The Forestry Forum is sponsored in part by:

iDRY Vacuum Kilns


Forestry Forum
Sponsored by:


TimberKing Sawmills



Toll Free 1-800-582-0470

LogRite Tools



Norwood Industries Inc.


Sawmill & Woodlot Magazine



Your source for Portable Sawmills, Edgers, Resaws, Sharpeners, Setters, Bandsaw Blades and Sawmill Parts

EZ Boardwalk Sawmills. More Saw For Less Money!

STIHLDealers.com sponsored by Northeast STIHL


Woodland Sawmills

Peterson Swingmills

 KASCO SharpTech WoodMaxx Blades

Turbosawmill

Sawmill Exchange

Michigan Firewood, your BRUTE FORCE Authorized Dealer

FARMA


Council Tool

Baker Products

ECHO-Bearcat

iDRY Wood Lumber Vacuum Drying for everyon




Author Topic: Thinking of starting a firewood business  (Read 2257 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline matariki

  • member
  • *
  • Posts: 21
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Tararua district, New Zealand
  • Gender: Female
    • Share Post
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2018, 06:39:13 PM »
And thats at 250/cd.  At 150/cd its working for free some days.  Ill try to take some pictures later and throw a few more thoughts up to help you Matariki.  Only you will know what really suits your unique life, but i can critique my own layout and maybe you can gain some ideas on whats good and bad about it.  

Every business will go down the wrong road a few times then backtrack and take the other turn.  The less time you spend backtracking the more time you spend in the revenue generating side.  Thats a lot better than generating capital depreciation.  Deductions are worthless without revenue to apply them to.
I would appreciate seeing your layout. It will give me a good insight on setup and execution. 

Offline woodshax

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 66
  • Age: 56
  • Location: Granbury Tx
  • Gender: Male
  • I'm new!
    • Share Post
    • Outdoor Vending Solutions
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2018, 07:48:07 AM »
I am always looking to "fill the hole"......in this case it is translated into  "find the niche".....what is the under served market or scarce product and how can I differentiate myself from the pack....  Is it city folk without access, campers who don't want to leave the wilderness in search of wood, do I make my product "premium"......Like kiln dried?, heat treated?.....below 20% moisture?  all oak?  You have to build loyalty and a brand to break away from the others...and then ultimately charge more (or make it up on volume) and make more.

Offline Leigh Family Farm

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 738
  • Age: 37
  • Location: South Eastern Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Male
  • Live life the way you want. You only get one.
    • Share Post
    • Isagenix
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2018, 10:59:59 AM »
I would highly suggest you start small using only the money you can afford to lose completely. In the beginning, focus on marketing a good quality product with reliable service. Then grow as you gain customers, market shares, and capital. Here is what I would do in your shoes:

Purchase a chainsaw, a used box log splitter, 5 Gallon bucket, and plastic wrap. To me a box log splitter is the ones that make the uniform squared pieces that many bundlers sell.   You already own a ute and trailer so use them to haul rounds to your place. Don't worry about a winch or other equipment for now. 

Next, I would call all the tree service companies in a 10km radius. See what they do with their tree tops, smaller logs, etc. Offer to pick them up weekly. The key here is to be consistent in your pickups. Don't take on too many tree companies that you can't handle them. 

Then, I would reach out to every orchard in 20km. Particularly, apple, cherry, and peaches (or whatever sweet fruits grow in NZ). Offer to come and take away all of their prunings, limbs, and rounds they have. 

Then, I would begin processing the firewood for drying. Keep the fruit wood separate from the other wood you get. Start marketing your firewood online. You can easily offer bundled wood to the city dwellers & cord wood to the home owners. The fruit wood is used by smokers and bbq'ers. Find local clubs or stores looking for a good source of fruit wood. Offer it to them in 2L portions (or whatever small paper grocery bag size you can get) and add a commission for referrals. 

This all take very low start up, allows you to grow a business as you can, and you can create your profitable niche market. Again this is what I would do in your situation. Good luck! 
There are no problems; only solutions we haven't found yet.

