Dan Nye has always had a love of nature and an affinity for building.
He took these loves and turned them into a career in lumber.
“I started saw-milling over 17 years ago,” Nye says. “It started small, with just a few chainsaws, but it definitely grew.”
By the age of 15, Nye spent hours on his woodworking projects. He soon discovered the challenges such as difficulty obtaining, shipping and paying for supplies.
Nye says pricing can easily get out of hand, especially when shipping large wood slabs.
“I was like, ‘I got to figure out a way to produce this stuff myself,’” Nye says. “That was kind of the rabbit hole that we went down.”
The rabbit hole led to Dan’s Custom Sawmill company.
“It took off pretty fast,” Nye says. “You get 12 slabs or 14 slabs out of one tree, so we had a lot to sell pretty quickly.”
Together with his wife Ashley and 2-year-old son Jack, Nye creates one-of-a-kind pieces for customers.
“We take a lot of time on the lumber we produce,” Nye says. “All the wood we cut now ages and sits for at least a year and a half to two years before it even goes into one of our kilns to dry.”
Nye says the drying process gives the wood a lot more color and preserves its natural beauty. “That’s what sets us apart, I guess. It’s all for the love of wood here.”
Dan’s Custom Sawmill offers a wide range of creations, from dining room tables to countertops. Nye prides himself on custom creations for his clientele.
“My favorite thing is getting somebody’s idea and even if it sounds crazy, kinda making it come true,” Nye says. “Sometimes people come in with an idea, and we’ll talk with them for a while to mold it into a better idea.”
One of the most rewarding feelings Nye gets from the business is seeing what the customers do with their product.
“The thing about wood is one person looks at it a certain way, and another person looks at it in a completely different way,” Nye says. “It’s just awesome to see what they create.”
Nye focuses on creating a variety of unique and quality products.
“We look for wood that has the brightest craziest colors,” Nye says. “We cut wood that you wouldn’t normally see in lumber form.”
Nye says he wants to provide woodworkers with an opportunity to work with something different.
“There’s always something crazy here either coming out of our kilns or coming out of our shop or building a project,” Nye says. “We just have lots of wood that people normally don’t get the chance to work with.”
Nye prefers to consult with customers by appointment only to ensure that they get the best product for their project.
“Some people think that doing it by appointment means that it’ll be expensive, but it’s not,” Nye says. “The price range here is made so we can find something for anybody.”
Some customers have completely redone their projects with wood from Nye’s sawmill because they preferred the look of Nye’s product.
“That’s really why we do this,” Nye says. “We have to provide the coolest thing possible.”
Nye says he hopes to continue to grow his sawmill business in the future.
“I would like to get bigger, but I don’t want to be like a corporate company or anything like that,” Nye says. “I like the small mom and pop feel.”
A top priority for Nye is talking to customers one on one. Of course, running a business means more than just creating the product and focusing on customer relationships.
“We cut our own logs; we kiln dry, we build furniture, we do our own maintenance and marketing,” Nye says. “Everything is always broken, of course, so there’s always something that needs to be fixed.”
Nye says that finding a balance for all of his responsibilities is the hardest part of his job, especially with the business’s natural difficulties.
“Some things are just more prosperous at certain times of the year compared to other times,” Nye says. “Like, we don’t have a whole lot of logs coming in in the winter, so we tailor to woodworking or just material sales.”
Nye says he likes to spend his spare time working on unique projects.
Current projects include an all-wooden camper and a full-scale medieval catapult.
“I like doing stuff that’s weird and crazy, and I like big scale stuff,” Nye says. “If I can build something, I’m happy.”
Nye’s passion for his work is clear in how he cares for his product and, even more, his care for the customers.
“It’s a labor of love,” Nye says. “You gotta love what you do in something like this ‘cause it’s just so much work.”