Barnwood Bros thrives, advances in Casper Start-Up Challenge

Kyle Petrie and Eric Mundorf pose in the Barnwood Bros. showroom in Casper. The business, which specializes in reclaiming and reusing materials from dilapidated barns and sheds, is one of the five finalists in this year's Start-Up Challenge. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

By Tom Mast, special to Oil City News 

Adam Jackson was already thinking about ways to grow his reclaimed wood business within two months of opening its doors. Now, he hopes the third annual Casper Start-Up Challenge can help him with just such an expansion.

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Barnwood Bros specializes in reclaiming old lumber and using it for a myriad of modern applications. To that end, they demolish barns and other structures that are typically more than 70 years old, then rework the wood into usable planks.

Adam’s company not only supplies wood but provides installations and arranges for custom wood projects as well. “That’s what sets us apart,” Adam said. “We do everything. We don’t just offer the wood.”

Adam and Kyle Petrie are partners in the business. Eric Mundorf, a cabinet maker and master craftsman, makes customized pieces like barnwood tables and picture frames. The business, located at 1241 East Yellowstone, opened on Aug. 1.

Barnwood is used frequently in interior designs, and Barnwood Bros stands ready to help customers complete just about any project. “Every new pub, bar, and hotel going up seems to be incorporating barnwood,” Adam said, adding that modern motifs with a rustic touch are a popular look these days.

With its cold and dry climate, Wyoming has no shortage of good-quality barnwood. “It’s really a matter of meeting the right people and reaching out to people in the middle of Wyoming, the ranchers and farmers who have been here for a long time,” he said. “When you’re looking for 80- or 100-plus-year-old structures, it comes down to who homesteaded that land a hundred years ago.”

Adam and his team also have had opportunities to harvest old wood in Nebraska and South Dakota, but currently, they lack the wherewithal for doing so. That’s where this year’s Casper Start-Up Challenge could come into play.

Barnwood Bros is one of five finalists in this year’s Start-Up Challenge. The three eventual winners will each receive $5,000, one year of free rent at the Wyoming Technology Business Center, a chance to apply for a share in a $50,000 seed fund, and business counseling from WTBC staff to help grow their businesses.

Adam said such a financial boon might allow him to hire another worker. “It could also provide money to invest in a bigger trailer so we can go to these barns in South Dakota,” Adam said. The trailer they have now “is just not enough to go five hours away and tear down a three-story barn,” he added.

Adam is looking forward to participating in the remaining Casper Start-Up Challenge activities, which will include working over the next several weeks with the WTBC staff and mentors from the community to develop his business. The Start-Up Challenge will culminate in a “pitch day” on Nov. 15 at The Lyric in downtown Casper. The event will be open to the public.
“It’s a great thing for people like me, right at the cusp of the beginning,” Adam said.

The Casper Start-Up Challenge is administered through the WTBC, a part of the University of Wyoming. It is made possible thanks to sponsorships from CAEDA/Forward Casper, the John P. Ellbogen Foundation, Oil City News, First Interstate Bank, and WIDC Frontier CDC.

The aim of the program is “to catalyze Wyoming start-up businesses and provide the opportunity to apply for seed money to take the business past concept stage and into real-world first article builds and initial sales,” according to the Start-Up Challenge website.

WTBC assistance throughout the year:

The many ways in which the WTBC can help start-up or fledgling businesses isn’t limited to the Casper Start-Up Challenge. For more information about how the WTBC might be able to assist you with a new business or a start-up idea, contact Jerad Stack at 307-315-6401, or email jstack@uwyo.edu.

The Mobil Oil logo can be seen on an old barn door. The strips of metal were reused from old oil and gas cans. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Nails pile up in buckets at the work station used for prepping newly reclaimed barn wood at Barnwood Bros. in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Eric Nundorf trims a piece of old barn wood at Barnwood Bros. recently in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Eric Nundorf walks inside the Barnwood Bros. new showroom recently in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Kyle Petrie, in front, and Eric Nundorf walk through some of the raw supply of reclaimed barn wood recently at their new Barnwood Bros. shop in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Kyle Petrie stands with some of the salvaged barn doors on display at Barnwood Bros. in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)