Time is running out for fans hoping to buy memorabilia made from North Dakota State University’s Bison Sports Arena bleachers.
Grain Designs, a West Fargo company specializing in custom reclaimed wood furniture and decor, purchased the bleachers last spring as the university began a $41 million, two-year renovation project.
Owners Blain Mikkonen, Grant Koenig and Philip Bruckbauer designed and produced a line of Bison coffee tables, benches, bars and wall hangings with the wood.
The memorabilia is sold in EcoChic and Scheel’s stores as well as on the Grain Designs website. Sales have been good so far, and Mikkonen said the wood supply is starting to dwindle.
“We have very few of the numbered pine boards left, so the number of products we can produce other than what’s here is becoming limited,” he said.
The Bison bleacher project was the company’s first foray into mass production. Mikkonen said they intend to design and produce additional product lines.
“The goal is to maintain the custom furniture, but to also develop lines that are a little more affordable compared to the custom work,” Mikkonen said.
They hope to open a retail store soon as well. They currently have office and demo space in West Fargo and a shop near Davenport, N.D.
‘Sleek and simple’
Mikkonen and Koenig are credited with coming up with the idea for Grain Designs. They wrote the business plan while pursuing master’s degrees in architecture at NDSU. Bruckbauer came on board to help launch the business in the fall of 2013.
The first pieces they made were built with wood salvaged from a barn near Mikkonen’s home in South Dakota.
“When we first started, we’d go tear down a barn and build as much from it as we could,” Mikkonen said. “That’s kind of what we still do. We don’t necessarily tear down the barns ourselves anymore, but we’ll buy reclaimed lumber.”
The partners are strong believers in using sustainable materials for environmental reasons, but they also find value in the history and the story reclaimed wood gives a project.
Bruckbauer said when they buy salvaged wood they ask for information about the structure the wood came from, and they relay that information to interested customers as well.
Although the wood is old, the furniture and home décor made by Grain Designs is very modern and contemporary.
Bruckbauer describes their designs as being sleek and simple, keeping the focus on the wood.
“I would say our style for building out of reclaimed wood is more modern than it is rustic,” Bruckbauer said. “We try to incorporate steel in almost all of our pieces as well, whether painted or raw. It’s more modern industrial than farm rustic.”
The company can be reached at (701) 730-5821.