Fargo business transforms unwanted wood into new decor

FARGO — There is a new manufacturer in Fargo, and its success is coming from reclaiming old, abandoned grain elevators and warehouses around our region.


Those buildings can be found in sleepy, quiet towns. But instead of demolishing the elevators and hauling the wood to the landfill, Dakota Timber has found a home for it: Your house.


Inside the new Dakota Timber plant, there is the smell of sawdust and pine, but not from freshly cut trees.


These hefty timbers come straight from lonely grain elevators that dot our prairies.


"Every piece is unique," said Jack Hodorff of Dakota Timber. "It's one of those things that no matter how hard you try to duplicate it, you really can't."


Thursday, Jack Hodorff and his co-workers at Dakota Timber turned beams into flooring, paneling and mantels for homes across the region.


This is Seth Carlson's dream company. He changed the name to Dakota Timber from its original, ICSS, for obvious reasons.


Now, a new home and more equipment is helping fulfill a goal of repurposing rather than throwing away.

"The main reason I love being in reclaimed wood manufacturing is that I can put out a huge volume of product into our community, and being able to give people a sustainable alternative when they are building or remodeling their homes," said Carlson.


Home builder companies in town checked out Dakota Timber's new home at an open house Thursday, seeing that you can hang on to the past by taking the wood our first settlers used to build this region and make it in the place you now live in.


By summer, Dakota Timber is expected to have 12 to 15 people working there.

Tired of ISIS jokes, lumber salvage company changes names

FARGO—ICSS Supply Co. was an "inside joke" that Seth Carlson thought up when he needed a name for his new salvaged lumber company in 2012.

It's also been the source of many jokes lately, and Carlson is ready for his business to move on by changing the name to Dakota Timber Co.


"I can tell you the No. 1 reason was because we were sick of people calling us ISIS," he said, referring to the Islamic State militant organization.

Last month was also a good time to make a change, the company's president of operations said, after the company streamlined its business model to make it more clear what it does.The original name stood for Ingvald's Conservation and Sustainable Sourcing, a play on his former Duluth business while in college, Ingvald's Custom Builds. He already changed the legal name from ICSS Design and Supply to ICSS Supply Co. because the original name made customers think the business designed and built furniture, which it doesn't do.

Instead, he said Dakota Timber Co. can be thought of as a modern-day, full-production sawmill that processes salvaged lumber into new building materials, such as flooring, paneling, trimwork and beams. After getting a start in Fargo, the company moved about two years ago to Moorhead, where it now has a finish department at 2419 12th Ave. S. and a main facility at 1325 23rd St. S.


Carlson said Dakota Timber Co. is now preparing to move into a newly renovated space at 3202 7th Ave. N. in Fargo, a move that will be completed in time for a March 2 grand opening event.

It gives the company a chance to get new machinery, set up properly in a much larger space and increase its output, he said.

Reclaimed lumber business plans to sell old Fargo Coliseum bleachers

FARGO—A north Fargo hockey arena's renovation means the old wood bleachers will be replaced, but locals will have a couple of options to get their hands on these historic seats.

Fargo-based reclaimed lumber business Dakota Timber Co. has purchased all of the vintage bleachers from the historic John E. Carlson Coliseum, which opened in 1968.


The company, which contracted with another company to remove the bleachers, will manufacture the majority of the wood into tongue-and-groove paneling and about 10,000 square feet of flooring, said Seth Carlson, president of operations.

He said they'll reserve about 1,000 square feet of the bleachers to sell a limited batch of numbered seat boards to local hockey fans and enthusiasts. Dakota Timber Co. will hold two sales for these boards at its north Fargo facility, 3202 7th Ave. N., from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, March 24, and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 25.

Carlson said he's already taken several calls from parents and fans who want to purchase the boards for memorabilia or to make something out of the reclaimed lumber, such as shelves or benches.

The Fargo Park Board last December approved a $2.5 million renovation of the Coliseum that's now underway, with project plans that include a new ice plant, new boards and glass, new bleachers, revamped lighting and renovations to restrooms and locker rooms.

Dakota Timber Co. gets ready to grow in new Fargo shop, showroom

FARGO—A local salvaged lumber company has a new name, but that's not the only thing that's changing with its recent move to a new shop, showroom and sawmill in north Fargo.

