Episode 5: Demolition

How long have you been in the demolition business and how did you get involved in this line of work?
Lorenz: I started when I was a junior in high school. A neighbor tells my dad, “I’m getting a new garage and they’re going to wreck the old one.” My dad asked, “Well, how much are they charging you to wreck the old one?” My dad found out it was a $200 job and said I’d do it for half. When I got home from school, my dad told me that I’d be wrecking the next door neighbor’s garage.

So from there, I went down to the hardware store, bought a sledgehammer, a pinch bar, a crowbar, and I borrowed my dad’s maul chainsaw and commenced tearing down this garage. I went on top of the garage and started chopping down with the chainsaw down the center, cutting every other beam. Then I got down below, cut all the front beams, and then I took the cable, put it on the back of a ’53 Dodge and tried to pull it over. I chopped it up with the chainsaw, pulled it all apart, and put it into a wooden trailer on the back of the Dodge. That was the car that I was fixing up and I didn’t even have a driver’s license then. I took about five or six loads to the dump and then swept it all up — swept the sidewalk, the driveway, everything — really cleaned it all up.

Long story short, the following summer I ended up wrecking 17 garages for Danley Lumber in Chicago. Back then you didn’t have to have a CDL, it was back in ’65 or so. I wrecked the garages and some of them were brick. We’d sit there and hammer the mortar off the brick and stack them. The brick buyer would come by and buy the brick from you for eight cents a piece. I learned how to go into a garage, find all the metals, recycle them, tear out any wire and sell stuff down the alley.

I learned quickly that there was money in hard work. I learned that if I did a job quickly, didn’t complain, and swept up the alley, the neighbors would be cool with my work. The rest is history. Been wrecking ever since.

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