Our Wood Story . . .
Read about how we became Alaska Specialty Woods.
In the winter of 1996, with only a chainsaw and some other borrowed tools, Brent Sr. embarked on his first job with his two sons, Brent Jr. and Ryan, providing wholesale block to a soundboard producer. The first month was late winter 1996, and month of hard labor to cut, split, and pack in backpacks, out of the forest. The paycheck for 1 cord [2- pallets stacked 4' high]. Was $142.
1997/1998- Brent Sr. hand-split blocks and billets for sale to end product users (builders who like cutting their own tops), as well as primary breakdown and wholesale block to other tonewood producers.
1999- ASW’s First major transaction was the purchase of a 1967 Peterbuilt log truck equipped with a 10,000 lb self-loader as well as the first two salvage timber sales. Brent used the truck to deliver wood from ASW’s first USFS timber sale contract, along with a pile of bridge stringers from Sealaska Corp. which yielded our ‘Black Bear Creek Ultra-light’ sort, still in our product line today.
1999- Bridge stringers at Upper Staney Creek from the USFS and a log bridge pile from Sealaska timber at Black Bear Ck. To process the material we purchased a small 20" Grizzly band saw and the production of sound boards started, but it was slow.
2000 Purchase of a 1970 Kenworth tractor, mounted with a 20,000 lb. Ramey log loader on the tractor frame. Wood plank 4'-8’ was salvaged and the first shop floor and drying room was framed and decked. This truck has been the lifeline for ASW’s material acquisitions, to this day.
2001- We made our first appearance as ASW at the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL) Convention to meet new customers and promote our products. Since then we have attended multiple GAL (Guild of American Luthiers), ASIA (Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans) and NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) conventions, which has helped promote our policies and products. Feel free to find us when we’re there.
2002- 3 Phase power installation allows ASW to produce higher quality and quantity of soundboard products with the 42" Industrial bandsaw purchased in 2001 for increased soundboard production.
2002- ASW purchased property for our own sort yard to categorize whole logs by species and grade as well as to separate figured logs. The property has since served as the log sort yard and primary breakdown location for supplying ASW and fulfilling wholesale block contracts.
2003, ASW purchased a TimberJack Log Skidder with a 20,000 lb. winch for logging our microsale contracts. This combined with the log truck, allow us to yard larger logs at further distances, which creates more prospective salvage opportunities.
2002- 2010- ASW is operated in 2 divisions, processing over 120,000 bdft of large diameter sitka log. One is the wholesale block division/crew producing 1- 20' high cube container of block for guitar top production per month to another processor. The second division cutting and producing finished sound-board products that is shipped to thousands of customers in 75 countries around the world.
2005- Brent Cole Jr is instated as a director in ASW.
In 2007, we purchased a six year old factory building from Alaska Pacific Logging Co. to engineer and transform into a high production soundboard manufacturing facility.
2007- Ryan Cole is instated as a director of ASW.
2008- Brent Jr. and Ryan dismantle the 60' x 80' steel building and bundle it up for hauling to our property and await construction.
2009- Alaska Specialty Woods had taken hold of a world-wide market and could finally generate enough revenue to be an entirely family owned and operated business. Within that year, Brent’s wife, Annette, resigned her 20-year supervising position to immerse herself in ASW and has since become an invaluable asset to the company. Because of her administrative knowledge, we were able to purchase a new site for ASW’s manufacturing facility as well as countless other improvements.
2009- Breaking ground for the factory construction. We start the New Factory Project excavating 12,000 yards of mud, rock and dirt from our mountain-side property, developing a building pad for our total 15,500 sq. ft. building plan.
June 2009 - Shelikof fly. First helicopter sale. After two years of prospecting, documenting and flagging windfalls and dead standing Sitka Spruce and Red Cedar trees, ASW was ready for their first heli-logged Micro sale.
2011- Three large log-float decks, from the 1960-80s Gildersleeve logging camps, were purchased from a private seller, creating an much more extensive inventory of salvage old-growth Sitka Spruce.
2011 most of the wholesale block program has ceased as we move toward full production of only finished soundboard products.
2012 the footings for the factory is poured and construction begins. It took 3 full years to develop and engineer the property and the building.
2012- During the excavation process we unearthed the world renowned Ancient Sitka Spruce, a tree that had been buried over 2,800 years ago. This unbelievable find, has brought new life to ASW and new and exciting possibilities to the luthier world.
2014 -Brent Jr and Ryan are appointed as Officers of ASW. After they both earned their B.A., Brent JR. and Ryan felt that their passion and career was with ASW and have continued to be integral to the company.
May of 2014- Our factory was finally finished and the first soundboard was cut in our new facility. After 15 years of operation, we had moved from our original 20 feet by 40 feet lean-to shed into a new, two-story, 60 feet by 120 feet building, with over 15,000 square feet of dry space.
2015- ASW at full production. With multiple bandsaws, ten-fold the drying space and now and extensive inventory, ASW has everything to meet your very specific needs.
2017- ASW purchased a log shovel which will minimize labor efforts in the field of acquisitions and allows for better management of the log sort yard and raw material.
What started out as a one chain saw operation in 1997 has now progressed to a World-class soundboard manufacturer and custom shop. Yet we remain a small, dedicated, family business supplying high-quality products at very reasonable prices. We at Alaska Specialty Woods wish to sustain our beautiful home, both locally and globally. With your help, we will continue to bring the finest tone-wood products from the forests of Southeast Alaska. It goes from the woods to you!"
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 tonewood.
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.
Spread the Word!!
If you know others who need Sitka Spruce Tonewood share our site with them and help spread the word about Alaska Specialty Woods.