Judy Peres has the kind of life and story worth hearing about and the producers for History Channel’s Ax Men knew it.
Judy was a reporter and then editor for The Chicago Tribune for 28 years. Instead of going gently into that good retirement the then 61-year-old moved with her partner, David Hozza, to Wisconsin in hopes of building a marina on the shores of Lake Superior. There was just one little problem that the Yale grad and her investment banker partner parlayed into one large commitment…
This problem came in the form of 3 massive old grain elevators on the proposed property that had to be taken down before anybody would invest in the idea. When Hozza inspected the over 100-year-old elevators, he found a potential windfall inside the metal frames. From the great piece by Chicago Mag:
Hidden within the outer layer of corrugated sheet metal were roughly six million board feet of prized virgin white pine, protected from the elements since 1887. It was an entire forest—the kind that no longer exists in the United States. In other words, these eyesores contained a virtually endless supply of the type of gorgeous antique wood for which people building a rustic cabin would pay upward of $4 per board foot. After guessing it would take a year to salvage the wood from one elevator and sell it wholesale, Peres and Hozza paid $1.2 million for the elevators and the land.
At this point Peres and Hozza were off and running in their new career as wood reclamation specialists.
The year estimate was way off and they’re still in the arduous process of removing the valuable wood from the massive grain elevators. At this point they’re all in and there’s no looking back. They have formed the company Old Globe Reclaimed Wood and in the about us section they explain their company’s goal further:
Many grain elevators were lost to fires during their operation. Of those that survived, many have been demolished or burned to enable redevelopment. We rescue antique granary timbers, dimension lumber, and architectural pieces and give them new life.
While we are proud to contribute to the conservation of our planet’s natural resources, we also love the richness and character of old-growth wood. Since the virgin forests that produced this wood are virtually extinct, the only way to enjoy its warmth and beauty is through re-use.
Our current project is the deconstruction of the 1887 Globe Elevator, once the biggest grain storage facility in the world. It contains some 6 million board feet of wood (mostly Eastern White Pine), as well as hundreds of tons of Real Wrought Iron and other antique hardware.
Here is a brief video featuring Judy in which she explains what it means to have a “beautiful mind.”
Judy and David’s find and dedication to their huge risk should result in compelling TV. I know I’ll be tuned in.