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ROOTED: Expert scavenger finds opportunity to help displaced fire victims

Priestly Demolition Inc. or PDI National Salvage recovered a whack of home insulation they ended up just giving away

One of the rules of salvage operations is to make money.

But that’s not what happened when Priestly Demolition Inc. or PDI National Salvage recovered a whack of home insulation.

Known for his work on the History Channel’s Salvage Kings show, Ted Finch is an expert scavenger with an eye for quality and value when he’s on the job.

“It comes naturally to me because I’ve been doing it for so long," Finch said from his shop in Bradford.

Finch said there’s money to be made from every building they demolish.

“People leave behind things, not just chattels, there’s also the lumber, the steel… We do commercial industrial which is a big part of our business, the heating and air-conditioning equipment, that big stuff. Bridges. We’ll sell anything.”

Anything except the train caboose he kept as his office. That and a plane. Or at least the shell of half of a 1979 Boeing 727 that Finch sold the front cabin of and also rents out the wings periodically to the odd television show.

As he puts it, “We have the means to move heavy stuff, so we brought it over.” Over from their original yard in Sutton. But with half-a-dozen operation sites in North America including Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary and Virginia in the U.S., and a working relationship with several European counties, Finch has a chance to view many historical properties before they’re torn down.

What took him and most Bradford residents by surprise was a fire that gutted the apartment building at 114 Holland St. last March.

Although the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management has not released the cause of the fire, former residents Sheila and Donnie Costello know it started two apartments down from them before it destroyed their home.

After hopping from motel to motel, with help from Tim Hortons' owners Perry and Jack Thornton and Jodi Greenstreet of WOW Living, the seniors ended up in a RV trailer parked behind the Bradford Community Church on the 9th Line.

Enter Greenstreet, who also runs the Out of the Cold Café. When the nexus of an idea to house the couple behind the church came up, repairs to a permanent fixture had to be made. Large hardware stores couldn’t supply the items due to COVID-19 supply issues, so Greenstreet had to look further afield.

Through a social media marketplace site, she found a manager, Ryan Hodgson, at PDI Salvage and a lovely stash of used insulation.

“It was great, it was better and thicker than we were looking for,” Greenstreet said. “If we looked at buying that quality, it would have been about $1,200. So basically, if we didn’t get it there, we couldn’t get it.”

The Costellos  moved in November and are cozy, warm and thankful for the assistance of PDI Salvage and all the volunteers who helped install the insulation.

“Without them, we don’t know where we’d be and look where we are now. There’s so much caring and loving around, it’s just very amazing,” said Donnie.

Finch shrugs off the donation, which he put at “a few hundred dollars” and said it’s about being a part of the community.

“They just showed up and they were looking for it and then when we heard what it was for, we just said, ‘you can have it’."

“We do help people out, it’s just something we do when somebody needs it. But that – being a nice person – that’s what makes the world go around,” he said.