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Reclaiming the past: Local businessman making living selling salvaged material for new construction

 

This Dispatch file photo from February, shows a Habitat for Humanity project to extract old timbers from a house being demolished on Seventh Street South in Columbus for resale. Local business Mississippi Reclaimed, a resale shop for salvaged building materials, purchased some of the project's materials from Habitat.

This Dispatch file photo from February, shows a Habitat for Humanity project to extract old timbers from a house being demolished on Seventh Street South in Columbus for resale. Local business Mississippi Reclaimed, a resale shop for salvaged building materials, purchased some of the project's materials from Habitat. Photo by: Dispatch file photo

 

Jacob Pannell

Jacob Pannell

 

 

Slim Smith

 

 

If you are looking for reclaimed building materials, Jacob Pannell figures he probably has what you're looking for. 

 

If only he can find it, that is. 

 

"I've got stuff spread around all over the place," said Pannell, a Columbus native who has built a business selling reclaimed building material. The use of timbers, hardwood flooring and bricks from old homes, buildings -- even barns -- has been one of the hottest trends in home construction and remodeling. 

 

For the past three years, Pannell, 35, has found a niche in that market, selling materials to furniture makers and bricks to customers who are using them for home remodeling and expansion projects. He operates his business -- Mississippi Reclaimed -- through his website, mississippireclaimed.com. 

 

Within the next year, Pannell expects to take the next big step for his one-man operation by moving his far-flung inventory into a 5,000-square foot warehouse and showroom on Wilkins-Wise Road. 

 

Pannell has building permits in-hand but said he is still adjusting his plans. 

 

"It's hard to say exactly when I'll be in the building," he said. "... But I feel like I should be in the building within a year or so." 

 

The popularity of using materials salvaged from old buildings continues to grow. Customers are drawn to the high quality of the hand-crafted materials, some of which are no longer available on the commercial market. Timbers from homes and building built a century ago often came from "old growth" trees, some as old as 300 years. 

 

Kathy Arinder, director of the Columbus-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity, got a taste of that popularity earlier this year. 

 

Ellis Robinson of Louisiana donated to Habitat a large home on Seventh Street South built in the 1880s. 

 

Arinder and the Habitat board of directors decided to salvage materials from the 3,200 square-foot home and resell them at its store on Gardner Avenue. 

 

The salvage operation began in January and took about three months. 

 

"We didn't really keep an inventory of what we took from the house but it was a lot," Arinder said. "We had to store most of it in a warehouse because we didn't have room at the store. We'd bring the materials over from the warehouse as space became available." 

 

Arinder said the store had sold the last of the material earlier this month. 

 

"I knew this stuff would be popular," she said. "But I had no idea how popular it really was. It just flew out of our store." 

 

The purchasers included Pannell. 

 

"I bought quite a lot of their stuff," he said. 

 

Pannell got the idea of starting Mississippi Reclaimed a little more than three years ago. At the time, he was working at Columbus Brick. 

 

"My mom had an old brick building that was falling apart," Pannell said. "I knew that the bricks could be resold. So I tore the building down, salvaged what I could. That's how it started." 

 

Pannell said the key to his business is acquiring the materials. 

 

"Really, finding old material really isn't hard around here," he said. "The biggest expense is transporting the materials. At first I used to do the demolition and haul everything away myself. But now, I'm strictly purchasing and selling the materials."

 

Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is ssmith@cdispatch.com.

 

 

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