The best things in life are free and for Carl Livingston - the saw milling apprenticeship he earned while working for nothing has set him up for the future.
Now a New Zealand leader in repurposing timber for the housing and landscape markets, he turns old Australian hardwood into trusses, bridges, gates and pergolas.
His first job was pulling apart the Kingston Flyer bridge and selling it to Sir Michael Hill in Arrowtown.
Then he came up with the genius idea of milling power poles. People told him he was mad. But he’s since proved that Australian hardwood can be repurposed perfectly.
“These old things that have held up trains, trucks and cars come to us and get a spa and a sauna and then go back out again to these beautiful houses,” he said.
He said it was like the old wood was now living in luxury and finally being given the respect it deserved.
Originally starting in Shotover Country, Carl moved to Earnscleugh in 2010 and set up along the banks of the Clutha River, where cyclists on the nearby river track stop off and visit him.
The former ski-field access road groomer loves the bush and joined the saw milling industry in the late 1980s to change people’s perspective on it.
“I started thinking about the world and running out of resources, so I started to look at the timber.”
Thirty years on and he’s still the market leader in buying and selling Australian hardwood, to restore and repurpose.
Blanket Bay Lodge was his most ambitious project to date, along with Closeburn Station, and both really put Carl on the map.
Old beams were water blasted and wire brushed to remove 100 years of grime, producing a beautiful new product for the luxury resort.
There’s plenty more projects on the horizon now he has built up a team to help him work on the labour-intensive jobs.
His client base is always growing and changing, with the younger generation now starting to appreciate more the natural character of the wood.
IRONWOOD RECYCLED TIMBERS LTD | Phone: 027 6543 589 | email@example.com | Earnscleugh (Central Otago)