Dakota Timber Co. recently started operating out of a new facility at 3202 7th Ave. N. A grand opening party is set for Thursday, March 2, that includes a sale from noon to 5 p.m., and free drinks and live music by The Cropdusters from 5 to 8 p.m.


The business originally went by ICSS Supply Co. when it started in 2012, but recently adopted its new name as it prepared to move to the larger Fargo facility from its previous sites in Moorhead.

Along the way, President of Operations Seth Carlson said the move also gave his company a chance to get new machinery and set up properly in a building that has room for a full finish department, showroom and the community's only full-service sawmill.


Seth Carlson describes his product at Dakota Timber Co. in north Fargo.

"We got all new equipment, so we're increasing efficiency quite a bit," he said.

At first, Carlson said his business simply aimed to salvage lumber from old buildings and grain elevators. While he did a small amount of machining himself, he mostly tried to sell the lumber as-is to others.

He said Dakota Timber Co. is now a full-fledged manufacturer that processes, cuts and finishes about 10,000 square feet of trim, flooring, paneling and other building materials each week.

Making a move

Built in 1969, the 11,280-square-foot structure that Dakota Timber Co. now leases was renovated and fit up after the owners of Magnum Trucking recently purchased it.

Carlson said he wanted to retain the "warehouse" feel, especially in the showroom that displays mantels, paneling and flooring options, so he repurposed the old warehouse lights for showroom lighting and kept the old concrete floors.

But most of the building is now a manufacturing center, with one part separated as a finish department that also has a new buy-by-the-board section and the other half housing equipment and workers who process reclaimed lumber.

Their work results in trim, window jambs, flooring, paneling, stair treads, mantels and other building materials that end up in businesses, apartments and homes across the region, primarily in North Dakota and western Minnesota.


Matt Johnson works in the finishing department at Dakota Timber Co. in north Fargo.

Carlson said he and his staff of about a dozen can turn reclaimed lumber into just about any building material. While customers at first sought old boards to make rustic, rough floors and accent walls, he said people are increasingly looking for an alternative to buying new while still being able to achieve any modern or classic look.

"I think customers are realizing it's actually a practical solution for interior millwork or exterior, and we do exterior siding and stuff, too," he said. "It's actually becoming a legitimate branch of the specialty millwork industry."

Carlson has helped reclaimed wood grow as a design trend in the community in recent years, and he said he still enjoys his work because he has a chance to make a difference in the wood industry.

"To have an actual, quantifiable impact where we're actually reducing demand for new lumber, that's always been my No. 1 goal," he said



Business profile

What: Dakota Timber Co.

Where: 3202 7th Ave. N., Fargo

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Phone: (701) 361-8827

Online: www.facebook.com/dakotatimberco/

WDAY News Feature: ICSS Supply Co. Partners With AENDEE - Launches "Little Scrappy Tree Co."

Moorhead (WDAY TV) - Putting up a Christmas Tree can be a joyful, painful, delightful family time. The cure for the trauma of trimming the tree: A Little Scrappy Tree. One couple's crazy idea is now a reality.

In a south Moorhead shop, Ashley Dedin and Seth Carlson have their own Santa's Little Workshop. Two elves cutting and drilling old, recycled and now re-purposed wood.

"And then it is just a matter of working your way up in layers," Dedin said.

A few pieces of layered wood, a steel rod and wooden base and you have what has become this area's newest holiday business: A Little Scrappy Tree.

"You could make these out of wood, but the fact they are made out of wood that had a different life as something else and being turned into a tree again," Dedin said.

You can buy the tree raw, bring it home and decorate it or buy already lighted with garland made out of flannel shirts.

From small to custom made tall little scrappy trees. From $25 to $95. Seth and Ashley each have their own creative businesses. Seth reclaimed wood, Ashley turns shirts into bowties, and they combined their talents to come up with this. 

"White pine, douglas fir, ponderosa pine and those are usually Christmas trees, and so it is kind of funny that the wood is going back and becoming a Christmas tree after it lived one or two lives," Carlson said.

A simple product made right here now being shipped to Christmas tree lovers around the world.

You can make your own Little Scrappy Tree on Thursday December 3rd at the south Moorhead warehouse.

Watch the WDAY interview here:  http://www.wday.com/news/3885839-fargo-moorhead-made-little-scrappy-tree-co-turns-wood-and-steel-christmas-miracle-your

Fargo Forum Feature: ICSS Supply Co. Relocates

By: Kris Bevill, Prairie Business Magazine

ICSS relocates, opens F-M's only full-service sawmill ICSS (Ingvald's Conservation & Sustainable Sourcing) Supply Co., a reclaimed wood company that opened in Fargo since 2012 has relocated to Moorhead, Minn., and expanded its services to include what is believed to be Fargo-Moorhead's only full-service sawmill and lumber kiln.  

