After a Devastating Fire, ‘the Black Lumberjack’ Forges Ahead

While he now has a staff of four, his business began as a one-man show.

“Mount Vernon is a predominantly black neighborhood, and with black culture, sometimes the strangest things earn you a nickname, so the people became familiar with me and started calling me ‘the black lumberjack,’” Mr. Rising said.

The nickname initially was a concern, but when Mr. Rising realized he could market it, he bought the domain, printed the web address on shirts and hired an artist to paint the name on a shipping container in the yard he works out of in Hartsdale, northeast of Yonkers.

The yard, at least for now, has been Mr. Rising’s makeshift work space since Jan. 30, when a fire tore through the warehouse where his shop was. The warehouse was part of the Alexander Smith and Sons Carpet Mills complex, which housed workshops for artists, woodworkers and cabinet makers.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, according to the Yonkers Fire Department, but the automatic sprinkler turned on after nearly 100 firefighters had extinguished the flames, leaving four feet of water in Mr. Rising’s shop, which held thousands of dollars worth of machinery.


A Skilsaw on the floor of the temporary shop. Since the fire, Mr. Rising and his staff have had to use hand tools for many jobs that were formerly done by heavy machinery in his old workshop.

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

“I was kind of in shock when it first happened,” Mr. Rising said.

Still, he said he was looking at this rebuilding stage as just another challenge.

Mr. Rising is using the shipping container with a hole cut in the back for ventilation, and a 2,000-square foot greenhouse in his yard — with no heat or electricity — as home base for him and his…

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