Working with the Detroit Fire Department for nearly two decades, Gary Ringer has seen his share of fire-ravaged and neglected buildings.
He even coined the phrase: “I eat, drink, and sleep blight” to describe his relationship with the damaged structures he encounters in the course of doing his job. But while some folks might become discouraged when faced with this sort of devastation, it's been an unlikely source of inspiration for Ringer.
In 2013, he founded a company called Eco-Environmental Solutions as a grassroots way to address blight in the Detroit area. The company specializes in deconstruction, the process of taking apart old buildings and salvaging parts of them for reuse. In doing this work, Ringer draws on an understanding of structures he’s gleaned from his time as a firefighter as well as prior job experiences building massive homes in the suburbs of southeast Michigan.