Deconstructing wood structures for material can be a tricky task, what with all the nails that need to be removed. But this job, reclaiming bleachers from North Dakota State University's Bison Sports Arena in Fargo, N.D., where students had sat and stomped for decades, was sticky. “You wouldn’t believe how much gum was on those bleacher boards,” says Seth Carlson, owner of reclaimed materials supplier ICSS Supply Company in Fargo. Clearly, Carlson doesn’t mind toiling to preserve great material. He says his objective at ICSS is to reduce wood consumption, deforestation and landfill waste, so he’ll grab whatever salvaged material comes his way. Carlson expected to sell portions of the bleacher-reclaimed wood to a buyer in Oregon, but a local developer inquired about using the wood for flooring in a restored downtown building. That was perfect—Carlson is a firm believer in keeping things local. The buyer wanted the wood, a mix of Southern yellow pine and Douglas fir, to retain its sports-fan-worn patina, so ICSS didn’t plane it down. The flooring went inside a building that dates to 1900. The tenants, including some NDSU alumni, have remarked in the local press how cool it is to look down and see the bleacher numbers on the floor. For Carlson, he’s just excited he was able to lend a sustainable hand. “Buying new lumber always made me cringe a little bit,” he says. “I have an emotional connection to the trees.”

Andrew Averill is the former associate editor at Wood Floor Business. A graduate of journalism at the University of Wisconsin, he had internships at newspapers across the country—San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, The Flint Journal—before a bad case of rug burn turned him into an advocate for floors of a harder disposition.