You never know what you'll find at The Rebuilding Center. Just ask Nick Storie.
There are many colorful characters amongst the regular shoppers at the ReBuilding Center. It’s one of the reasons people love this place. Nick Storie is one of those characters, and one with a story.
One wouldn’t describe Nick Storie as the retiring type, by profession or personality. He’s got opinions; and he’s had them for a long-time. When I asked Nick why he shops at the ReBuilding Center, Nick wasn’t subtle: “We’ve clear-cut every f***ing thing from one side of the country to the other. It’s gotta stop. There’s gotta be some reverence for life in all of its forms.”
And so Nick does his part, salvaging materials, reusing materials, repurposing materials.
"My father was into heavy construction and my grandfather before him. I went into it. Started running machines at 12, 13, 14, 15 years old. Playing with bulldozers, stuff like that. I went to Oregon Tech, got into highway engineering. Ran loaders, and bulldozers, that kind of stuff. Then I got into the demolition business. We took out structures, put in temporary bridges, bridges that were coming down. I ran three different landfills. And I saw all of this s*** coming in—12x12’s—long lengths—they just got rid of them because you could buy them cheaper than you could find out where to put them. I’m thinking 'this is insane…'"
Eventually, Nick met his wife Sue, raised a family, and got into the concrete barrier business. Nick did the sales and it was easy and good money. On any road construction project, there’s a line where the barriers are placed. Nick placed the barriers where they were supposed to go. As he described it, “How could I screw it up?”
Anytime Nick and Sue made a profit, Nick plowed his money back into real estate. He had two rules: 1) it had to be within biking distance of his home at 24th and Knott in Northeast Portland; and 2) it had to be quality construction. He’d fix them up and rent them out. “It’s not like I was a genius. If I was a genius, I’d have bought more homes.”
Currently, Nick’s finishing the remodel of two homes near the corner of Knott and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. The identical homes were built in 1906 but they have good bones.
"Why tear them down and build something new? Why in the year 2016 can’t we put them together so they stand another 100 years? And utilize some used and reused materials to do it. That’s where it’s at, man."
From doors to floors, windows, and appliances, Nick gets most of his materials from the ReBuilding Center. On a tour of his remodeled homes, Nick points out the various materials he acquired from RBC. “That’s your cabinet; those are your doors. See that window there? You put your desk here, and you look up through that window I bought at the ReBuilding Center and you can see the West Hills.”
I asked Nick if he had any parting remarks. He replied, “Sure, send your kids to school. Make sure they study hard or someday, someway, they may end up like me. So mom and dad that message is for you. Send your kids to school. Get them smart, or they’ll end up like me."