Paradise-based B&D Builders has made a name for itself where barns are concerned. Whether it’s adaptive reuse, restoration projects or new builds, B&D’s barns are extraordinary. Since its launch in 2000, the company has expanded its focus to include equestrian centers, event venues, party barns commercial projects and custom homes.
Turn south off Route 30 in Paradise, and the landscape immediately transitions into farmland and countryside. That’s where B&D Builders makes its home. The company’s office building is stunning and could conceivably qualify as a museum dedicated to time-honored building techniques and materials. “When we built it, we thought it would be a good idea to show clients our capabilities,” says co-owner, Daniel Glick.
The company’s reception area is furnished with comfortable chairs and a table that is topped with glossy magazines that provide a glimpse into another world – the equestrian life – that entails its own unique lifestyle. The barns, arenas and other horse-related buildings B&D creates for clients are beyond beautiful.
I must admit, until this story was pitched to me by Alpha Dog Advertising, a marketing agency in Lancaster, I was not familiar with B&D Builders. As is often the case, we are unaware of or don’t appreciate what we have right in our own backyard. Ashley Kendrick Kennedy, our graphic designer, and I found ourselves salivating over the pictures we were seeing of one of the company’s projects and decided to move things around to include it in this month’s issue. We also oohed and aahed over the photos on the company’s website. Curiously, no photos of Daniel or his business partner, Ben Esh, appear on it. Glick, Esh … Could they be Amish, I wondered?
As I sat and leafed through the glossy pub, Equestrian Living, a man appeared. “You must be Suzanne,” he said. “I’m Daniel.” He led me into a conference room that demonstrates the company’s abilities.
I looked around and then looked at him. Dumbfounded, I asked, “Are you Amish?” He answered in the affirmative. I was aware of the carpentry skills the Amish possess, but this was beyond anything imaginable. Daniel simply – and humbly – calls the creativity of the company’s employees “a God-given talent.” Daniel and Ben also credit B&D’s success to their upbringing. “Our families have worked with animals and the buildings they call home for generations. We were raised with that knowledge, as well as a strong work ethic, and it’s part of everything we do,” they share on B&D’s website. The company also promises clients that their projects will be “built right or not at all.”
Daniel and Ben have been friends since childhood. Both grew up on farms in the Leola area. They attended school through eighth grade. Realizing that dairy farming would be a challenge, the two decided to go in another direction and took a few carpentry classes through vo-tech that met once a week.
They went to work building backyard sheds and later shifted to constructing pole barns. “I really enjoyed that,” Daniel says. The two founded B&D Builders in 2000. By 2003, they had expanded to doing renovation work that involved timber framing and custom millwork. Five years later, the Great Recession began to create havoc in the building industry. However, B&D Builders was able to weather the storm thanks to a new client in Chesapeake City, Maryland. Horse enthusiasts, John and Leslie Malone, were looking to expand and upgrade Riveredge Farm. “They had a creative vision but were open to new approaches,” Daniel explains. The project would involve combining two barns to create one that included stalls for 28 horses. As Mrs. Malone is involved in dressage competitions, an indoor arena would be needed. Mr. Malone’s interest in breeding required separate facilities. Plans also called for the eventual addition of offices and residential accommodations. The initial project encompassed four years. Since then, B&D has returned to Maryland to carry out other projects and inspect all buildings on a biannual basis.
The Malones so loved working with B&D Builders that they have contracted with the company to oversee projects at their properties in Vancouver, British Columbia, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and Wyoming. “We’ve never had so much fun,” John Malone shared on a video that can be seen on B&D’s website. So, what’s it like to work with such high-profile clients as the Malones? “Because we’ve spent so much time with the Malones over the years, we’ve come to think of them as family,” Daniel says.
Working on all-encompassing projects such as Riveredge Farm convinced Daniel and Ben that B&D needed to be self-sufficient. As a result, they developed five subsidiaries they call “brand partners.” Mid-Atlantic Timberframes specializes in Old World craftsmanship that dovetails with CNC technology. Mid-Atlantic Steel Fabrication creates metal gates, fencing and railings. Vintage Millwork & Restoration creates/restores doors, windows, cupolas and other architectural elements. Vintage Wood & Forged Iron sources reclaimed wood and vintage hardware to create unique flooring and architectural accents. Blackwood Equestrian Stalls melds precision craftsmanship with high-quality materials to create top-of-the-line horse stalls. “There’s a synergy among the businesses,” Daniel notes.
The fact that B&D is a one-stop shop played perfectly into the project that’s seen here. Located in Chester County, the property dates to 1789 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was once the home of Owen J. Roberts, an associate justice of the Supreme Court (1930-45). Erik Kolar, who grew up in the area and appreciated the property for its natural beauty, history and proximity to metro areas, and his wife, Christine, purchased it in 2007. A year later, they began working with architect Doug Mancuso of Period Architecture to build an addition on the farmhouse (circa 1789). “The place was pretty much a mess,” Erik recalls. “The orchard had fallen into disrepair. I think in all, we had to have work done on 350 trees.” Restoring and enlarging the house was a three-year process. “By the time that was finished, we were exhausted,” he shares.
