Demolition Man: Lee Danley

Lee Danley grew up building things until he realized he'd rather tear them down.

Lee Danley Grew Up building things – until he realized he'd rather tear them down. Now Danley and his crew, Danley Demolition, have landed a show on National Geographic TV

Like so many up-and-coming stars in the age of the Internet, Danley and his crew were discovered on YouTube. After someone from Leftfield Pictures saw a video of Danley Demolition – a business run out of Fremont by Danley and his wife, Rita, who is the company's president – in action, the concept for "Bid & Destroy" was born. The show will track every step of the demolition process, from acquiring a job right down to the last swing of the wrecking ball. "I think our viewers will be happy to see something a little different than the average reality show out there," Danley says of the show, which will premiere on the National Geographic Channel sometime this fall. "They'll see all the excitement of buildings getting crushed down to nothing by our excavators." Better grab your hard hat.

You had a big break before being found on YouTube. What happened? 
Five years ago, we were taking down a Bickford's Restaurant in Nashua when Brian Gurry, from the show "American Builder," stopped in. He had been watching us and thought other people would find us fun to watch too. I have always known this, of course, thanks to the countless people who watch us for hours on end. But shortly thereafter we were featured on Gurry's show.

Are you at all nervous about being on national television? 
At first, it was definitely nerve-wracking. It's been a challenge and a bit of an adjustment. One of the guys in my crew doesn't even like to have his picture taken, let alone be on film. However, we are all really trying to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime, fun and exciting opportunity.

Reality TV is known for its drama – is there much scandal in the demolition business? 
I wouldn't necessarily call it drama, but there are definitely a few tense moments in demolition. Sometimes it's as simple as whether we are going to make money that day or lose money.

What's the most impressive demolition you've done? 
Probably the tear down of the McCain's French Fry factory in Presque Isle, Maine. This was an 11-acre metal building all under one roof – you could really get lost inside the complex if you weren't paying attention. I would guess that it's among the largest demolition projects in New England.

Are there any New Hampshire structures you'd love to get your hands on? 
I love any structure with a story [but] that can't be salvaged: old hotels, mills, any building with character. The more history, the better. I almost always save a piece of the buildings. I love them all. Some are in need of demolition, and it's a crime to tear some down. But I believe that's called progress …

We have to ask: Is it a major power trip to be behind the wrecking ball? 
Every demo guy is different when it comes to the power trip. For me, it's not about power. The job is a blast. Talk about stress release!

Web Extra: Interview with Rita Danley

What's a typical day like for you? What goes along with being president of Danley Demolition?
I handle everything from A to Z at the office. My job encompasses answering phones, permitting jobs and truck destinations, managing insurance, accounting, payroll, taxes, audits and fielding problems from both the employees and clients when they arise. This makes for a very busy day, each day, as president of Danley Demolition.

What made you decide to switch careers and become involved with Danley Demolition?
My husband and I have always been involved in our own business in one way or another. Although we started with his construction company and knew how build structures, we have found that it is much easier to knock them down leaving no punch list to go back to.

What was your first reaction when you learned "Bid & Destroy" was being made?
I was very excited to hear that National Geographic was interested in featuring our company and creating Bid and Destroy. We have worked very hard to bring the demolition reputation up to a respectable level and now we can actually show it.

Do you have a favorite demolition that the crew has done? Any special memories from your time with Danley Demo?
I think my favorite demolition project was one that we did on Martha's Vineyard. We had to load all the trucks and equipment onto the ferry and had to plan our debris removal according to the ferry schedule. By the time we were finished with the demolition project, a hurricane was starting to blow through. Our operator and his excavator were stranded on the island for a few days before we could get them off.

Finally, what's it like working so closely with your husband?
We work well together. We can both agree to disagree and can back each other up when we encounter a problem. Two heads are better than one in most cases. We both know our own strengths and weaknesses and use them accordingly.

Categories: Q&A