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Author Topic: Are We Customers?  (Read 3675 times)

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Offline Cedarman

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Are We Customers?
« on: May 14, 2015, 10:20:50 AM »
Are sawmills that buy logs customers?  What do loggers think they are?  I know some of you are loggers, some of you are both loggers and buyers of logs and sawmillers.
The Story:
Very part time logger of cedar brings in a load of small old cedar.  Some of the bigger cedar has lain in the weeds so long the sapwood has turned doughty.  I look at the load and say the sapwood is gone and we will have to just measure the red.  He is fine with that.  I ask where the big logs went to.  He said he was just helping a guy clean up a logging site and that the big cedars were sold several years ago.  I know where they came from and know that I did not receive the big logs.  So I decline the load and tell him to sell the small stuff where the big stuff was sold.  He told me the mill didn't want the little stuff.  I told him that I would not subsidize another mill so that they could buy the big logs and us take the little stuff and junk.  I will either buy all the logs including small and junk or none at all.  He was a little miffed.  But understood where I was coming from.  Took the load and left.
At the moment I am awash in cedar with more coming in all the time.
In the position as buyer, am I not a customer?  Some loggers think I should buy what ever they bring in, when ever they bring it.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2015, 12:37:57 PM »
It's your money, you get to set the rules.  I've seen log yards that didn't have rules.  They get junk dumped on them. 

By the same token, when a customer walks into a wood yard, they should also have the respect to not have junk dumped on them.  I've seen it work that way, too.  That's good 'nuff or they won't know the difference is not a way to treat your lumber customers.
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Offline Cedarman

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2015, 01:49:47 PM »
Quite often I do not handle the order or help load the truck or trailer when people pick up.  But I always ask whoever loaded and handled the customer if they were happy with the product.  If there is ever a problem or question, I am on it immediately.  Rarely have to do that though. 
I just think that many loggers do think of sawmills as customers.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Klicker

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2015, 01:54:34 PM »
If you are paying for a product or service you are a customer.
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Offline justallan1

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2015, 04:28:42 PM »
Although I don't buy logs I feel offering a lower price would be an easy solution, but not needing them I can certainly see why you would send him on his way. By him telling you that the other mill didn't want them and that the logs have been on the ground for 3 years says to me that he's trying to get money any way he can and there's a good chance that he will haggle, if it's even worth it to you to mess with at all.

Offline red oaks lumber

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2015, 06:33:02 PM »
if i don't get a shot at the chicken food don't expect me to buy in on the poop :)sometimes the loggers need reminding of just because we buy wood dosen't mean we have to put up with being a dumping zone.
the experts think i do things wrong
 over 18 million b.f. processed and 7341 happy customers i disagree

Offline drobertson

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2015, 07:14:02 PM »
being a small operator, I fully understand what you described, You by no means are small, and will say I see my fair share of junk from loggers that want to dump a load that other mills culled.  As you did I have turned some away, while at times have bought it.. We are most definitely customers in this regard, the issue for small outfits like me is take what I can get and use, and bite the bullet when it's poor.  Which seems like quite often. 
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2015, 07:46:16 PM »
I see this from all sides in that I run a mill, in that we run our own harvest operation and sell logs to other mills as well as our own, and that we also buy in logs off others.

As logging contractors we often sell the best of the logs on, either to veneer buyers or other mills. Being the best of the logs I charge a premium for them and the deal is really simple - if you dont want to pay the premium you either (a) buy off someone else or (b) take a lower average grade of log. You ain't getting the cream of whats available for the same price as you'd get the average and thats just how it is. But maybe next week I'll need the sale a little more and my price will drop, or maybe I'll need the logs in the millyard and the price will go up.

As far as buying logs into the mill from other loggers goes I run the same basic principle. I'll pay more for good logs then for average logs because I can make more from them. I'll pay less for someone elses culls. I personally have no problem whatsoever with buying another mills culls provided I can do so at a price that still enables me to make money from them. While I'd love to never have to buy low grade logs sometimes I have orders that suit them, or sometimes I have orders for a species that I can't source through our own harvesting operations and I take what I can get. So long as I can land them in my yard at a price that enables profitable milling I really don't care what they are, where they've come from, or who else has rejected them. Why should I? I'm here to make money and so is the seller, and we both of us have a right to say "no deal". Maybe next time we will deal: I might need the logs more and be prepared to pay more for the same grade, or he might be in a position of having to take less for them.

Sure you're a customer. But that only makes you one half of a completed sale, because a completed sale requires a buyer and a seller, and both have to come to the party. being a customer gives you a right to say "no deal"... but you aren't the only one with that right. As with most commodities logs are subject to the laws of supply and demand and the price fluctuates accordingly. Next week when that same logger has good logs he might not approach you at all either. Personally I've found that taking the occasional load of ordinary logs to help a guy out - provided I've paid what they're worth - has often resulted in further sales of good logs from the same guy. Loyalty works that way, and while business is still business for the most part I think that what goes around comes around.
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Offline ellmoe

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2015, 09:12:01 PM »
  I'm with cedarman. I work with loggers as I can, not all tracts "are cherry". I'll take low grade logs others may not, but I expect some consideration on the better stuff. We buy tree length here, usually by the ton. I had a young logger offer a load of cherry to me and we agreed on a price. When he came in with a small load of short logs it was obvious the butts had be removed and he was selling me the tops. I explained to him what that meant to me and why the butt cut was more valuable than the top. We  worked though it, he learned a little more about the business and we will both benefit in the future.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2015, 09:26:47 PM »
Our standard was that if a tree length log was cut into two pieces, both pieces had to be on the truck. 
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Offline 54Dutchman

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2015, 09:48:42 PM »
Cedarman, I am a customer of yours, could not be happier with the product you supplied!  That is the law of supply and demand. ;)
In fact I am tickled pink!  8) 8) 8) 8)

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2015, 06:11:22 AM »
I have heard of some selling the butt logs,than trying to sell the rest to a big sawmill. They was asked not to come back again.
I use to sell logs. All logs went to one mill. Some might just try to see what you will buy. Some know what will make a log and just don't care,as long as they can get it by ya.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2015, 07:45:35 AM »
Locally it would be VERY unusual for all the logs from the same tree to end up at the same mill.

