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Posted on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 : 7:08 a.m.

New home for Brewer's & Sakstrup's towing takes shape in former 84 Lumber building on South State Street in Ann Arbor

By Dan Meisler


A lumber warehouse that dates back to 1972 on South State Street in Pittsfield Township will become the new home of two Ann Arbor towing companies after an extensive renovation set to start this week.

Dennis Brewer, who owns both Brewer's Towing and Sakstrup's Towing, said he hopes to complete the project - which has received all necessary township approvals - by the end of the year.

The refurbished building of nearly 25,000 square feet will house both companies' dispatchers, offices and repair shops, and will also allow most of their combined fleet of 40 vehicles to park inside overnight.

"We're full-steam ahead," Brewer said. "I hope we're done at year's end."

He said the plan is to take down everything but the steel structure and footings, including the roof. The property was previously an 84 Lumber yard, which closed in 2008.

"We're trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," Brewer said.


Brewer's Towing owner Dennis Brewer gets hands on as he removes electrical conduit screwed into steel support posts on the interior of his new and under construction facility located at 5600 S. State St.  Melanie Maxwell |

An LLC owned by Brewer purchased the 8 acres of land less than a mile south of the Ann Arbor Airport in 1998 for $931,000, according to state and township records. At the time, Brewer was facing the possibility of being forced to move Sakstrup's operations from its location on Carpenter Road. The owner of that property was planning to build a strip mall.

That project has yet to come to fruition, but Brewer is going through with the relocation.

A 9,000-square-foot building on the South State Street property will also be renovated, although Brewer said at this point that's extra space and he may seek a tenant to lease it out.

Other functions at the new facility will be fabrication, vehicle washing and fueling.

"It's going to become our world headquarters," Brewer said.

Equipment and employees from the companies' locations on Carpenter Road and Packard Road will move to State Street. The Plymouth Road service station and repair shop will continue to operate.

A building permit on file with the Pittsfield Township building department states the value of the improvements is just more than $800,000. The contractor is Corrigan Construction.

Brewer's has been in business for 47 years, and employs about 65, including those working under the Sakstrup's name. Brewer said the willingness of local banks to finance the project was gratifying.

He added that the soft economy has affected the company, but the consolidation will provide it the ability to either grow or contract as needed.

"It could give us some growth opportunities," Brewer said. "It's going to give us room to do whatever we need to do."

Six other former 84 Lumber yards around the state have apparently not found buyers. Auctions of properties in Adrian, Flint, Gladwin, Fremont, Lansing and Battle Creek are scheduled for Oct. 5 and 6.

Freelance reporter Dan Meisler can be reached at



Thu, Sep 17, 2009 : 7:39 a.m.

Congratulations to Dennis Brewer.