Darcie Burroughs escaped the craziness of New York City life for the peaceful backwoods of the Adirondack Park before it reached peak pandemic-era coolness. “Every time I came up here it was just so chill and quiet,” the New Jersey native says of Edinburg, the northern Saratoga County/southern Adirondack Park town where her long-distance boyfriend, Mark, who worked for a commercial contractor, lived. “So I decided to make the move. At the time I was working for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit and my boss—this was pre-COVID—worked it out that I could work remotely, which was sweet.”
Five years later in July 2020, as the rest of the city was planning their mass migration upstate, Darcie cut ties with NYC for good. Mark, whom by then she’d married, owned a sawmilling side gig, and the couple decided to strike out on their own with Steel Pines, a now-thriving custom construction and sawmill business. Mark serves as contractor and sawmill guru, and Darcie mans the books, marketing and social media. “It’s nice to give back to where you’re living and keep everything local,” says Mark, who grew up in Glenville. “Working on the commercial end for 18 years, no one cares where you’re getting your wood from. You could order it from Mexico, and they’re like, ‘Whatever—just get it there on time.’ But with Steel Pines, we use local, natural resources. We’ll go take trees from a client’s land, bring it back to our mill, and build their house from it.”
That process is what Mark and Darcie call “from tree to home.” To make it happen, a logging company comes in, clears a client’s lot, and brings the usable wood directly to Steel Pines. Mark then uses his sawmill to cut the logs into slabs of any size, dry them, and then utilize them in the construction of the client’s home. “The idea is to keep our footprint small, which is what we love about those types of projects,” Darcie says. “It’s like how a hunter wants to—hopefully—use all of the deer. They’re going to eat the heart and they’re going to skin the hide and they’re going to freeze everything.” That hunter analogy also applies to the way the Burroughs actually mill their wood: Any bad cuts of wood are used to make lumber drying racks or to heat their or their neighbor’s home.
Of course, some Steel Pines clients don’t own an entire wooded lot, or need an entire house built. These customers can still expect their project—whether it’s a live-edge mantelpiece or beam-work renovation—to be completed with local wood; 85 percent of the logs that Steel Pines uses come from within a 50-mile radius of the Burroughs’ home. “We do a lot with local loggers and tree guys,” Mark says. “It keeps everybody close and keeps the money flowing around here.” It also helped keep the money flowing into Steel Pines last summer, which saw lumber prices reach historic highs. When big box stores and lumber yards hiked up their prices due to an increase in demand, the Burroughs saw a bump in sales for rough-cut lumber from their community, as they were able to offer a local product for a better price.
“There’s so much heart and soul behind these residential builds because the money is coming from homeowners’ pocketbooks, not a commercial corporation,” Darcie says. “Our work is a showpiece for them to talk about and tell the story: ‘This came from here.’”