Reason is that the mill that's chasing the premium clear wood market can pay maybe 6X what the low grade logs are worth. Obviously they don't want the junk  and small logs. Where the pulp and firewood market wont want to pay the value of the good logs when they are making low grade products. In between there is the export log market which fluctuates. and various grades of saw logs that have different values to different buyers.

So to maximise the return most of the loggers will be grading the logs on the landing, and making up truck loads to go to various destinations. As a mill, if you want better quality logs, you pay more for the upper grades, and less for the low grade. The market soon sorts itself out.

The logger has a pretty exact idea of what each buyer is looking for, so no one sends a truck load of junk to a mill that's doing premium products. They have already said they don't want that, wont be paying for it. The firewood yard down the road however will pay ~$40 a ton, so it goes there.

It's a bit like when you go to the butchery, you don't have to buy buy the whole cow. Some pay extra for the fillet steaks, others are on a budget and buy the stewing and mince. If you are making hamburgers, you don't pay for the fancy stuff. Let the 5 star restaurant pay for that.

But the mill is still the loggers customer. They are bidding on that particular grade of log. In Cedarman's case, he declined to make an offer on the load of junk logs, because he didn't particularly want or need them. If he did want them, he could also have said, "Those a pretty low grade, I can only pay X% the usual rate for stuff like that."
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2015, 07:57:36 AM »
Good loggers in my area will sell to different markets, depending on the material they have.  If you sell all your logs to one mill, that mill will turn around and sell the veneer instead of cutting it.  Why shouldn't the logger sell to whichever market gives the best price?

The big mills in my area don't want veneer, and they don't want low grade.  Smaller mills can use the low grade, especially if they are tied to a pallet mill or are cutting ties.  Prices reflect what they're paying.  The low prices keep that kind of material out of the log pile.

You want the big logs, then you have to pay the market.  If you want only big logs, then you have to pay a premium.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2015, 08:30:44 AM »
I'd say you are neither or both. You are a business associate. Seems you need to do what's best for business.

We had a couple loggers that would show up on occasion with a load of stuff akin to what cedarman describes. I'd go out to sake it and give them a frowed brow look, and they would say "Its a clean up job"  Sometimes I'd scale it, more times it went on down the road to I don't care. It makes no sense to buy something that costs you to process. You get enough of that is a decent load of logs.  We knew that if a log was under 10" on the small end, it cost money to saw. It cost even more money to try and sort them out.

I learned over the years the true meaning of "clean up job"  in Loggerese. It actually means "NO one else wants them"
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Offline Cedarman

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2015, 06:13:18 PM »
One of the reasons I buy 2" to 4" logs (posts, saplings or whatever you want to call them) is that I have periodic markets that take large quantities at a time. Usually full truck loads. Another of the reasons I take these  small logs is to give an outlet for the small scale logger whose capital investment is a chainsaw and pickup to entice them to bring all the wood to us. 
With hardwood mills, the focus is on pallet logs, tie logs, grade logs or veneer logs.  It is not in their interest to focus on all 4 at once.
We are a single species mill that can cater to all those that want cedar.
I don't know of another mill within 100 miles that will buy 5" and down cedar.
What I have done is give the logger an opportunity to sell more wood.  They can leave all the 5" and less in the woods and maybe get a nickel more at another mill or they can sell all of it to us.  Just about every cedar tree has 3 or 4" log at the top.  Takes about 30 to 45 seconds to limb that extra 8'.  No extra time pulling the tree to the landing.  Bucking and loading time is less than a minute.  A good logger will put a pencil to it and see if makes sense to spend time and effort on the extra wood.
Whether they cut the small wood or not is irrelevant.  As the customer for the loggers logs, I get to set the rules for how and what I will buy.  And, as all sawmillers know, the rules do change as the log piles rise and fall over the years.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2015, 06:50:00 PM »
Cedarman, if you can make money on these pecker poles more power to you.
I am retired and hobby only and would starve if I depended on the mill to make a living.
Because I would rather saw than market the product and it shows on my bottom line..
I saw almost exclusively Hemlock and have gotten burned on bad logs but still maintain a good relationship with my suppliers.
Caveat Emptor let the buyer beware regarding logs of any stripe.
However how do you process thee 3 and 4 inch logs for a profit?
Do you cut posts or try to saw them?
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2015, 08:46:14 PM »
I did not mean to say I really only sold to one miil. I cut mostly white pine on my land. Not much veener came off my land.  :( There was some hardwood,but not much.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2015, 10:15:26 PM »
If we priced for the whole tree, we expected to get the whole tree.  If you creamed off the butt logs and brought us the rest for the same price as we quoted you for the whole tree, you were cheating us.  Cheating your customer is not a long term successful strategy.
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Offline ellmoe

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Re: Are We Customers?
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2015, 06:49:54 AM »
X2
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