It's a family affair . . . Since 1978, Brent Cole has always loved working in the woods. Back then it was
in Wisconsin. Times were changing! The family's turkey farm was sold and he had to make a decision. He spent some time in
Montana working in the oil fields and logging. But life in Montana wasn't very exciting with its lagging economy.
Annette and Brent.
Subsistence fishing on
Prince of Wales Island.
"I could have stayed in Eastern Montana and become a farm ranch hand, earning $600 a month, plus a mobile home to live in and a beef a year, but it sounded like a dead end to me," recalled Brent. Having farmed in Wisconsin, he was familiar with the long hours, little pay, and no appreciation for such hard work.
He knew a guy from the oil patch that lived in Thorne Bay, Alaska and decided to check it out. Together with his wife, Annette, and their three small children, they headed to Prince of Wales Island. Their intention was to open a taxidermy shop, but after a year, it didn't work out. So Brent found work at Phoenix Logging where he drove truck, fueled and serviced equipment. He also did some carpentry, mainly framing. Working with wood was gratifying.
Winter food supply.
In the woods again.
The logging industry was slowing down considerably. In order to stay with his employer, he would have to be away from his family, living in camps for six months at a time.
Brent had other ideas!
"Our back yard is our only source of supply.
We cater to custom builders"
In 1988, Brent was introduced to retiring Duane Dixon who lived in Craig. He had a business called The Spruce Shop which processed music-wood. He showed Brent that he could make a living supplying luthiers with guitar tops. Then in 1995, "Bob West was cutting blocks and I asked him a little about it. The guy he supplied needed more than Bob could provide and I knew where there was some wood," Brent reminisced.
That idea planted the seed that has grown into AlaskaSpecialty Woods
View from Brent's Home Office.
Big Salt and the surrounding mountains of Prince of Wales Island
Today, Brent Cole feels happy and blessed to live in an area where he has the opportunity to carve a livelihood from resources that are native to this geographic local. Being able to use wood that would normally rot or decay in the forest, Brent salvages it and knows that in the end process, it will bring music to the world.
What started out as a one chain saw operation back in 1995 has now progressed to plans for a new factory with the installation of their fourth band saw, just as soon as the new 40 x 70, two story facility is built. It will house vertical saws and finishing operations upstairs with the band mill on the first floor. Together, he and his family will continue to bring the finest tone-wood products from the forests of Southeast Alaska.
Craig, Alaska, Boat Harbor.
Gathering the highest quality wood from the forest.
The main objective of Alaska Specialty Woods is to supply Luthiers, manufacturers and builders of acoustic instruments, with high quality sound board material, also referred to as Tone Wood. The wood is found, acquisitioned, purchased and harvested in an environmentally friendly way.
Brent concludes, "What I like most about this business is that it's a family thing. The kids and I go out in the forest, find,
cut and pack out the billets. Besides, I like working with wood. We're a small, dedicated business supplying a very high quality product at very reasonable prices. It goes from the woods to you!"
Darren Hippner flamencas.
Taking a well deserved nap.
For some, the nine to five routine keeps them going for a lifetime. The fast pace, the need to survive in the asphalt jungle drives individuals. But for some folks, the peaceful serenity of a quite world, steeped in nature, calls them to grow their roots in tune with nature, as life was intended. Some dream of working in the open outdoors. Others make their dreams reality, taking care of
the land and the land which will take care of you; making a contribution to the world in a friendly way. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it!
What sets us apart?
Alaska Specialty Woods
is proud to offer a varied line
of ecologically sound wood products.
Our products are processed from woods
of reclaimed or salvaged sources. Our main objective of our production
is high quality tone wood.
When you buy products from Alaska Specialty Woods,
you're not just sourcing the finest woods available.
You're casting a dollar vote for sustainable forestry,
and are making use of wood that would otherwise go to waste.
You're helping conserve forests through responsible wood use.Our back yard is our only source of supply.
Southeast Alaska includes the 16,000,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest.