talented in woodworking — I’m amazed at what he comes up with.”
Cody said the majority of the company’s product is shipped out to the West Coast from Colorado to California. Cody explained that west of the Mississippi River is mainly soft wood, with the majority of hard wood for building projects sourced in the Midwest.
The Tuscarora Wood Midwest company only uses reclaimed barn wood and resourced ash trees devastated by the emerald ash borer.
“There’s a big demand for the sustainable and eco-friendly product on the West Coast, so the idea of the ash borer is enticing for people out there. We aren’t killing or taking down trees so we get a lot of clients that are interested just in the fact we are reusing that wood,” Cody said.
Cody explained that the ash borer kills the layer just under the bark, leaving the rest of the wood clean and intact.
“(The emerald ash borer) doesn’t actually go into the log much at all, so the log itself is actually fine as long as it isn’t standing too long,” Cody said. “If it’s caught early enough, it’s perfectly good wood inside it.”
The Longs have seen an increasing demand for sustainable hard woods for building projects likely due to the eco-friendly movement.
“Our selling point is that we aren’t killing live trees. The ash isn’t considered reclaimed, but it is considered salvaged and sustainable product,” Cody said.
Cody explained the company will go on site to salvage old barns, homes and factories so they don’t end up in land fills, buried or burned on the sites.
One of their first projects was on Landman Mill Road with an old three-story flour grist mill which had collapsed.
“The owners on the property contacted us to clean up the mess. It was full of beautiful timber and machinery so that was our first big project,” Cody shared.
The Longs field many calls from the area in regards to taking down old barns, homes and other structures for them to save the products.
The Long’s mill produces a variety of wood products and custom pieces which are truly unique in their industry. The company also uses eco-friendly stains and finishes such as sunflower seed oils and other environmentally friendly products. The company said the eco-friendly finishes come from Europe, which they report are years ahead of Americans in terms of chemical free finishes.
“The eco-friendly finishes are what people are looking for these days in their homes,” Cody said.
The company recently shipped more than 8,000 square feet of reclaimed lumber to Los Angeles and 3,000 square feet of ash flooring to Breckenridge, Colorado. The Long’s work with Piqua’s Dave Lillicrap as a logger who processes ash trees. The company kiln dries and mills the trees on top of the dozens of skid loads of old barn wood.
Walking past the stacks of old barn boards and hand-hewn beams, Cody shared one labor intensive part of the business that isn’t particularly enjoyable in their business.
“Pulling nails is the worst,” he said, as his dad laughed. “Sometimes the old square nails break off and you have to dig in their and get them out.”
Cody said the company uses hand-held metal detectors to ensure they’ve found the majority of old nails and even bullets and buckshot embedded in the old wooden beams and timber.
“We have to do it all by hand before it goes into our machines, which can explain why some of our products may be more expensive than fresh timber. It’s a lot of work,” Cody said.
The company, which employs seven, custom mills wood flooring, beam work for exterior aesthetics and interior accents like fire places and ceiling designs. The company also specializes in custom pieces such as the wood counter top for a kitchen island for a home in the area Cody had been working for a few days. Rod Long said sliding barn doors for homes has also been one of their top sellers.
Tuscarora Wood Midwest is located at 6506 State Route 36, Covington and has a show room with its variety of wood options. For more information, visit www.tuscarorawoodmidwest.com.
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