Chris Behm entered a contest in early 2012 that led him to launch a business and changed his life.
Behm won the Detroit Renailed competition, which challenged participants to make a consumer good out of materials reclaimed from blighted buildings in the Motor City. The $500 prize provided the seed funding for Behm and his friend Sam Constantine to start End Grain Woodworking Co
"We bought some more wood and some tools," Behm says. "People seemed to like what we were doing."
End Grain Woodworking Co. makes a variety of different products from reclaimed wood, including picture frames, tables, lamps, and chess sets. They can be purchased over the Internet and at independent arts retailers across the region like Pewabic Pottery. One of End Grain Woodworking Co.'s latest ventures is making beer tap handles for Atwater Brewery from reclaimed materials.
Demand for these products has spiked over the last year, so much so that Behm and Constantine quit their day jobs and moved into their own maker space to do this full-time. They are looking to make their first hire this fall to make sure production keeps up with demand.
Behm and Constantine know they aren't alone in this industry, but they aren't intimidated by the growing number of businesses turning reclaimed wood into consumer products in Detroit.
"We welcome it because it finds uses for the wood," Behm says. "We don't want it to end up in a landfill."
Souce: Chris Behm, co-owner of End Grain Woodworking Co
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.