Founded in 2016 by Certified Arborist and Urban Forester Mike Barger, with his daughter, Jenny (Barger) Kwiecien, and son, Joe Barger, Live Edge Detroit has taken off to become the next phase of the Barger family business. In 2017 the team added their first full-time employee, James Meek, to the crew. Today the team has grown to include 3 additional team members: John Kwiecien, Hartley Combs and Max Kwiecien. Get to know each of the Live Edge Detroit team members through their bios below...
Jenny (Barger) Kwiecien
Co-Founder, Director of Sales & Marketing
Jenny began her career in Marketing and Advertising at 19 years old. After 3 corporate internships with General Motors she transitioned out of Automotive and went to work for Starz Home Entertainment, where she successfully helped to launch two new brands for their Kids & Family division. Within a few years she landed a role in publishing for PEOPLE Magazine. Jenny worked at PEOPLE until August 2016, when she left to pursue her love of world travel and - of course - work alongside her family to launch Live Edge Detroit.
Jenny runs the Sales & Marketing for Live Edge Detroit, as well as oversees day-to-day operations.
When she's not at work, Jenny can be found relaxing at home with her husband John and their three dogs... listening to country music and most likely, indulging in their semi-serious pizza addiction.
Co-Founder & Business Forecasting Specialist
Coincidentally, Joe also grew up with the same tree-loving father figure as Jenny! He studied Forestry and Business at Michigan State, with a specialization in Entrepreneurship. After college, Joe's career took him into the business world where he gained extensive experience in Sales, Marketing & Finance across various industries. It wasn't until he moved to California in 2012 that Joe really discovered his passion for building wooden furniture.
With his knowledge of the urban wood industry on the West Coast, Joe helped Mike and Jenny develop a business plan for launching Live Edge Detroit in Michigan.
Although remote for now, Joe continues to support the business in various facets, including creation of his one-of-a-kind live edge furniture, made with Live Edge Detroit's locally salvaged urban slabs. Joe's West Coast business operates out of LA, under the name Urban Reserved.
Co-Founder, Live Edge Detroit
Certified Arborist & Urban Forester
Past President & Founder, Mike's Tree Surgeons
Past President, ReLeaf Michigan
Mike Barger grew up in Royal Oak, and graduated from Michigan Tech University with a degree in Urban Forestry. After college, he worked for the City of Southfield before starting his own tree care company (Mike's Tree Surgeons) in 1984. Mike and his wife, Denise, have two kids, Jenny & Joe, who have both followed in his entrepreneurial footsteps.
Mike has always had a keen interest in environmental conservation and sustainability. A few years ago he acted on a dream he's always had for the business: Salvaging the high quality logs and milling them into new usable material for craftsmen and DIY'ers. In 2016 Mike and his kids decided to put some power behind marketing the dry wood... and here we are today!
When Mike is not working you can likely find him in the woods... hunting, fishing or napping in nature.
Sales Manager, Maker and Sawyer
James Meek spent his first 15 years after undergrad working for the public school system as an Athletic Trainer and Assistant Athletic Director. His appreciation for nature and trees began at an early age while traveling the National Parks with his family. Woodworking has been a passion and creative outlet for James since 2001.
“Making the transition from the public to the private sector was definitely a big step for me. Ultimately, it was Live Edge Detroit’s vision of salvaging lumber that would have been waste and giving it new life, that enticed me. It aligns perfectly with my creative philosophy.” - James Meek
James considers himself a lifelong novice woodworker… as he says there are always new things to learn and perfect. He lives in Berkley with his wife Brenda and dog Mae. He is a live music fan and he is known for always having some music playing whether at home or in the workshop.
Business Development Lead
John Kwiecien spent the earlier part of his career in the retail sector, as a sales rep for Gallo Wines. After a few years in this role, he jumped at an opportunity to open his own retail store in downtown Plymouth, which he called Trader Jack's. Filled with energy and magic, Trader Jack's was the place to go for the latest trading cards, sports memorabilia and even to meet some of Detroit's most well-respected athletes during in-store appearances. John ran Trader Jack's for 12 successful years, before switching gears to help out a couple friends in the Commercial Photography business.
For the next 15 years, John worked alongside some of the most talented photographers in Detroit, helping them coordinate photoshoots around the world. It was through a photoshoot for Carhartt that John would ultimately meet Jenny (his now wife) and become part of the Live Edge Detroit family.
John has a deep appreciation for architecture and design - specifically Mid-Century Modernism - and music history. In his downtime, he can be found tinkering in the garage or grilling up a feast for family & friends.
Assistant Maker & Sawyer
Hartley Combs’ calling has been in the creatives since he was a child. His pursuit of the arts would eventually bring him to the College for Creative Studies to study illustration. It was during his time as CCS that he unearthed his passion for woodworking and metal fabrication.
“Woodworking doesn’t allow much wiggle room when you’re attempting to create something utilitarian and worthwhile. I like that. Whereas, so much of our modern world is about immediate satisfaction and gratification, woodworking demands and rewards patience.” - Hartley Combs
Hartley is also a member of the management team over at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale. A job position which exposed him to Live Edge Detroit in the first place!
Max Kwiecien grew up in the Plymouth/Canton area and is a 6-year Veteran of the United States Army and a former Detroit police officer.
Max has always had a passion for nature and the outdoors - and recently discovered a newfound love for trees and woodworking through Live Edge Detroit!
When Max is not at work, he is can be found hanging out with his 1 year old Pitbull, Luna, and pursuing his passion for physical fitness.