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Author Topic: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related  (Read 2563 times)

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Offline bigblue12v

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Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« on: October 21, 2018, 09:13:58 AM »
I think this is my first post in quite a long time. It's 7:30 am on a crisp sunday, about 30* here. In the last hour I've had two people contact me about firewood (potential new customers) and my mind never stops thinking about firewood. I'm sitting in my warm office inside my 1200 square foot humble shop while a brisket point is on the smoker to make burnt ends later today. There's going to be some rambling and open thinking on this post so if reading isn't your thing I'm sorry.


At this point, I'm 2 years anniversary today from leaving a fortune 500 company to start my own business. I'm 31 years old. Buying a house years ago that had a Central Boiler is what got me into firewood. The first year being without what I needed wood and equipment wise is what got me motivated to never let that happen again. The next two years I hustled so much firewood that I was selling as much or more than I was using myself. A couple of saws, a homemade splitter, a one ton truck and a trailer. Chasing all the free wood I could get, sometimes getting paid to drop trees and clean it up. Other times just getting notice of a tree someone had dropped and I'd go get it. I eventually started to figure out ways to make it a little easier, had a crane and tongs on one splitter, built a 4 way wedge, then got a conveyor, then a gooseneck trailer with a crane, then built a mini log skidder. Before I could really use the mini log skidder to pull firewood like intended, I accidentally got into logging, which led to deciding to get into the logging business. Enter my decision to leave my former employer.
Fast forward a couple years... Now have a Timberjack skidder, Deere CTL, Waldon compact wheel loader, single axle log truck, single axle dump truck, tri axle log truck, small firewood processor, pintle hitch trailer, skid steer trailer, Dodge 5500 crew cab flatbed with boxes, Dodge 3500 regular cab flatbed, Dodge Dakota crew cab short bed, bunch of saws, lord knows what else. This past January I added a partner because I really couldn't do everything myself in reasonable time to make everything work the way it needed. He's too good to be just an employee and this works a lot better for both of us. It keeps him invested and we pay ourselves salary so no one hurts when times are bad. When times are good we give ourself a bonus. We'd been doing the firewood on the side, he also has a Dodge 3/4 ton and a dump trailer. Don't have any idea how much firewood we did last year or previous to this season. Quite a bit for just a side gig. Pretty much all the material that gets ran through the processor is top logs procured from the harvesting of mature hardwood timber for saw logs. The wheel loader stays here at the shop with the processor to unload logs and feed them to processor. We process straight into truck or trailer and it goes straight to the customer. Firewood is grossing $150 per cord here. I charge $2 a loaded mile outside of a 10 mile radius. Yes people buy green wood here. We sell quality, consistent size, hardwood only, heavy on the oak, and the ability to deliver whatever quantity the customer needs. Am delivering to 9 different counties, most of it concentrated within just a handful. Where we're located is near the intersection of 3 different counties, so it's not quite as bizarre as it sounds. But do spend quite a bit of time driving. That's ok. This season so far we're at around 150 cords. Customers range from a campground to residential and a few smoker guys that really don't buy any volume to speak of. A face cord last them forever. But being a fellow smoker I'm happy to provide whatever species and sizes they need.
Most of the "competition" here locally is just weekend warriors with a saw and a department store splitter and a pickup truck. They don't move much volume, sell crappy wood in inconsistent sizes, it's terrible quality, they aren't in this for the long haul, some don't deliver, they'd be overwhelmed with multiple cord orders, etc.