However, Erik also had designs on the bank barn that dates to 1873. “That was a mess, too,” he explains. “It smelled old and musty. Stuff that was put in there over the years had deteriorated.” Initially, the Kolars contemplated transforming the barn into a home for Erik’s aging father. Following his death in late 2018, Erik wondered if the barn could serve as the “glue” that would hold him and his seven siblings and their families together. Hence, Erik envisioned transforming it into a party barn that would accommodate family gatherings and other events.
“When COVID kept me home, Christine suggested that I get the barn project going,” he says. So, Erik contacted Doug Mancuso and said he was ready to move on the project. But who could bring the project to life? Mancuso put a call into B&D. “I had talked to some people about the project, but when I met Daniel, I was done,” Erik says of their meeting in late 2019. Erik had an ambitious “must-have” list that included multiple seating areas, a guest suite, a full kitchen, fireplaces, a game room, a bar, rest rooms and an outdoor-living area. The list didn’t faze Daniel until he learned that the project needed to be completed by Christmas 2020, as Erik and Christine wanted to have a family party on Christmas Eve.
Of course, by March of 2020, the nation had shut down due to COVID. While B&D had lost valuable time, Daniel and Ben were convinced they could still meet the deadline. B&D went to work in July. “It was intense!” Daniel recalls. The project presented its share of challenges including incorporating plumbing, electricity and mechanicals into a building that once sheltered dairy cows. “It also had to be fully insulated,” Daniel notes.
In looking back, Daniel maintains that because B&D could rely on its brand partners to create everything in-house and bypass supply-chain issues, the project could stay on track. “If we had to rely on subs, it never would have been finished on time. It probably would have taken another year to complete. As it was, we finished up on Christmas Eve.”
While the barn, which was built of Chester County fieldstone, was in decent shape from a foundation perspective, time had taken its toll. A new cedar-shake roof had to be installed. Two layers of floorboards inside the barn were removed, remilled and reinstalled. Windows and doors had to be created. A kitchen and bar had to be built. Beams needed to be restored or replaced. All the stone needed to be repointed. A chimney needed to be built.
Then, there was what Daniel calls the “fun stuff” that truly brings the unique factor to a project. “Our metal shop made all the chandeliers,” he notes. Elements such as the cupola and pergola were made in-house, as well. The unique wine cellar was crafted from Jim Beam whiskey barrels, while the metalwork was created by B&D craftsmen. Horse stalls provided the foundation for rest rooms.
Outdoors, the barnyard was repurposed to serve as an outdoor-living area, complete with a fire pit, heated flooring and a pergola created by B&D.
Erik calls the experience of working with B&D “incredible,” as he relished the opportunity to work with “amazing people” who proved to be artists, craftsmen and problem solvers all rolled into one. “We’d sit in the field and brainstorm – the guys from B&D were always on-board to come up with new ideas. The fact that they were always excited about finding solutions was gratifying. The results speak for themselves – the beauty of it is in its simplicity.”
When it was completed, architect Doug Mancuso was also beyond impressed. “The new elements don’t stand out,” he noted in a Q/A that appears on B&D’s website. “They look like they were always there.”
B&D also continues to work on a project that perfectly meshes with the company’s abilities – The Star Barn, which was moved from Middletown and relocated to Stone Gables Estate in Elizabethtown, and the growing village that surrounds it. Daniel says it has been a privilege and honor for B&D to bring owners David and Tierney Abel’s vision to life and create a venue that honors the past but plays a modern role in celebrating life’s momentous events. According to a blog entry on B&D’s website, the project holds “a special place in the hearts of B&D Builders employees due to the fact that they played an integral part of saving a piece of history.”
“I learned about B&D through a friend in Virginia – B&D worked on a barn for him,” David Abel recalls. “I was impressed.” David contacted Daniel Glick and the rest is history. Currently, B&D is working with the Abels to restore some smaller buildings that have been moved to Stone Gables Estate, as well as a barn that dates to 1812. “We’re also working on a limestone barn and are getting ready to do work on a gristmill and a stone chapel,” he explains. “I’ve never seen that level of craftsmanship and it takes that level to work on the buildings we have here,” David notes, using words such as “incredible” and “phenomenal” to describe the talents and work ethic of the company’s employees. “Most of all, they listen to my ideas and do everything in their power to make them happen. If you can dream it, they can do it and believe me, I can dream!” he says. The company will also be assisting the Abels to rebuild the historic Belmont Barn that will house the National Christmas Center. “That’s probably another year-and-a-half off,” David says.
In the meantime, Daniel is counting his blessings and shares that the company is “very fortunate to have good clients and good employees.” Projects are currently taking them as far away from home as Florida, Idaho and North Carolina. “Idaho was a huge stretch for us,” says Daniel, who recently returned from a visit to the ultimate in horse country, Louisville, Kentucky. “We’d like to do more local projects,” Daniel says.
As for employees, like every other business in Lancaster County, help wanted signs are posted along the road in front of B&D Builders. “We could use a lot more employees,” says Daniel, who considers a job with B&D to be a huge opportunity for someone who loves the creative aspects of working with wood and has an appreciation for Old World craftsmanship. “We like to take green 18-year-olds and train them ourselves,” he notes. “But they must be willing to work – we put in an average of 55 hours a week.”
As we wrap up our conversation, Daniel notes the time. “Just in time to catch my car-pool,” he says of his transportation home. As I leave the building, I notice a line of “car-pool” vehicles waiting for their riders. Only in Lancaster County!
For more information, visit banddbuilders.com.