ICSS (Ingvald's Conservation & Sustainable Sourcing) Supply Co., a reclaimed wood company that opened in Fargo since 2012 has relocated to Moorhead, Minn., and expanded its services to include what is believed to be Fargo-Moorhead's only full-service sawmill and lumber kiln. 

"As far as I know, nobody in Fargo does any lumber drying like we do," says Seth Carlson, founder and owner of the company.

ICSS opened in Fargo with the initial focus of buying and selling reclaimed wood, salvaged from grain elevators, barns and other historical sites, with the purpose of promoting sustainability and forest preservation. But Carlson says his business has since evolved to include the manufacturing of products from reclaimed wood, including flooring and paneling, so the business moved to a larger facility in Moorhead to accommodate its larger needs. 

The move also allowed ICSS to add its own sawmill and kiln drying services, which not only streamlines its own business by eliminating otherwise necessary weekly trips to sawmills and kiln drying service providers in Minnesota Lakes Country, it also allows ICSS to generate additional revenue by offering those services to customers in the Fargo area.

"We've always had a big demand for millwork production services," Carlson says. "We're just making it more efficient by bringing it into our own shop."

ICSS opened its new location on June 1. So far, it has only operated the sawmill and kiln at about 50 percent capacity while Carlson and his crew of three employees conduct final tweaks on the equipment, but he says business from home builders and contractors has already been strong, particularly for a new service - milling urban trees that have been logged either due to disease, damage or for hazard reasons. 

"A lot of home builders have clients who have trees that have been taken down and they are referring them to me," Carlson says, adding that many of the homeowners don't know immediately what they plan to use the milled wood for. "They just think it's awesome that they can save the tree and not have to send it to the landfill."

Carlson says he essentially created a market for reclaimed wood when he opened his business a few years ago and has since watched demand steadily increase. "It seemed like the demand was nonexistent," he says. "But once we got that spark going with the help of the community, it's definitely been a really consistent demand. I think it's really cool that a lot of the home builders are coming to us and utilizing our material. It's showing a lot of innovation and progressive thinking from North Dakota builders that we haven't really seen before."

Now, Carlson is focused on fostering demand for new construction and remodeling projects while educating the community that reclaimed wood doesn't have to look like old barn wood. "We can actually mill old lumber to look any way you want - it can be old-looking or it can be fresh and new," he says. "That's kind of the cool thing with us being able to offer all these services, we can now create 100 percent recycled product that isn't necessarily rustic. It really expands designers' options."

Prairie Business Magazine Feature: Making The Old New Again

ARCHITECTURE: Making the Old New Again Reclaimed wood proves to be design trend with staying power

By: KRIS BEVILL, Prairie Business Magazine

Seth Carlson didn’t set out to be a design trendsetter for the region. The Casselton, N.D., native had simply started a small reclaimed wood furniture company while he was still attending college in Duluth, Minn., which grew well beyond his expectations. He operated the business for a couple of years after school, but burned out and left it all behind to indulge in a second passion - cycling - thinking he had left his reclaimed wood experience in the past. 

After traveling the country for two years, he returned to Fargo, where he learned that the company he had purchased wood from for his furniture business had closed, and he had the opportunity to buy the remaining reclaimed wood product from the bank. It was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He soon found himself back in the reclaimed wood business, though he intended for the return to a be a temporary one. 

“I was just going to sell that [stock] and be done,” he says. 

The Fargo market had other ideas, however. Carlson says the reclaimed wood sold so quickly that he realized the potential demand might support a long-term supplier and in late 2013 he officially launched ICSS (Ingvald’s Conservation & Sustainable Sourcing) Supply Co., focusing on buying and selling reclaimed wood to homeowners, designers, architects and builders throughout the country. Since then he’s made some notable salvages, including bleachers, the gym floor and a recently uncovered modular basketball court floor from Fargo’s Bison Sports Arena, and has reclaimed wood from historical grain elevators, barns and schools throughout the region. Since launching his company, demand for reclaimed wood has steadily increased in the area - enough so that ICSS recently expanded to a larger space in Moorhead, Minn., and added a sawmill and kiln drying system to offer full service to its customers - thanks in no small part to Carlson’s passion for helping designers and builders embrace the possibilities of reclaimed wood. 

