The 15-Second Elevator Pitch
We're a couple of mid-lifers trying to do something grand before the old folks home claims us. We bought the historic Globe Elevator and started reclaiming its old-growth wood. But we ran into a recession and fell behind in our loan payments. We need to raise $56,000 to stay afloat long enough to find a new owner. Otherwise, the bank will foreclose and a vast amount of beautiful antique wood will go up in smoke - perhaps literally. In return for your contribution, we're offering a small piece of history and the satisfaction of knowing you are helping the planet by reducing greenhouse gases.
How We Got Here
The Globe Elevator, on the edge of Lake Superior, was the biggest grain storage facility in the world when it was completed in 1887. Its three mammoth buildings contained over 6 million board feet of old-growth Eastern White Pine from the area’s virgin forests. The elevator was closed in 1988 and our little company, Wisconsin Woodchuck, began deconstructing it in 2006.
Woodchuck is the offspring of David Hozza, a one-time city planner from St. Paul, and Judy Peres, a retired newspaper reporter from Chicago. They put their life savings into the quixotic project and persuaded friends and family to invest too. Unfortunately, a monster recession intervened, drastically slowing demand for specialty reclaimed wood.
The company’s mortgage lender is now threatening to foreclose, and it’s not likely the bank – or whoever buys the 8-acre property at the sheriff’s sale – is going to care about the lumber, given the difficulty of taking it down. Dave and Judy are trying desperately to save the wood before it gets blown up, chipped up, land-filled, or incinerated. It’s probably too late to save the company or recoup any of our investment. But we still have more than 5 million board feet – the equivalent of about 20,000 trees – of irreplaceable old-growth white pine. We need to get this incredible resource into the hands of someone who can continue the task we started, and that could take more time than we have left.
What We Need & What You Get
It takes approximately $9,000 a month to keep the bank at bay. So if we can raise $56,000, we can buy six months. More would be better, but any amount would be valuable.
The money will not be used for regular operating expenses or salaries. It will cover loan payments ($37,830), taxes ($3,250), insurance ($9,306), attorneys’ fees ($3,000), and a publicity campaign ($2,600) to find a buyer who will carry on our mission to save the wood. We’re already getting some important help in that regard: The hit TV series Ax Men is telling our story. You can watch it at 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. Central) Sundays on the HISTORY Channel.
Everyone who contributes to this campaign will get a piece of the historic Globe Elevator as well as a big wet one from Dave and Judy. If you dig deep, you could get a fine-art print of a photograph or video still taken during the deconstruction project, or the hard hat worn by one of the crew during the filiming of Ax Men. If you dig really deep, you could get a ride in the crane basket and lunch with Mike, our cantankerous construction manager, in beautiful downtown Superior.
You don’t have to be a tree hugger to appreciate the value of preserving a rare resource. Old-growth Eastern White Pine is virtually extinct: The great stands that once covered much of the northeastern United States are gone, and the only way to get it is to reclaim it from an existing structure. The Globe Elevator is the biggest known source of this wood. Simply put, not using it would be a big, fat waste. It’s like your mother said: Eat your dinner, because children somewhere are starving. You’ll feel bad if you waste it. And you won’t get a second chance.
Re-using this wood is good for the end user because it’s beautiful and durable and distinctive and has a great story to tell. But it’s also good for the planet because it reduces harmful greenhouse gases.
Trees remove carbon from the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, and harvested wood continues to store that carbon. If the wood is burned, or left to decay in a landfill, the carbon is released into the atmosphere. What’s more, green trees will be cut down and processed to replace what’s lost – or builders will use alternative materials with a much bigger carbon footprint. Do you want that on your conscience?
Other Ways You Can Help
If you can’t contribute, that’s OK. You can support the project in other ways:
- Tell your friends about the campaign to Save the Globe by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media
- Share our video on YouTube
- Watch us in Ax Men on HISTORY and let the producers of the show know you think what Wisconsin Woodchuck is doing is important
- Spread the word about how reclaiming lumber helps the planet
- Visit our Web site, sign up for our newsletter and our blog, and tell your friends to do the same
- Use the “SHARE” tools on the Indiegogo site
President of Wisconsin Woodchuck