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The Hustle

Name: Mark James (Bear Creek Custom Timber)

Posted By Bill DeYoung

Fallen and cut trees in the bay area community have one thing in common - upon removal, they're often destined for the landfill, incinerator or mulch pile. Mark James' Bear Creek Timber has a different plan - the pine, oak and other locally-sourced woods are used to create heirloom live edge slab furniture, epoxy river tables and one-of-a-kind home decor as well as custom acoustic guitars and 5-string banjos. A longtime professional woodworker, Mark began Bear Creek Timber in 2004. "Every tree has a story to tell," he says. "You just have to look for it."

Years in Tampa Bay


Hustle (job)

Owner/logger/sawyer at Bear Creek Custom Timber

What do you do?  

We take locally harvested trees and turn them into one-of-a-kind natural edge home decor items and stringed instruments

Why do you do it?

Trying to create a sustainable furniture business that is a better alternative to the big box stores

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

After working in the professional world for over 27 years as an Environmental Health and Safety Supervisor, the business was sold and moved to Asia. At age 58 I found myself without a job and decided to take my hobby to the next level and make it my full time job.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

Folks think that you can just cut down a tree and build something from it right away. Unfortunately it takes years before the wood is dry enough to make something from.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Helping folks understand that a one-of-a-kind piece is a much higher quality item than something that’s imported into the U.S. and sold at a big box store.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Slower is faster

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