The family-owned operation was started over 75 years ago with the Marks family ranching and milling rough lumber as an extra source of income to support their cattle business.
It was in the late 1980s when Steve and his wife Laura constructed a new sawmill, heralding the latest chapter of Marks Lumber as a full-time production mill. In the following decades, the Marks continued to introduce innovative additions as they scaled the company.
These include the addition of a planer mill to provide many additional specialty products in 1998, a biofuel powered dry-kiln to improve product quality in 2005, and a full timber frame, 4400 sq foot office and showroom in 2008.
Listen in as Steve discusses how Marks Lumber continues to thrive as a timber products business while staying committed to improved forest health. He attributes a great deal of his success, especially as the business entered the 2010s and beyond, to his willingness to surround himself with young, talented people.
Steve also addresses some common concerns surrounding the logging industry, particularly when it comes to how prices will continue to be affected in today’s struggling economy. He and Ted also chime in on the hotly-debated topic of harvesting timber from old-growth forests.
- [01:59] The story of Marks Lumber and Steve’s definition of good forestry
- [10:09] The business of forest management
- [15:40] Steve’s dedication to hiring great people
- [25:51] Life and business lessons learned from tough moments
- [33:04] Lumber prices in the near future
- [37:59] Steve’s most valuable experience in business
- [45:22] Ted and Steve’s thoughts on old-growth forests
- [51:55] Marks Lumber’s most popular specialty wood product
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Key Quotes from Episode
- Good forestry means taking good care of our forests: We have to thin them and take care of the defects such as bugs and open the canopy up to let the trees capture and sequester carbon. Stagnant and unhealthy forests don’t do that as well.
- There is a segment of the population that doesn’t think a private company should be able to get a product off the forest and make a dollar. How you manage forests without turning a profit is beyond me. It doesn’t work.
- None of us in the successful world would be anywhere without the people who are underneath us.
- We don’t own this ground. We just get to take care of it for a while.
About Marks Lumber
Steve Marks is the owner and operator of Marks Lumber in Clancy, Montana. Since 1988, Steve and his wife Larua have continually operated and evolved Marks Lumber, creating a successful and innovative business that has persevered through difficult and volatile times in the industry. Steve is passionate about the timber products industry and advocating for Montana businesses, active forest management, and fire mitigation. As someone who has worked in the woods for the past 45 years, Steve has seen the benefits of active forest management first-hand and understands the importance of educating the public on what happens on the ground of the forest.
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