Roanoke, Va. (WFXR) — Not every town has a dynamic duo and team doing something so unique that a national TV network wants to follow them around with cameras for nearly a decade, but for Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp, The Salvage Dawgs, it was their reality up until this past summer. While you might not see the dawgs as much on your screens, for now, over at Blackdog Salvage they’re continuing to do big things.
Mike and Robert took some time with us to look back on the show, saying they didn’t invent salvage they just put it on main street.
“This business, it takes passion and to be able to do what you love to do and then be able to share it with a lot of people, it was a real opportunity. You know you have that platform to show people that this business existed and this type of saving/reuse is a way of life that can be carried on.”Robert Kulp, Co-owner Black Dog Salvage
“It was our time, ya know we kind of hit it at the right spot. You kind of look for divine inspiration and why things happen and this happened at a time where it was acceptable and people were understanding what reuse and repurposing are and trying to mitigate the waste.”Mike Whiteside, Co-owner Black Dog Salvage
Mike and Robert definitely have some favorite moments from the show; with 11 seasons and 143 episodes in a matter of eight years, there were some laughs, bumps, bruises, and tears shed.
“I think back, my favorite show I think, I was busting off big huge brackets off a house up in Northern Virginia and rock let loose and hit Mike right in the head.”Robert Kulp, Co-owner Black Dog Salvage
“You know we were always touching people’s possessions and we did an episode out in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. It was a burn and someone lost their life in the burn and the family was very moved that we were up there and saving some of the stuff, some of their history.”Mike Whiteside, Co-owner Black Dog Salvage
What many don’t realize is that before the show, Mike and Robert were averaging around seven salvage jobs a year. When the show began, the demands increased and Mike and Robert found themselves doing salvage jobs every 2 weeks and around 20-26 annually.
While salvaging is certainly still the epicenter of what they do and the core of their business, they are using the same energy viewers were able to witness on Salvage Dawgs and immersing it into Black Dog Salvage.
“We’re going to continue on salvaging. That’s what we do. That’s the key point of our business. It keeps us authentic, it keeps us in line, keeps us true to our company goals and even without the television show we know we’re going to have people coming from all over the country and our concentration right now is expanding our business right here in Roanoke from a physical place. We’re place-makers already. We’ve created a really interesting synergy here at Black Dog with other vendors and expanding, fixing up this huge building. We’ve got more to come and that what we’re concentrated on, expanding this footprint and making it a real target.”Robert Kulp, Co-owner Black Dog Salvage
Mike says they’ve always sold local and focus on providing American made products.
“We’ve partnered up with some folks, one of them being Texture, a new line of furniture. It’s really fresh and a straight consumer and has an upcycle story, made in Roanoke. We partnered up with Wyndham mattress made in Richmond. We also have our paint line and have a product called Reclaim. Black dog Salvage Reclaim is barn wood that has been milled to become paneling… so this whole process is trying to create products that are reproducible and sustainable and have an American tag on them.”Mike Whiteside, Co-owner Black Dog Salvage
In addition to these partnerships, an art gallery expansion has also taken place in the loft of the Black Dog Salvage building, showcasing local artist’s work wall-to-wall. It’s quite a sight and space, as the lighting that floods into the windows seem to perfectly illuminate the one-of-kind pieces created through different mediums.
Though many all over the map will miss the chemistry of Mike and Robert on Salvage Dogs, their gifts for salvaging, sustainability, and curating will live on right here in the Roanoke Valley.