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Business Profile: Black Dog Salvage

Salvage Dawgs Roanoke

Black Dog Salvage has “brought America to Roanoke.”

Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp, owners Black Dog, are de facto ambassadors of Roanoke thanks in part to a reality show that showcases the business and location on national television.

You may have seen Whiteside and Kulp on “Salvage Dawgs,” which features the team as they find, reclaim, repurpose, and resell architectural salvage.

The little company is a big example of how to do business in the 21st century.

Black Dog uses a smart mix of great products, marketing, social media, and its television show to extend the business footprint well beyond the Roanoke Region. Internet sales are an increasing part of the business model.

The business has also been featured in national publications such as Garden & Gun, This Old House, The New York Times, and The Toronto Sun.

The attention has translated to recognition for the homegrown business that has served the Roanoke Region since 1999.

“We are seeing beneficial business results out of it,” Kulp said.

People from all over the nation and Canada are dropping in to see the local celebrities, snap a photo, and even buy an item or two.

“People are using us as a connecting point to their destination,” said Whiteside, because of Roanoke's central East Cost location along the Interstate 81 corridor. “We are a reason to come to Roanoke.”

And once people get here, he says, they appreciate all the region has to offer.

“Roanoke is one of the best. Lots of activity – mountains, lakes, streams, the greenway.”

Black Dog Salvage Roanoke

Black Dog Salvage has evolved from a small start-up to a full-scale retail operation in 40,000 square feet and a marketplace that includes 30 vendors.

The biggest misconception about the business is that it is not for the everyday consumer and that “salvage” refers to machinery or large parts. A renewed focus on green living, reusable products, and sustainability has helped change that idea.

Black Dog sells everything from doorknobs to doors and postcards to art, specializing in “house parts” for homeowners, interior designers, and builders.

Between running the business and filming, the people behind Black Dog Salvage have been quite busy. It takes days of filming to get the 20 minutes of footage for each episode.

Things don't look like they will slow down anytime soon. “Salvage Dawgs” was picked up for a second season; filming is underway and 13 new episodes will air later this year.

And the one thing everyone wants to know? Are these guys the same in person as on TV?

“That is us on TV,” Whiteside said. “We are the people that are shown. That's our banter, our humor, our pain. We are very human.”


Top image by Tara Lilly Design + Photography
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