Mark is a transplant from the world of high-tech and big cities. A native of New Jersey, he had moved north to work in digital phone tech support for Cisco Systems. He awoke at the crack of dawn in Lyndeborough, N.H., then he and his wife Laura traveled to Boston each day for an intense corporate experience. He remembers arriving on his first day at the job, downtown, and saying to himself, “how did I get here?”
Eventually, the commute and the atmosphere got to him, and he turned back to wood – his first love. “I just had enough of corporate stuff,” Mark says.
He had done a lot of carpentry out of high school and college, where he studied forestry. Later, Mark worked for a New Hampshire company that bought frames from S.P. Brooks, so he knew about Phil Brooks’s unique system. Then, when a job at Brooks became available in 2004, he jumped at it.
Phil Brooks, he said, has “either good vision or did a lot of research or both” in creating his one-of-a-kind cutting and milling machine, which may be the first in the industry to automate timber frame construction. “It’s a very sophisticated little operation for a home-built thing,” Mark says.
Mark calls the others at Brooks “great people,” appreciates the benefits employees receive here, and believes in the work they all do. “Everybody has input, nobody’s shoving anything down your throat. If someone has an idea, we’ll all toss it around and see which one’s the best.”
As it turns out, some of his ideas have turned out to be the “best.”
“I’m kind of proud I got them to use some hand tools down there (in the shop) they didn’t used to keep handy,” Mark says. For example, the spokeshave, a sort of curved plane that quickly cleans up and smooths curved cuts. “Sometimes the old way is the easy way.”
In his spare time, Mark enjoys the outdoors, but his real passion is wooden boats – of all kinds. When asked, he struggles to count the number he has lying around his property in various stages of refurbishment, then concludes that he possibly has nine.
“They’re like timber frames except they’re curved,” he says. “It’s a form-follows-function thing, they have to be a certain way to work, and when they do, they’re beautiful.”
Mark is living in a Brooks Post & Beam home that he designed and sited himself.
“I have a great appreciation for the amount of thought that goes into house design and its location on the landscape,” he says.
Still in the plans are a hand-hewn kitchen addition and post & beam barn.