“[O]nce we got that spark going with the help of the community, it’s definitely been a really consistent demand,” he says. “I think it’s really cool that a lot of the home builders are coming to us and utilizing our material. It’s showing a lot of innovation and progressive thinking from North Dakota builders that we haven’t really seen before.”

Mike Dawson, project manager at Fargo-based Chris Hawley Architect & Co., says reclaimed wood is definitely trending among the firm’s clients, residential and commercial. “With our rural context, there are a lot of situations where barns or grain bins become obsolete and instead of just tearing them down and becoming waste, it’s been attractive for people to find a way to use that,” he says. “We’ve been lucky enough to have somebody like Seth [Carlson] bring a significant supply in order for us to use.”

Chris Hawley replatted the entire eastern face of its building with reclaimed wood about two years ago. Residential client uses have ranged from accent walls to great rooms and vaulted ceilings. In Minot, N.D., the firm recently designed a space for the Starving Rooster restaurant and nearly all of the materials used were salvaged from the building, which was originally built for the Aultman & Taylor Tractor Co. Reclaimed timber became tables in the bar, old flooring was used to make booths and overhead garage doors were repurposed as ceiling treatments, among other elements.

Dawson says clients ranging from millenials to baby boomers are showing interest in incorporating salvaged products into their design, for a combination of reasons. “It’s a little bit of trying to help the environment and also to do something that looks cool,” he says.

For commercial clients, reclaimed products can sometimes provide the double-benefit of showing environmental awareness and connecting with customers. When United Savings Credit Union worked with R.L. Engebretson to design its new Fargo location, the credit union expressed a desire for the building’s interior features to relay back to its mostly blue-collar member owners, says Kim Manuel, principal and director of interiors at R.L. Engebretson. The firm incorporated metal beams, stone reclaimed wood, including redwood ICSS had salvaged from Minnesota State University Moorhead’s quad, into the design. 

Manuel says reclaimed products are definitely growing in popularity and she believes it is a trend with lasting power. “I would say everybody would like to use reclaimed products and be environmentally friendly,” she says. “I think people want to be greener.”

Cost can be a prohibiting factor in incorporating sustainable products into design, but Manuel says some sustainable materials have become more affordable in recent years and, as with any product, many price points are available. She readily admits that having a resource such as ICSS is a significant benefit to designers in the Fargo area and helps them in the search for interesting wood products. “I think [Seth] has done a great job in the community in continuing to seek out products that can be used,” she says.

Brad Ciaveralla, founder and principal at Mitchell, S.D.-based Ciavarella Design Architects, says there is definite interest in sustainable design but it can be a challenge to reclaim and condition those types of products. “The sustainable design effort is really in full swing ... the challenge is finding someone to reclaim it, the condition [and] the cost. And those types of products are just rare.”

Ciaveralla says the best use of sustainable design is giving new life to buildings that have been underutilized or are set to be demolished, a process which also often seems to include reclaiming and repurposing materials. In 2011, he and a partner purchased a former school in Mitchell, S.D., and his firm has transformed the space into 19 apartments and space for the firm’s office. Many of the building’s materials were re-used, including slate chalkboards, which became countertops and doors. Some of the slate was also used for flooring at a two-room schoolhouse in Alfred, N.D., which Ciaveralla redesigned as a lodge and part-time residence. 

Although there isn’t a reclaimed specialist like ICSS in the Mitchell area, Ciaveralla has tapped other local resources to obtain salvaged materials including an antique shop in Mitchell and a lighting store in Aberdeen, but he also does a fair amount of salvaging himself. He and his wife once tore down a stone wall themselves - with the owner’s permission of course - and the firm has also reclaimed wood, including a floor from the Mitchell high school which they refinished and repurposed as the flooring for a tenant recreation space in the newly imagined building. 

Ciaveralla’s firm designs many custom homes, and the affluent owners of those homes can more easily afford to include rare, reclaimed products as design elements, but Ciaveralla firmly believes that everyone is interested in those types of products and would apply them to their projects if they could. “There are companies out there but you have to know where they’re at,” he says. “We need more of them because a lot of these old structures are getting torn down and what do you do with the material? ... If someone is building a standard house and they have access to barn wood they’re going to use it where they can. I think it’s just opportunity and access to the material that limits the use.” PB

Cass County Reporter: Reclaimed Lumber Rich in History

Reclaimed Lumber Rich In History
Central Cass Graduate Opens ICSS Design and Supply in Fargo
By Rachel Stanislawski

Central Cass alumni Seth Carlson, is on to great things as the 2006 graduate recently opened his own Fargo-based reclaimed wood business, ICSS Design and Supply in June 2013. 

