Finding new life in old structures
Larry Hutson is a lot like his father, Llewellyn, a Sparta-area farm boy who grew up during the Great Depression. The elder Hutson's philosophy, developed during that time of austerity, was waste nothing.
He would salvage old, uneeded buildings on the Big Creek farm, and have Larry, a 1974 Sparta High School graduate, and his siblings de-nail the lumber and straighten the nails, which they sorted and put in coffee cans.
That attitude rubbed off on Larry, who took it to a whole new level, creating a business with the waste-nothing philosophy at its core.
The business is Used Anew, which Larry and his wife, LuAnn, a transplant from southern Wisconsin, have been operating in rural Sparta since 2013. It began when Larry took down an old granary and used the material in a vacation rental apartment he built off his home. The apartment got rave reviews.
The "deconstruction" business blossomed from there. They took down old barns and outbuildings, salvaged the material and initially, sold it wholesale. They then developed a retail market using Craig's List.
Today, the business has evolved, producing value-added products out of the raw salvaged material. Local craftsmen transform the lumber into flooring, accent walls, furniture, cabinets, craft and decor items and just about anything the Hutsons and their customers can dream up.
"We're always thinking 'we've got this material or we've got access to the this material, let's not throw it away, let's figure out what we can make out of it and make something that someone will want,'" said Larry.
Used Anew just had a grand opening for its showroom, located at 4975 Garden Ave. just of Cty. Hwy. BC south of Sparta.
The main purpose of the showroom is to display the value-added material the business is capable of supplying. But it's more than that.
"It's an idea starter as much as anything," said Larry.
Customers can see the materials used in different applications and use them as inspiration for their own tastes and design ideas. Used Anew can produce exactly what the customer wants.
That's their business' niche, according to the Hutsons -- user-friendly, reclaimed materials that are cleaned and milled to accommodate whatever application the customer desires.
"People like the look but there's a lot of work to get it to look nice," said Larry. "We take a lot of the work out of it. When they pick it up, it's a much more ready-to-use product."
Just ask Dave Nelson, owner of Nelson Tree House Services, whose show, Tree House Masters aired on Animal Planet for 13 seasons. Used Anew supplied the material for an episode of the show filmed in Trempealeau and the business was featured in the episode.
Since then, Used Anew has remained one of Nelson's suppliers.
It's hard to pigeon hole exactly what Used Anew's style is because the customer's imagination makes it limitless, but some of the descriptors Larry and LuAnn use are rustic, cottage chic and industrial.
And while the motif possibilities are enticing to their customers, the other appeal is the fact that they're using reclaimed material. "In that respect we're doing something earth friendly," Larry said.
Larry is sure that the deconstruction and reclaimed material business is here to stay and he and LuAnn are enjoying being part of it.
"This has been more fun for both of us than any job we've ever had," said Larry. "It's a feel-good business because we are being good to the environment and we aren't wasting things. We're saving material but we're also working with a lot of creative people who respect and appreciate that."
Used Anew's telephone number is (608) 487-0547. It's website is www.UsedAnew.com.