Georgia brothers find success in reclaimed wood

ajc.com

In a nondescript, tin-clad barn outside Athens, the Sons of Sawdust sat in their office, mulling the possibility of “terminal length” — the point at which a beard ceases to grow longer. Matt Hobbs’ and Ben Hobbs’ facial hair is an integral part of their brand, and their beards have stunted somewhere between Kenny Rogers and ZZ Top.

“We’re trying to out-beard each other,” joked younger brother Ben, 30.

“I wonder if I trim it,” said Matt, 34, stroking his blonder facial mane, “maybe it’ll grow again.”

Ben stops clowning around, momentarily, and gets serious about beard regeneration: “We really need to look into this.”

This get-it-done determination is one trait the Hobbs brothers share, but that wasn’t always the case. And not too long ago, both were so down on their luck, suicide seemed like a viable option.

But today, through a confluence of skill, luck and good branding, these two restless creatives have built a reclaimed-wood craft business with backlogged orders and clients from Los Angeles to New York. “American Pickers” creator Mike Wolfe is pitching a reality TV show about them to major networks.

The irony is that Sons of Sawdust has relied on old-fashioned mediums — woodworking and storytelling — to become social media stars, which is the root of their popularity (and how Wolfe initially found them). Their relationship to reclaimed wood traces back to a garage workshop three hours south of Atlanta, where two boys once were awed by their grandfather’s craftsmanship. They called him “Pa.”

Pa had no way of knowing that breathing life into forgotten lumber would become a metaphor for his grandsons’ lives and their ticket to success.

Read the whole story of the Hobbs' brothers rocky road to success, and learn about the man that inspired their growing business.

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