With the purpose of providing customers with an “innovative and sustainable alternative to contemporary design and construction”, Carlson founded ICSS Design and Supply in 2008 in Duluth, Minn. while attending the University of Minnesota Duluth. ICSS seeks to educate perspective buyers on the importance of sustainability practices through the use of reclaimed wood products. 

“I ran a furniture manufacturing company, Ingvald’s Custom Builds in Duluth, which inspired what I’m doing now,” says Carlson. “The reclaimed wood market is growing, and I’m the only one who has tapped into the market in North Dakota.” Carlson’s mission is to search for, purchase and sell reclaimed wood to builders, architects and homeowners.

With unique patterns fashioned from flowing grans and seeds, Carlson’s supply of grain-eroded slabs from the 1877 Old Globe grain elevator in Superior, WI is a prime example of why reclaimed wood is becoming a hot commodity.

“The character of the wood is unmatched,” says Carlson. “The history of where they wood came from is what interests people. This wood lived a life, and now people are able to bring that story into their home.” Pieces from the elevator, which was once the largest in the world, come complete with over a century-old history. So rare is the wood, that Carlson purchased the entire supply when the elevator closed. 

“Most of my lumber now comes from the grain elevator,” says Carlson who constantly searches for promising barns, buildings and various sites to purchase materials before they are torn down and destroyed.

“I don’t do tear downs,” says Carson. “I’m always looking for someone to do teardowns. Unfortunately, most people won’t take the time. Instead, the wood is burned, plowed over and turned into a landfill.” However, the supply Carlson is able to save for reuse is sure to have a story to share. 

While Carlson’s reclaimed wood comes rich in history, Carlson works to ensure that the wood isn’t exclusive to the rich. 

“Initially, people only thought reclaimed wood was for the rich,” says Carlson. “The biggest reclaimed timber supplier is in Duluth, and their prices are extremely high, only millionaires can purchase the products. I’m hoping to source more local wood to keep the prices low. My goal is to see the wood saved, and I will take a smaller profit to see the wood reused.”

Around a week ago, Carlson as able to acquire a historical supply of reclaimed wood from a local source. “Recently, Jade Presents in Fargo has been renovating, and I bought all the lumber they’re tearing off the roof and selling,” says Carlson. “It’s kind of cool because the pieces will be made and kept in Fargo so we’re keeping to local. A couple furniture business in town have purchased some of the wood.”

ReDoux, Grain Designs, Vinyl Taco, Wurst Beer Hall (yet to open), Maxwell’s restaurant, condos, and area homes and lake homes have kept the life of Carlson’s wood alive as they utilize pieces in their architecture and design. “Fargo is very progressive,” says Carlson. “The homeowners are reaching out of their normal conservative design philosophy.”

On a more national level, Carlson’s Eastern White Pine wood from the Old Globe Grain elevator can be seen in Ron Kirn’s line of signature Barn Buster guitars. Kirn is a popular guitar builder in Florida. 

For those who have yet to be sold on the idea of incorporating reclaimed wood into their home, visit Carlson’s website at www.icssdesign.com to view pictures of his products in use, and to see what inventory is available. ICSS has an array of grain-eroded slabs, rough dimensional lumber, timers and beams available. 

“Once people see the product installed and how aesthetically pleasing it is I can usually win them over,” says Carlson. “You get such awesome customer feedback if you’re a business with reclaimed wood and people can see that you care about sustainability.”

As Carlson is now closer to his hometown, he remembers his Casselton roots. “Casselton was the coolest town ever to grow up in, I had a great childhood. I played all the sports, and was involved in music and speech,” reminisces Carlson. Carlson is the son of Casselton City Forester Bill Carlson, and has two siblings: Kelsey and Craig. With a background in marketing and career as Marketing Director for the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, Kelsey has been a tremendous aide in helping market ICSS. Meanwhile, Carlson’s brother Craig is working towards his Ph.D. in the area of plant genetics and horticulture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. 

