Written by James Ruig
My love of all thing old and architectural began when I was a kid. My grandfather bought a few hundred acres in the Redlands Old Australia and moved his family of eight children there. They lived in a large tent while he slowly built a house by hand from materials he salvaged locally and from the wood milled off the his land. As a kid I would love to play in his workshop, it was a barn built from hand hewn timbers and had all the classic hand tools of that era. They had an old sawmill he used to mill timber found on the land.
The house was amazing and I remember every part of it as having soul. Built by my grandfather’s hands for his family, it was the war years and times were tough but sometimes adversity provides some amazing results thru necessity.
As I grew up I tried my hand at everything. I met my wife at the age of 23 married her at 26. We bought our first home an old cottage in Brisbane that needed a lot of work, this was the start of my career as a renovation specialist.
I had found my passion and never looked back.
I would over the course of time come to buy, renovate and sell over 25 houses and buildings, utilizing architectural elements and collecting even more original pieces and renovation materials from salvage yards.
Having done well for myself by the time I was 30 I started to look for other opportunities, eventually investing in a consultancy business called Site Safe it was a cutting edge safety consultancy business but it wasn’t me I didn’t enjoy the business. However we had demolition companies as clients and I was more fascinated with that than my own business. I decided to move back into a business that I loved.
I open a recycled materials yard to service the emerging market of young professionals buying and doing up old colonial houses in Brisbane. I called this place the BIG RED SHED it was well located and we created the first urban cool place to buy all renovating materials. The business was well received and prospered.
My big chance came when I was offered the opportunity to salvage a large wharfing system in Brisbane known locally as Brett’s Wharf; an iconic structure that was being demolished to make way for river front developments. I thought back to my days on the farm with my Grandfather, it would be such a sad waste to see the massive old beams of Iron bark and Spotted gum locally grow wood being pit burned. No one could see any use for such massive beams with large rusty steel bolts thru them.
I knew, I had to have that wood, I quickly liquidated everything I had including my business and used all the proceeds to pay for the freight and storage. It was 10,000 tones of wood – The largest stock pile of recycled wood anywhere in the world at that time. This was a massive gamble for me financially. I was considered the entrepreneur of recycling at the time and it was a new concept… I continued to pioneer milling techniques and create products and markets for the wood. Others soon realized my vision and competition slowly grew.
It was an exciting time for me, I had remained true to my vision and showed people how reclaiming the past and using it for the future was done.
I realized if I wanted to continue to salvage wood I had to find another source, the local product was fast becoming scarce. I thought about this and realised that Europe has a massive untapped market for Reclaimed building material. It was in 2005 that I started experimenting with the local Reclaimed European products and discovered a whole new concept, 1st in the Australian market, this was my new niche product.
I missed being in business and the hunt for unusual treasures drove me to create another business. I called this, The Salvage Company, I started selling recycled wood products from Europe, but it was a trip to Argentina in 2002 that gave me the opportunity to buy a container of old doors iron works and other elements to supplement my wood business that really fired me up. I was excited about the idea of global salvage. I grew The Salvage Company Australia to three emporiums and successfully sold this business in 2013.
During the course of business’ I have created many amazing multi-million dollar projects both in Australia & New Zealand. I also have very happy clients in Hong Kong and further abroad.
After many buying trips around the world I now base myself in London. I want to be close to the European resources and have the ability to explore all areas of Europe to treasure hunt for more amazing elements. I now have extensive range of wood and architectural elements that I can offer wholesale. I have moved my showroom to the 19th century stables at the Royal Berkshire Polo Club. My primary focus is to offer the best products and prices wholesale to Asia, UK, Australia and USA. I give personalized hands on service and I ensure I find the best products for the best prices, individually inspected while handling all logistics to deliver them to clients worldwide. I offer expertise in design and manufacture of furniture, joinery and flooring to all my clients.