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Reclamation success story

  • Michael Deakin, the founder of Heritage Salvage in Petaluma, with some slabs of redwood, bay and other hardwoods. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)

Michael “Bug” Deakin's crusade to promote new construction and remodeling with wood salvaged from old buildings has been so successful that the founder of Heritage Salvage hardly has time to swing a hammer anymore.

While his staff of 14 carries on the cause at his company's three-acre Petaluma lumber yard, Deakin marshals his regional marketing campaign and numerous spin-off projects from his office in the back of a 1974 International diesel box truck at the edge of the property near the Petaluma River.

“I can see Shollenberger Nature Preserve from here,” he said, glancing out his window. “We have river otters under our old dock.”

On his laptop, Deakin screened the first in a new series of television commercials mimicking the hit cable series, “Game of Thrones.” For the past two years, he has co-hosted the weekly “Reclamation Row Radio” show with Steve Jaxon on KSRO-AM radio. Meanwhile, Deakin is working on plans for a reality TV show.

Heritage Salvage also maintains a San Francisco showroom for furniture made of reused wood, and Deakin has a new book titled “Heritage Salvage: Reclaimed Stories” coming out in the fall, to be published by Cameron and Company of Petaluma.

For Deakin, the art of giving new life to old wood is all about the stories. As he roamed the lumber yard, as he still does almost daily,

Deakin pointed out arches from the former country home of the famed Flood family of San Francisco, and beams and doors once owned by celebrated attorney Melvin Belli.

Breezing briskly past a stack of redwood slabs, he quipped, “We love slabs. Slabs-R-Us.”

Would-be wood buyers, stopping Deakin to ask questions, had no trouble spotting him. A shortish, trim man of 65, Deakin was hard to miss in his snappy straw hat, flowered shirt, plaid shorts, white socks and low-topped boots.

Deakin declined to say how he got his widely used nickname, but it's tempting to think everyone calls him “Bug” because he hops around like one.

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