Portland resident Don Adair, who uses discarded items to create new items to see, looks over a farm implement he created recently. “It saves a bunch of junk (from going into) the landfill,” he says. (The Commercial Review/Michelle Zeman)
Portland resident Don Adair, who uses discarded items to create new items to see, looks over a farm implement he created recently. “It saves a bunch of junk (from going into) the landfill,” he says. (The Commercial Review/Michelle Zeman)
In many cases, people throw away items that no longer work.
But Don Adair of Portland takes items that have been thrown away to create a new product and sell it.
“It’s more or less stuff we throw away if I can make stuff out of it,” said Adair.
From walking plows and tractors to chairs and trunks, Adair has made a wide variety of items on-and-off for the past 25 years.
Once he’s thought of something to create, he gets up, finds thrown-out supplies and creates it on his own.
“He comes from the old school of work,” said his wife, Harriet Adair. “You don’t waste anything.”
While Adair’s main focus is to use items that have been thrown away, another focus for him is to create a profit.
“I build to resell it, that’s what I wanted to do,” said Adair. “It saves a bunch of junk to go in the landfill.”
While he doesn’t have much coming up in terms of his work, he always has an idea in his head.
“I sit in (a) chair (in the living room) and can dream up a bunch of things,” said Adair.
His wife says he has a huge imagination and uses it.
“It’s true,” she said. “I think he’s taking a nap and he’s thinking (of something to create).”
Before he started creating these items, he made his own toys. He came from a poor family and talked about growing up with the challenge of purchasing toys.
“Growing up, we’d probably make our own wagons and we tried to make a tractor … different things like that,” said Adair. “We never had toys of our own. We had to make them.”
The first item he ever created was a birdhouse. The amount of time involved varies. Some projects take him a night while others can take as long as a week.
During the time Adair created stuff from junk, he also got into welding. He ran a lathe at Joyce-Dayton’s machine shop for about 18 years. He stopped welding because his eyesight got weaker over time.
While his eyesight is no longer strong enough to weld, that doesn’t stop him from finding items that have no longer been used to create something new and profitable.
 “Well, we can’t take pictures (of everything he creates),” said his wife. “But, that’s his way of saving money — by re-doing or making a piece of junk into something that will make him a little money.”