ICSS Design and Supply is located at 4200 3rd Avenue North Fargo, where Carlson rents space from Mike Casavant, owner of KW Boring. Casavant has been wonderful with graciously helping load and unload semis for Carlson. If you’re in the market for an exceptional design piece with a story to share visit ICSS, and bring history into your home.


By Rick Abbott - High Plains Reader

Seth Carlson rubs his face and yawns. It looks like it was a long night.

He made his way over from his Moorhead shop to the office, located in a bustling industrial area on the western edge of Fargo, where the sounds of various machinery come through the window.

Carlson’s office serves as a sort of showroom. Samples of the reclaimed wood products he sells are scattered around the room. A weathered slab of two-by-fours stands near the window, its surface like a model of rolling hills, with old square nails still poking through. It’s one of many wooden slabs that were part of the Old Globe grain elevator in Superior, Wis. The elevator was built with these slabs stacked together to form a chamber into which grain was dumped. After dozens of years in use, with millions of tiny grains slowly eroding away the surface of the wood, it now is a valuable piece: part artwork, part construction material. Businesses have used them as showpieces, shining a light from above that casts long shadows over the hills and valleys in the weathered wood.

“There’s some that are like super-deep erosion, you know, really funky stuff, and that’s just from the grain hitting the walls,” Carlson says.

Carlson runs ICSS Design & Supply, a reclaimed wood supplier. Rather than throwing out centuries-old materials or churning them into wood chips, these pieces of history can be reused, providing a rough-yet-elegant addition to a room or being sanded and stained for a business’s entryway floor.

“The eroded wall sections, there’s literally no more of those in the world, so I’ve got the last supply in the world,” Carlson says.

Some ICSS clients include Vinyl Taco, Redoux, Wurst Bier Hall and Maxwell’s.

The November wind is bitingly cold as Carlson heads out the door of his office and across the gravel parking lot.

Stacks upon stacks of boards and slabs serve as a stockpile on the far side of the lot. Carlson walks quickly around the piles, trying in vain to shield himself from the chill.

The company that owned the Old Globe elevator was foreclosed upon earlier this year, opening up the huge supply of vintage wood. Carlson bought three semi loads full of lumber for a good price, although it still put him in debt.

“But it was a great opportunity to kickstart a business because it was a great way to get a lot of inventory really cheap,” Carlson says. “I know Fargo doesn’t really have a reclaimed wood supplier and Fargo is booming like crazy. It’s ridiculous how much construction and everything is going on here, so I really wanted to tap this market as quick as I could before somebody else did.”

It seems that quick action has paid off, with orders pouring in.

“Everything is coming in faster than I can manage it right now. The first two months, all I was doing was phone calls and emails trying to set up clients, and that’s finally kicking in,” Carlson says.

In the past, he says, if homeowners wanted to use reclaimed lumber in their homes, they would have had to be millionaires. Now, half of his sales are to people building homes in the $150,000-$200,000 range. With the nationwide average price for rough, reclaimed lumber nearing $4 a foot, Carlson sells wood for $2 a foot. The cheap prices are due to local sourcing and forgoing the expensive transportation that other companies use to move wood across the country.

Carlson says he’s surprised at the type of construction going on in Fargo.

“The cool thing is Fargo is way more progressive in terms of design and construction than I ever thought. I just assumed that everyone built the same boring house, but it’s kind of cool, getting really involved in the design and construction industry, how creative people are in town. It’s awesome, like, Fargo’s looking up,” Carlson says.

He says a big part of the job is informing his clients and builders how to use the materials.

“(The builders are) like, ‘What the hell do we do with this?’ ... You can show somebody an old chunk of wood and they’ll be like, ‘OK, now what?’ If you show them how you can use it, then it helps a ton.”

While not specifically trained in the business side of things, Carlson has been working with trees and wood his whole life. Growing up in Casselton, N.D., with a forester for a dad, he says his family is basically “a bunch of tree-huggers,” and they’re all “plant, Earthy people.”

Carlson studied acting at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he first combined a knack for construction and salesmanship.

“Broke as hell,” Carlson and a friend would sneak into the scene shop at night to build furniture and later sell it. One year, they started selling personal tap boards for students in the tap dance classes.

“We made one and put it out in the lobby in the theater and were like, ‘Tap dance boards $150, call Seth or Noah,’ and we got like 20 orders or something. So we were like, ‘Oh, sweet!’ so we snuck into the scene shop and made a bunch of tap dance boards, and that was just like an example of s—t that we did in college just to scrape by. So I was kind of forced into it,” Carlson says.