Online rjwoelk

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 878
  • Age: 62
  • Location: lumsden sask. canada
  • Gender: Male
    • Share Post
    • countrysidefirewood
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2018, 11:13:14 AM »
I am from sask canada out in the prairies. So my wood is costing me x $a cord delivered plus processing so i have 2 tractors and a processor . Log deck. Min bulk bag holders.
So when you add up all your costs and pay yourself 20 a cord or rather some one to help you. You need to still make a profit. The profit line is how much can you sell above cost. My customers all come to pickup i have lost maybe a couple of orders becuse of it. But a 30 min haul into the city Need a truck and trailer equiped with crane to off to off load a bag, add comercial insurance and liability insurance. It would mean 30 to 50 $ more a bag. Not happen. Small bags will be the most labour but gain you the most proffit. We sell ours for 15$ but they weigh the same as 2 bags from the corner store. I have a fellow who buys a cord at a time and the bags from us. We let him use the packer.  He gets to double his money.and we make our proffit on the larger  bags.
Lt15 palax wood processor,3020 JD 7120 CIH 36x72 hay shed for workshop coop tractor with a duetz for power plant

Offline mike_belben

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 3753
  • Location: Middle TN
  • Pulp Friction
    • Share Post
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2018, 11:46:55 PM »
Those are all good points to consider above.  I have been slacking on getting pics up but meanwhile watch this vid and pay attention to their method. 




 Obviously they are big time, as big as firewood gets and no expenses spared on equipment.  They could be running an autocycling processor and a lot less laborers.  But instead they are splitting pieces in half then sending to another line to split further, plus a lot of hand sorts to pull out the junk.  

 And that is my point, no forest produces 100% good wood.  It is a gradient from standing compost to prime veneer and everything in between, but a firewood processor will just churn it all up the conveyor and your customer may not appreciate punky mushroomy ant infested black wood.  So guys with wood processing machines have to dedicate more time finding "good processor wood" to feed in if they want a nice end product to come out.  A person manually splitting can separate the good and bad pieces with little overhead but at a much slower production rate and with infinitely more exertion. 

Sorts are a major component of the labor world.  Whether you are a scrapyard, a logger, a sawmill, a recycling center, whatever.  Sorting stuff by grade is a common theme in business.  Your premium product brings best money, but if you dilute it with a percentage of junk its brings the whole pile down.  Scrappers and loggers learn this fast when one or two pieces downgrade a whole truckload.  You may get away with selling junky firewood for good money a few times but itll catch up and cost you.  To get best money per unit, sort your stuff into a few piles.  Prime, medium and junky wood.  If youll be making bundles it should be the nicest sidegrain wood you can procure because the package is small enough for severe scrutiny.  I ask customers over the phone what they prefer.  Nice wood for $ or 2nds for less? 

  I burn the junkyest and buggiest stuff that comes off the splitter myself and give quite a bit to my neighbor.  I also have stuff so junky it goes right to the bonfire pile before splitting.  That is one issue with taking free wood dropoffs. You get it all, good bad and ugly.  Then you have to do something with the stuff you cant sell.  Can you push it over a hill or burn it at your place? Will your neighbors and zoning laws tolerate constant smoke billowing over the fence? Do you have a woodstove?


Revelation 3:20

Offline woodshax

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 66
  • Age: 56
  • Location: Granbury Tx
  • Gender: Male
  • I'm new!
    • Share Post
    • Outdoor Vending Solutions
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2018, 07:57:38 AM »
All good points....start small...find the under served market with the best profit (by the stick works perfectly for us) and invest the profits back into better processing equipment and reducing touch time.   We invested in the retail end first and just buying in bulk from local wood guys....then in building better bagging and bundling equipment and now starting to work on the processing end

Offline mike_belben

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 3753
  • Location: Middle TN
  • Pulp Friction
    • Share Post
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2018, 08:15:18 AM »
 woodshax, i agree that is probably her best chance at a successful start too, since she doesnt have the equipment for whole tree hauling.  Buy bulk firewood in summer from some other processor who sells it as a byproduct of logging, tree removal, land clearing etc.. Then package down and target the highest paying small consumer during peak heating season.  The current social climate of gender wars may also favor a woman operated firewood business, since it is historically a boys club.  She could capitalize on the free publicity pretty easily.  

Does new zealand have state forests that require heat treated wood?  That seems to be a slam dunk for bundles here in the states. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline TKehl

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 1118
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Sedalia, MO
  • Gender: Male
  • Certified Contrarian
    • Share Post
    • Kehlhof Ranch
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2018, 01:41:22 PM »
Really depends on your market.

There's a lot of people around me that sell firewood for beer or Christmas money.  Many farmers allow dead stuff to be cut free as long as brush is stacked.  $100-150 will buy as many cords delivered as a person wants.  (True cords not face cords, 4x4x8, bush cords as told up north. ;))  As such profit is SLIM!  As such cutting labor requirements cheaply is key.

