A couple of weeks ago I was back in Harlingen, Texas, working with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) to train workers in deconstruction. As you may recall, my October 2011 post described this particular training program and the subsequent deconstruction and building-materials reuse at TSTC.
This year TRP is taking its popular Reuse Contest national. All company and affiliate warehouses throughout the country have been invited to participate. More than a dozen have already said they will. I will announce the names and locations of participating retail outlets in next month's e-letter.
I want to start the new year by thanking all the donors who helped TRP return thousands of tons of reusable building materials to the marketplace in 2011, keeping them out of overburdened landfills. I also want to thank the numerous TRP employees who made it a successful year. Many businesses (especially nonprofits) were not so fortunate.
The year unfolded somewhat differently than the one we envisioned and budgeted. That was probably true for most organizations in our business. What made the difference were the wild swings in deconstruction activity. The year started well, both for our crews and for TRP-certified contractors. However, by June, while our contractors continued to prosper, TRP's own crews had become idle. (I wanted to blame it on the Greeks, but was unable to connect the dots across thousands of miles and a lot of water.)
Congratulations to Chris and Melanie Warden for capturing the top prize in this year's reuse contest.
The goal of the TRP-sponsored contest, now in its fourth year, is to publicly demonstrate what can be done with salvaged building materials, while applauding some of the creative people who actually make reuse happen. As in past years, this year's entries revealed eye-popping skill and aesthetic sensibility. It's always fun to look at the before-and-after photos, and it's always a challenge to rank them.
It's a sure bet that most businesses in our industry would jump at the chance to lower insurance costs, employee turnover and training demands, while at the same time improving their image and reputation. Well, as an 18-year veteran of the deconstruction industry, a licensed demolition contractor in California and a former general contractor, I've learned that improving safety is one of the surest ways to accomplish all of those aspirations.
This month I'm announcing the opening of two new partner retail-warehouses, one in Durham, North Carolina, and the other in West Haven, Connecticut. Both of these establishments have relationships with TRP that allow them to provide tax-deductible donation receipts for materials dropped off at their stores. In addition, both are eager to help homeowners, architects and contractors connect with local TRP-certified deconstruction contractors who can provide full-service deconstruction (as an alternative to demolition) on building-removal and remodeling projects.
It never fails. When a new business model is developed based on an older, established model, two things happen. First, older, entrenched businesses attempt to discredit, and in some cases demonize, the new model. Second, unscrupulous faux organizations spring up to make a quick buck off unsuspecting customers, even if it means flaunting the law.
TRP recently participated in a well conceived government program in Kansas City, MO, designed to relieve blight and recover reusable materials from abandoned homes. While this deconstruction program will continue for 18 more months, the people involved in its creation and successful kickoff deserve early recognition.
In 2008, the Internal Revenue Service recognized "Deconstruction" as a discrete program. This allowed its offices to begin auditing nonprofit organizations that accept tax-deductible donations of materials salvaged from deconstruction operations. The ReUse People is one of the most prominent organizations in the industry, so it was no surprise when TRP received an audit letter in January 2009.
I started the month of May in Sacramento, working with TRP Area Manager Kristin Williams and Larry Liedelmeyer of the Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps (SRCC), a YouthBuild affiliate. Larry and the SRCC have become certified TRP trainers, and recent graduates of Larry's deconstruction training classes are using their skills to soft-strip dozens of houses at Beale Air Force Base.