Special Delivery

BY BRIAN SHERMAN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

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John Grisanti has been working with wood for most of his adult life, and he’ll be glad to sell you a wide range of lumber, flooring, paneling and other products. The owner of Redwood Lumber Company will even make the 17-hour trip from upstate New York to the Lowcountry to deliver the goods personally.

Grisanti’s business is in Redwood, a small town located about 100 miles north of Syracuse and just 6 miles from the Canadian border. Every few months, he and his truck and trailer make the 1,000-mile drive to the Charleston area. Would a man spend that much time on the road just to enjoy the Lowcountry’s normally pleasant weather for a few days at a time? That’s an unlikely scenario, even for someone who lives in an area where the all-time low temperature was 47 degrees below zero and the annual average snowfall approaches 75 inches.

He said he would have to pay $2,500 to have a tractor-trailer haul the fruits of his labor to their final destination, but he spends around $1,000 or so on fuel to make the deliveries himself. And that doesn’t account for the time he spends away from his business.

Grisanti simply likes to meet the people who are using his wood products. And it doesn’t hurt that his three sons—and his grandchildren—live in the Charleston area.

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“I like to be hands-on with my clients. I get to meet the builder and the homeowner, which gives them some confidence in my products. And the kids are here, so it works out great,” he explains.

All three of his sons are in the construction business in the Lowcountry, and they all use the wood products he fashions in upstate New York. Rollo Grisanti, with Tree Marsh, and Thom Grisanti, with Redwoodworks, handle high-end interior trim and cabinetry, mostly on Kiawah. Rick Balch serves as a project manager for a custom builder.

Redwood Lumber Company was a small logging operation when Grisanti opened the company in 1979. Since then, he has added a sawmill, a kiln and molding services. Because he does all the work himself, quality control is not an issue. “I do all of it from day one to the final delivery,” he explains. “I do every bit of it.”

Redwood Lumber Company specializes in cabinet-grade lumber made from butternut, black walnut and quartersawn oak. The company also sells kiln-dried flooring and paneling, hand-hewn beams and custom slab furniture.

“If I don’t have it here, I can get almost any product available in northern New York state for you in a timely manner,” he comments, adding that he’ll personally deliver his products anywhere on the East Coast.

In recent years, Grisanti has added reclaimed timbers, barn siding and various types of antique wood to his line of products. The concept of reusing wood is certainly not new to him. He pointed out that 40 years ago, he built an entire house out of reclaimed material. Today, wood originally used in barns, old houses and other structures is popular among builders in coastal Carolina and around the country. Grisanti is in the perfect place to take advantage of this trend.

Redwood is located in the St. Lawrence Valley among the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains—at one time an area dotted with thriving dairy farms. Many of them are gone, but a large number of old barns remain. Grisanti has an arrangement with two young Amish brothers who take care of the labor-intensive work of taking apart the siding and roofing. Grisanti removes the timbers and other structural members with heavy equipment.

“Reclaimed wood is in demand right now,” Grisanti says. “People love it. Most of the wood from these barns is still in good shape, and I try to salvage as much as possible.”

Brian Sherman is a Charleston-based writer.