Back near the woodpile, Carlson hops into his warm and idling truck and makes his way back to the office.

Looking forward, and with reclaimed wood becoming more scarce, Carlson says local sourcing is key to sustainability, rather than shipping wood from across the country.

“We’re minimizing that impact a little bit more. The less semi loads and diesel trucks we send down the road is a benefit,” he says.

But for the short-term, it looks like the local supply will last for quite a while.

“It seriously would take probably 50 years before we would run out of useable product. In the near future, there’s no shortage,” Carlson says.

Inspired Home Feature - "History Rebuilt" | Fargo Design Magazine

Inspired Home Magazine Fargo published an article entitled "History Rebuilt - Crafting Custom Furniture for all the Right Reasons."  The article features the story behind the reclaimed wood furniture constructed by owner, Seth Carlson.  To view the full article, download the PDF version here.


By: Dave Olson, INFORUM

FARGO - The latest thing in interior and exterior design is decades old.  It’s reclaimed wood and it comes from dilapidated barns and long-defunct grain elevators.  But don’t let its humble origins fool you.

“The only people who can afford it, it seems, are upscale clients, which is unfortunate,” said Seth Carlson, owner of a new Fargo-based company – ICSS Design & Supply – that buys old wood and sells it to builders and architects, who in turn integrate the antique lumber into designs for homes and businesses. 

While reclaimed wood often carries a hefty price tag, Carlson said he’s working on shaving that down.

“That’s kind of why I wanted to open up here,” he said. “My goal is to get reclaimed wood products at an affordable price for anyone who wants to integrate it.”

Carlson has been in the used-wood trade since 2008, when he worked for a time in Duluth, Minn., making and marketing furniture with repurposed wood.

Around the same time, Carlson began selling used wood for a company that was mining it from the Old Globe grain elevator in Duluth, a sprawling complex that was the largest grain elevator in the world when it was built in the late 1800s. 

Now, Carlson said, the company that was mining wood from the elevator has run into financial trouble and the supply of vintage lumber from the elevator has dried up.

New environmental regulations may make it difficult for anyone to resume harvesting wood from the complex, which still holds millions of board feet of lumber, much of which is in the form of grain-eroded slabs, he said.

Grain eroded because the elevator’s walls were built with a soft wood that was easily sanded down as grains flowed over their surface.

Aesthetically interesting bumps and other features emerged wherever grains encountered something hard, such as a knot or a square nail.

Carlson said he recently purchased the remaining inventory of lumber harvested from the elevator and said it may be one of the last sources of Globe elevator lumber available in the world.

“It (the wood) is unique to that building, because it was built with all Eastern white pine,” he said.

“It’s softer than most other pines, which allowed it to get sculpted and carved as dramatic as it did,” Carlson said. The slabs command a retail price of $50 to $75 a square foot.

Examples of the slabs will soon be visible in a number of spots around downtown Fargo, including the Vinyl Taco and the Wurst Bier Hall, two businesses poised to open in the near future.

Reclaimed lumber is also gaining visibility on other fronts.  The exterior façade of Chris Hawley Architects and Radiant Homes is comprised of barn lumber. Reclaimed wood also adorns interior space in the business located on the west side of Island Park in Fargo.

The firm also uses vintage lumber in many of the projects it does for clients, owner Chris Hawley said.

“We use it a ton. The best part is, it always tells a story,” Hawley said. His projects include high-end homes, and restaurants and small commercial spaces.

He said that while used lumber can get pricey, clients often create their own discounts.

“When it is affordable it’s usually those who are willing to take care of the sweat equity portion of it,” Hawley said.

He explained the premium on used lumber this way: “Somebody’s got to take it down and clean it up and ship it. It all ends up adding to the cost.”

Alex Belquist, owner of Brew Ales and Eats in Perham, Minn., decided to go with reclaimed wood as part of a major remodeling of the business.

The positive response from customers since the business reopened this past spring justified the price bump that came with using reclaimed wood, Belquist said.

Warren Ackley, one of the owners of the Vinyl Taco, said they decided to use a grain-eroded slab to help define the servers’ station because they wanted every wall of the establishment to tell a story.

“Also,” he said, “with the corn tortillas and the grains in the whiskeys, this grain elevator seemed to work for me.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555.