Residents of Toronto will recognize the name Priestly Demolition Inc. The company, which has been around since 1971, specializes in—among many other things—demolition and salvage services to the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors of the construction industry in Ontario.
I’ve always wondered what goes on the sites marked by Priestly signs. Now, thanks to Salvage Kings, I know.
Debuting Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History, Salvage Kings—from Media Headquarters, the folks behind Canada’s Smartest Person and Tessa & Scott—gives the award-winning company and its staff a starring role. Priestly Demolition Inc. offers a one-two punch, going in and tearing down anything from a bridge, hospital, mall or industrial complex to an airport or even the CN Tower. But before the demolition can begin, salvaging anything of value happens first. That responsibility falls on Ted Finch, head of salvage, and his four-person team, who are tasked with collecting, sorting and then auctioning and selling items for a profit.
“From the time I was five or six years old, I’ve been interested in old stuff,” Finch says. “I would drag stuff home and refinish it. I’ve been going it my whole life. I’ve been an antique dealer and I’ve known Vic Priestly for 25 years. He just kept telling me to come and work for him.”
In Sunday’s first instalment, Ted and his team, including right-hand man Justin Fortin, descend on Market Village Mall in Markham, Ontario, where they are tasked with unlocking mysterious vault doors, while the demolition team begins its tear down. But while the vault and its mystery may be the big prize, there a lot of little ones collected along the way. Store signs can be sold by the letter, cooling and heating systems cut from ceilings for a profit, or medical equipment rolled away to be snapped up for cash by a feature film set decorator. As with anything in the collectable genre, I’m constantly surprised by what can be given a value … and the folks who are willing to pay for them.
“I like it when people get an appreciation for recycling and history and moving things forward and not just throwing it in the garbage,” Finch says. “There is a lot of waste in this society and it boggles my mind the stuff that people just throw out. It has a lot of life left in it.”
Salvage Kings airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.
Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.