MISHAWAKA, Ind. — Sometimes, one person’s trash really is another’s treasure.

That’s certainly the case at Rudy’s Barn Wood, a business a few miles south of Mishawaka that stores wood, windows, hinges and other materials recycled from area barns, sometimes ones that are hundreds of years old.

“Rudy” is Kris Verash, a Grissom Middle School social studies teacher who during the summers and in his spare time, painstakingly disassembles barns and sells the pieces to customers who give them new life.

Verash named the business to commemorate his late mother who called him Rudy.

He got started in the barn-disassembling business by happenstance while looking for rocks to use for landscaping. A local farmer offered to let him have some for free if he’d be willing to pluck them from a farm field.

“So I helped him clean out his field and then he told me that he had three barns that he wanted taken down,” Verash said.

Most of the people who approach Verash with such requests want to stop paying taxes for their unused, sometimes unusable, barns and instead grow crops on the land.

Usually there is no transfer of money; he puts in the hours and gets to keep the materials.

Tearing down one barn usually takes about two weeks. Three, if it’s large, Verash said.

To him, there is something special about old barn wood, and there’s a relief in saving it from being burned.

Verash grew up on a small farm himself and has fond memories of having friends over and playing basketball in the loft of his family’s milking barn.

“The idea that I get to share that hundred-year-old barn wood with other people…even this room,” he said, sitting in his own ‘man cave.’ “I decorated this room with old barn wood. I’ve always loved it, I’ve always loved the look of it.”

He also appreciates the quality and age of old wood from barns.

“…A lot of that wood was grown locally, and some of those trees were two to 300 years old to begin with,” he said. “It’s a high-quality dense wood.”

One of Verash’s repeat customers, Cindy Hestad, shops at Rudy’s because she shares his passion and appreciation for the history behind the wood.

Hestad has bought a barn door, wooden planks for bathroom decorations, and beams that were so thick that when she asked to have them cut, Verash had to get help from an Amish saw mill to find a large enough blade.

“It’s amazing the number of different ideas that they come across,” Verash said of his customers. “A lot of people put this inside their homes or their man caves or they build bars with them, use them in their bathrooms or kitchens.”

Source: South Bend Tribune

Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

This is an Indiana Exchange story shared by the South Bend Tribune.

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