Equipment list:
Truck
1 chainsaw
manual splitting maul

The process:  
Find dead standing timber, cut, split, load on truck where the log sits.  Unload from truck to customers yard.  Tell customer it's "seasoned Oak".  (Being dead helped, and it probably seasoned a little on the drive over, and they probably don't know what kind of wood it is.)

Upgrades:
Hydraulic splitter
Second chainsaw
Trailer
Winch

I do try to keep extra on hand for sale.  Process is about the same, but I load directly into a trailer.  (I have a small fleet of truck bed trailers I use.  Old trucks chopped in half with a tounge welded to the frame.  Paid around $100-150 each for them.)  There is no rush to take a low offer to unload the truck that weekend since it's on the trailer.  I can just hook up and go when someone wants wood delivered and they see the volume, size, quality up front.  I'm also up front that it's standing dead and what species(es) it is (they are).  I burn the junkiest stuff and "odds and ends" (stuff that doesn't stack well) in my own stove.  It can sit on the trailer til sold at my price or I use it in my parents or my own stove.  Either way works for me.   ;D

The best way to start would be to make use of your own product and expand from there.   ;D
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline Pclem

  • Full Member x2
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Age: 45
  • Location: Fall Creek, Wisconsin
  • Gender: Male
    • Share Post
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #28 on: October 03, 2018, 06:27:24 PM »
My wife and I have been selling firewood for 10 years as a business. (The last 5 full time). Had close to 40 stores selling packaged wood to, but no more. The numbers look good until you spend the time culling,packaging,and running around delivering. We still sell 5-600 bundles a week in the summer to a couple state parks, which is pretty good. We've had a handful of homeowners every year word of mouth, but since last fall we've been getting after more with craigslist, facebook, and a website. After doing the commercial gig for a few years, we believe homeowners are more profitable. We just set ourselves apart from everyone, and produce a premium product and charge what we have to get. We find most people have been burned by too many firewood guys and just want good wood, and professional service. There is always a place for "regular heating wood" with alot of people, but they are not our customers. I would highly recommend producing premium dry fireplace wood and charge what you need. Don't worry about what everyone else gets. Plenty of people want professionals and are happy to pay. We are 3 times average firewood prices around here, but don't produce "average wood". If you go this route, people on cl and fb need to see pics. We wouldn't have most of our customers if they didn't see how good our wood looked first. Good luck matariki
Dyna SC16. powersplit. supersplitter. firewood kilns.bobcat T190. ford 4000 with forwarding trailer. a bunch of saws, and a question on my sanity for walking away from a steady paycheck

Offline Corley5

  • Senior Member x2
  • *****
  • Posts: 7988
  • Age: 49
  • Location: Wolverine, Michigan USA
  • Gender: Male
  • Wolverine, Michigan
    • Share Post
    • Whittaker Farms
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #29 on: October 03, 2018, 08:45:12 PM »
How much room do you have to store wood while it's seasoning?  Seasoning wood to sell ties up money and space.
Burnt Gunpowder is the Smell Of Freedom

Offline KEC

  • member
  • *
  • Posts: 26
  • Gender: Male
  • I'm new!
    • Share Post
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #30 on: October 03, 2018, 11:32:22 PM »
When I was selling firewood, I learned to find a market for "low grade" stuff; either low heat value wood or odd shaped stuff. Usually these were people with Outdoor Wood Burners or people who want cheap heat. Price was reduced, but I sold all my wood. I was always amazed that some  people want to call just as winter sets in and want top shelf dry wood and think they can get it at a price that will save a lot of money on the heating bill. When you get a customer who will accept some imperfect wood you can sometimes customize the way you cut it; maybe they want some bigger pieces and it will help you too. Always find a market for the ugly stuff.

Offline Ianab

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 12822
  • Age: 56
  • Location: Stratford , New Zealand
  • Gender: Male
  • Marmite on toast is a real breakfast
    • Share Post
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #31 on: October 04, 2018, 02:32:19 AM »
Thing I find with "ugly" or less desirable species, is that near the end of winter, people get a lot less fussy  :D 

"Is it dry?" and "When can you deliver?" become the major considerations, not the size, shape or exact species. 

Now if Matariki can find a source of wood, has a vehicle, trailer, chainsaw and a decent 2nd hand wood splitter, then it's possible to make a few dollars. Especially if you are prepared to wait nine months, just call your stack of firewood money in the bank. It will sell when people run short in winter. 

The 2nd hand splitter I also recommend, because if you find it's too much work for the return, you can sell it again, and get most of your money back. A decent chainsaw is an investment, and will last for years if you are just doing part time firewood with it, or just cutting for yourself and family.  

