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December 3, 2012

Bid & Destroy breaks new ground

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL

Brian Gurry (left) and Lee Danley, demolition experts extraordinaire featured on TV’s Bid & Destroy. Brian Gurry (left) and Lee Danley, demolition experts extraordinaire featured on TV’s Bid & Destroy.

Bid & Destroy is breaking new ground by offering TV audiences their first intimate look at the demolition industry.

The 12-part series features the staff of Danley Demolition Inc. of Fremont, N.H. as they bid and bash their way across New England, liquidating salvage as they go.

Owner Lee M. Danley traded on 30 years of experience as a builder to establish Danley Demolition with his wife, Rita, in 1993.

Featured on the series are: business partner (and hoarder) Brian Gurry; his nephew, construction labourer Eric Gurry; and excavator operator Kip Walker.

Danley’s wife and kids also make appearances.

Gurry had previously appeared as host of TV series American Builder from 2004 to 2007 and had featured Danley Demolition on several episodes.

Producer Leftfield Pictures approached Danley and Gurry for this series, which was greenlit by the U.S. National Geographic Channel.

“Filming the series turned out to be a lot of work,” said Danley.

“We would come to the production company and National Geo (graphic) with about 10 potential jobs at a time and they would pass on jobs they didn’t want to film. They would film the bidding for the contracts they were interested in, but of course we don’t win on every bid. On the contracts we would win, I would ask the client if they minded having the demolition filmed. Some of them signed the release form and others said ‘absolutely not.’”

Danley said he’s selective with the contracts the company takes on, counting the salvage value of the property to provide an accurate bid as close to the bone as possible.

He prefers winner-take-all pricing, with the contents of the entire property up for grabs.

“If the client wants to take something, I’ll tell them to take what they want, but the price won’t be as generous as it was,” he said.

“My wife is currently writing up a proposal on an industrial property, where I’m giving them back $100,000 on the metal, including copper wires, switch gears and transformers. On the other hand, if I drive up to a building and I see 25 guys and their trucks lined up for a walkthrough, I’ll probably leave. That’s a sure sign that some idiot is set to do it for less than cost and prolong his own funeral.”

Unusual finds were more common in the past, he noted.

The current value of most demolished properties is found in metal, wood and brick.

In the past, his crews have found expensive jewelry, watches, coin and stamp collections, and vintage slot machines. A job at a crack house in Lawrence, Mass. revealed a can full of cash.

“My favourite piece of salvage is an old dentist’s chair from a hospital in Cape Cod, which I now have in my office,” he said.

“That chair probably had JFK and the whole family sitting on it.”

Among the TV finds are a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442, a Second World War German Enigma coding machine and an unassembled ultralight airplane with a gas engine.

“We found someone who put the crazy thing together and flew it around,” said Danley.

Current episodes feature demolition contracts ranging from a massive boarding house to an abandoned paper mill, complete with a 16-storey metal smokestack.

Danley said he was never concerned about televising his company’s demolition activities because safety has always been a priority for his workers.

“We’ve never had a single claim,” he said.

However, with a month of broadcasts on the air, Danley said he hasn’t yet nabbed a contract on the strength of his TV appearances.

“And damn it, I was hoping I would,” he said.

“What we originally thought would be a three-month production schedule turned into a six-month investment, but looking back at it, it was a ton of fun. If we get renewed for another season, we’ve got enough TV production experience under our belts that we could negotiate the schedule a little to make it work better for us.”

Bid & Destroy is currently showing on the National Geographic Channel Canada.

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