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Urban Milling Co. focuses on lumber from Galesburg IL, plans to expand


GALESBURG — What started as a hobby just four years ago has turned into a Galesburg business dedicated to preservation and recycling of urban lumber.

Urban Milling Co. is the creation of Justin McNaught, a longtime city of Galesburg employee and for the past 10 years the city’s traffic division supervisor.

But more than a side business, Urban Milling Co. has developed into a passion of McNaught, who grew up in East Galesburg and is a 2001 graduate of Knoxville High School. 

“I picked up sawmilling as a hobby back in 2018,” McNaught said. “As word-of-mouth spread that ‘Justin had a sawmill’ I found myself doing a lot of favors and side jobs for others.

“As the potentiality of this hobby turned to that of a business, my wife, Elvith Santoyo-McNaught, and I decided to build a new business out of it. That’s when Urban Milling Co. came into play in 2021.”

McNaught is proud to point out all of the lumber he uses is collected locally in Galesburg, however Urban Milling’s services range within a 50-mile radius of Galesburg.

Justin McNaught of Galesburg carefully prepares a log for cutting on his portable mill on Thursday, March 31. He owns and operates Urban Milling Co.

A passion for trees

“Trees are a natural resource that continue to give, even after being cut down,” McNaught. “I love the concept of preserving and recycling a tree, and knowing that it will continue to provide in a different way. It is such a rewarding job. You literally get to be the first person to see what the inside of that particular tree looks like.

“The labor is intense, but definitely worth the effort.” 

McNaught took the time to further explain Urban Milling Co. in a Q&A with The Register-Mail.

What kind of services do you offer? 

McNaught: At Urban Milling Co. we provide live edge boards and slabs from local trees, fresh and/ or dried. We offer portable sawmilling service and we will offer on-premise services once we have a permanent location for the business. The best part is that we can travel to you and mill your fallen trees/ logs into beautiful, usable lumber. 

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Urban Milling Co. also offers lumber products for purchase. Again, live edge boards and slabs from 5-plus different species are currently available, and we hope to expand those with time. I have crafted various sizes of furniture and tables, including large dining tables, for customers and although I do not offer that service widely at the moment, I hope to also expand this opportunity with time and space.  

Urban Milling work to be featured in new Galesburg Public Library

Justin McNaught from Urban Milling Co. harvests one of the trees that was cut down from the site of the new Galesburg Public LIbrary. McNaught is going to mill the trees to make tables for the new library.

Are you currently working on any special projects?

McNaught: We are currently working with the New Galesburg Public Library on a table project. I reached out to the director about harvesting a 100 year old oak tree that was to be removed from the new library site. I didn’t want to see this beautiful tree disposed of in another manner, so I’ll be creating reading tables from the tree to be used in the new library. 

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