A big thing is finding contacts that have unwanted trees. A friend of mine has bought an old neglected property, with various trees that are overgrown and basically need to go. Some blew over in the wind, a logger friend dropped some hazard ones, and excavator driver dropped some more while clearing track and fence lines. 
"You can have them, and borrow the tractor to help move them" All I have to do is tidy up afterwards (Throw the brush in a burn pile). This mess is just pine, but 2-3ft dia trees. Pine is considered decent firewood here, not premium $$, but the most common wood, so you have no trouble selling it. 
This will be different to what the Americans are used to as "woodlands" as such are not common in NZ. There is "native forest", "plantation forest" and random hedges and trees on farms. So you might find your wood supply is an old hedge of Leighton Green cypress, or a big Eucalyptus that's blown over in a storm, or left over tops and reject logs from a small logging job. Either way, get in there, block it up and haul it home. Split and stack, and wait for the cold weather.



Bagged firewood is a market, but the marketing isn't so easy. Supermarket and gas stations all sell it, but they will be tied up with a large supplier that's selling kiln dried pine offcuts etc. So people must be buying it, and at about 5X the going bulk rate. Don't know why, they would be better off buying $5 of electricity. rather than $10 of bagged firewood. 
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline woodshax

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 66
  • Age: 56
  • Location: Granbury Tx
  • Gender: Male
  • I'm new!
    • Share Post
    • Outdoor Vending Solutions
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #32 on: October 04, 2018, 08:02:17 AM »
Bagged and bundled wood......Lots of opinions..... I don't think a lot of the customers who buy are looking to save money on electricity...it is more of the ambiance of having a crackling fire on a cold night or a campfire.....if you go camping, a campfire is a must.  I am always pleasantly surprised that in the dead of summer here in Texas when the night time low is 84F I will still sell $1000 worth of bags in a weekend.   Selling bags and bundles whole sale to C-stores or to the Parks is not where the money is....especially if you are responsible for "shrinkage" due to unattended piles.  You provide the wood, the work and the delivery and get  $2.50 to $3 for a .75 cuft bundle and they double the price.  The big processors who supply make it up it volume....I am strictly retail and don't have to worry about shrinkage so the pure profit is $600 a true cord.

Offline curved-wood

  • Full Member x2
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
  • Location: lochaber, south-west quebec
  • Gender: Male
    • Share Post
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #33 on: October 04, 2018, 09:28:24 AM »
I have few guys that are in the firewood business that buy my slab and edging. It seems that their customers like a bit of starting wood mix in. Probably some firewood business would buy finely split softwood in small packaging to satisfy customers. May be that is an avenue that does not require a big capital investment in inventory and equipment for starting. May be a chain saw and a trailer. One of the guy even cut the slab here ; not even dirt at home ! It is shure that the basic does apply in any business starting that is: What is your current market ? Why  a customer will be your product ? (because of cost, quality, service, availability, etc ) What is the profit margin ? How easy competition could get in ? Capital investment ? and many other factors. At least put some numbers and estimate the cost even point.

Offline ppine

  • Full Member x2
  • ***
  • Posts: 171
  • Age: 68
  • Location: Northern Nevada
  • Gender: Male
  • I'm new!
    • Share Post
Re: Thinking of starting a firewood business
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2018, 11:28:47 AM »
There are lots of wood cutters out there.  A lot of them do not answer phone calls, do not show up and are undependable.  If you run your woodcutting business like a business person you will have more customers than you can handle.   It is definitely a seasonal business and it takes some discipline to stay busy in the spring and early summer.  You can do it.  Be a business person and you can take over your local market. 
Forester


Share via delicious Share via digg Share via facebook Share via linkedin Share via pinterest Share via reddit Share via stumble Share via tumblr Share via twitter

xx
Thinking of starting a new business.

Started by DR_Buck on Sawmills and Milling

6 Replies
858 Views
Last post November 19, 2012, 08:33:06 PM
by kelLOGg
xx
thinking about starting a bundled firewood buisness

Started by skinnyest on Firewood and Wood Heating

6 Replies
1783 Views
Last post April 19, 2014, 05:59:50 AM
by CRThomas
xx
14 questions for Starting a firewood business

Started by Frank T on Firewood and Wood Heating

9 Replies
7369 Views
Last post October 26, 2014, 08:42:16 AM
by NWP
xx
Thinking of starting

Started by Candlex on Ask The Forester

30 Replies
2541 Views
Last post September 02, 2017, 07:38:36 AM
by 50 Acre Jim
 


Powered by EzPortal