2008 - Volume #32, Issue #6, Page #07[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
They Straighten And Restore Old Barns
Mike Woodford is vice president of the company, started by his father and three uncles more than 40 years ago. "We jack and support the structure, take out the bad parts and laminate new material."
The New York-based company averages about 300 projects a year in New York and surrounding states, and they've traveled as far as northern Minnesota.
"We run the gamut, from replacing concrete blocks in a garage to taking a structure apart, moving it and making it into a home," Woodford says.
About half their work is agricultural buildings - many owners just want to get sagging buildings solid and square. Woodford Bros. has about 30 employees who work out of a couple of well-equipped trucks.
"The work we do is very specialized and requires lots of knowledge. It takes five to six years to train employees," Woodford says. "We're big on safety training and understanding how to use equipment for rigging and how to manipulate the structure."
In order to cover such a large territory, the company developed a few strategies. For example, employees working on a project more than 600 miles from home, work eight days, then are flown home for six days off. To do cost estimates of distant projects, the Woodford website includes a free ballpark figure estimator. Potential customers answer questions and take photos to submit to the company. If the customer is interested after receiving a ballpark bid, an on-site visit is made to determine a final cost. While projects vary greatly, Woodford says a typical project lasts five days, and averages $12,000.
"On every project we start with the worst thing that needs to be addressed," Woodford says. "Everything we do is to make the building stronger. We work from worst to best on list; we've never lost a structure or had a failure."
The company uses hydraulic lifting, tension rod, and pneumatic lifting systems to do the following: foundation straightening, replacement and lifting; structural moving and cabling; floor and roof leveling; and beam repairs and replacement.
Every project has unique challenges, but Woodford says it's rewarding to save old buildings. He's noticed that people in Wisconsin and Minnesota tend to be more inclined to salvage old barns.
Besides using laminates and modern materials, about 5 percent of Woodford Bros.' work involves using original material and methods, such as taking solid beams and making them hand-hewn. One favorite project was taking an old barn that was on the National Register of Historic Places, moving it 50 ft. to a new foundation and remodeling it into a well-used recreation hall.
Woodford notes that the demand for barn restoration is diminishing, but it's a worthwhile niche in the construction industry, and the company is willing to expand to more states.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Woodford Bros., Inc., P.O. Box 108, Apulia Station, N.Y. 13020 (ph 800 653-2276; www.woodfordbros.com).
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