Now,
The juicy part...
I enjoy the firewood a lot more, My partner is more into logging. I do enjoy the logging, don't get me wrong. It's just not my thing as much as firewood. I always said if i could make a living at firewood, I would rather be doing that. The logging is operated as a business should be, the business as it's own separate entity and banking, we're setup as employees/owner operators essentially. The firewood is operated under the business but we split the proceeds from it instead of it going through the business books. Starting in September, the firewood took off so crazy that we hired a skidder driver to help my partner at the woods and I basically am just doing the firewood full time, running as mechanic when needed, and hauling some logs as needed (most of our log hauling is contracted out). I've loved doing it this way. The firewood operation is at my house so this gives me some flexibility, however I work plenty of hours at it. My partner has no desire for the firewood business to be any different than it is now. Myself, I'd like to experiment with bundles, bags, kindling, setting up retail accounts with landscape supply yards in the "big towns" around us, etc. Eventually maybe have a processing facility in one of those towns where smaller in town deliveries are more economically feasible and thus affordable for the customer and profitable to me. I could even see adding a de-barker in the future, to produce better firewood and also a mulch product that is easily sold in town. Possibly even adding a kiln in the future. Whatever it leads to, I want to be ready to take it on. I get bored with the same old thing and I like growth and expansion and new opportunities.
As of this point, the firewood operation is starving for logs. When it's able to run, weather pending, the logging operation generates about a good single axle load of firewood logs per day as a by-product of harvesting the mature timber for commercial sawmill material. Lately it's been so wet that we haven't been very productive at the woods. I've been talking to other loggers and some saw mills offering to buy firewood logs but with no luck at this point. Small hand cut cable skid operations don't find it fiscally rewarding to do the extra topping work and skidding and sorting for small money. The large mechanical operations that do clear cuts have contracts with pulp mills. It's been very discouraging trying to buy logs.
At this point, I do have a loan on the Dodge 5500, the Deere CTL and the Timberjack. The business pays for the Deere and Jack. The Dodge is considered a personal vehicle. I hardly drive it.. Have thought about selling it but not sure if I have any equity in it. No sense selling it for a loss or a break even.
My partner is great, it would be hard to find anyone any better, if even possible. We do fine together and I don't mean to say that it's a stereotypical partnership full of disagreements. However there are things we don't think alike on. Such as the firewood business. At this point, I'd be interested in selling my half of the logging business to him and jumping into the firewood on my own, with the stipulation that he provide me all the firewood logs he can get, of course. I'm not convinced that would be enough but it's a good start. Perhaps I can eventually find some to buy. So I'm thinking that I need to either get into more niche specialty markets so that a cord is stretched further and brings more money, or find a way to charge and get more money for the product (season it, which means a lot of extra storage and handling). Being that this operation is at my house, I do live in a rural area, however have one neighbor that is a thorn in my side and has threatened to turn me into zoning for running a business from my house. However, she can't. Here, you're allowed to run a business from your home so long as it's not a retail location (no customers on premises). Assuming I could get a full season ahead of orders and have seasoned material, I think I could sell it for more money. There's a lot of extra handling and headaches that would come along with it, but I could sell a more premium product, do many more deliveries in a day during peak season, and not stress when there's a breakdown. The old Ford single axle dump truck is kind of a beater. Very reliable and not too bad on fuel, does a good job doing what needs done. But not the most professional looking vehicle in a nice neighborhood. Never had anyone complain about it, but that 2012 Dodge 5500 would look pretty big time delivering firewood in. It's a crew cab long wheelbase truck… 12' bed. Sure wishing it was a standard cab right now. Man it would be a cadillac of a delivery rig though…. Air conditioning, not gearbound to 55 mph, cruise control, quiet, heat that works good, good headlights, windows that don't rattle and leak, doors that shut as they should, 4wd…. Lol maybe i'm dreaming…… Its as maneuverable as the dump truck but seems the extra 3' of cab is a waste. For me to put a dump bed on it is not a great big deal but at this point it is a personal truck not a business asset. My partner is as thrifty as they come, getting him to agree to spend money on anything he does not deem absolutely necessary is pretty much impossible. Talking him into it is also nearly impossible. So I seek the thoughts and opinions of you all.. Perhaps you have some guidance for me. Maybe I should just learn to be content with the way things are now. The logging is good solid income, I simply want to do something different… a curse I've lived with my whole life, always wanting something different. It's not chasing money, just a serious yearn to learn and gain experiences. I've done landscaping, fabrication, mechanic work, sales work, delivery work, vehicle salvage and recycling, factory work, and probably a lot more i've forgotten about. If you're interested in researching demographics in my area, I'm located near Jackson, Brown and Bartholomew counties in southern Indiana, just about halfway between Louisville Kentucky and Indianapolis Indiana. I feel like the town of Columbus could support such a thing. I'm not certain that I would be able to give up all the bulk delivery customers I have now right off the get-go... In other words, I would need to continue that product for at least a while if not indefinitely. I'm not quite certain how well the area would support a bundle business, every gas station and grocery store has bundles out front. SOMEONE is supplying them, but there's often some very aged looking bundles on the rack and it's hard to imagine moving very much through those outlets. Maybe volume isn't the name of the game with bundles, I'm not sure. Perhaps it's just having a good route, drop a few at each location and keep going. I know I've read the thread on here where member CRThomas has a good bundle business but retails them for wholesale cost and sells them straight to the customer. I'm not sure if that would work around here but he seems to have it all figured out in his area for sure. I do think in town I could sell half face cords and single face cords, etc. just smaller quantities for a little more money and definitely be more reasonable on the delivery costs. Columbus is about 20 miles from me. Again, I feel like partnering up with a landscape supply place/ Nursery/Greenhouse type business might be just the ticket. I'd have to wholesale the products to them and let them retail and distribute it, but that might be perfect for them. they have space, equipment, relatively inexpensive labor, and a greatly reduced workload come firewood season. They have single axle delivery trucks, conveniently located yards, small loaders, so on and so forth. It just seems like a great add-on product that none of them have right now. I'm sure someone is going to suggest getting wood from tree services, however many of them seem to be cutting and splitting it for firewood as well, or else just have a lot of junk wood, soft maple, pin oak, etc. mixed with a lot of brush or chips as well if they were otherwise going to dump it at the city recycle center. They do have to pay a small fee to dump there, but likely not enough to offset the convenience of mixing materials in their trucks. They sure won't come all the way out here to dump, i've tried that in the past.

I'm looking for input from veteran full time firewood operators only. If you don't fit that category, I'd welcome your response, but please state that you aren't in that category so your thoughts are carefully considered. Thank you!
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband

Offline brianJ

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2018, 06:28:33 PM »
Every local market is a bit different.    For instance the local hardwood mill sells rejected logs and even cants reasonable and depending on how convenient it is to unload they sometimes provide trucking too.   

About 10% of my sales are for bonfire wood and that contains a majority of soft maple.  They just want a flame and not really about the heat.   I price accordingly.   If I did bundles thats what I use.

Your partnership......One way to do that other than dissolving it is to become a minority partner and thus leaving three or even four days to work at your firewood business.  

Last thing is no one is going to give you great advice for your exact circumstances because we dont know all your circumstances even after a long & detailed post.   But you will get a wealth of experienced opinions.   Some will fit for you and bunches will fit for other readers that might not write a reply.   

Offline hedgerow

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2018, 07:06:17 PM »
I am always surprised at the price of firewood. I haven't sold firewood in 10 years and we were getting 150 a cord for hardwood then. I am surprised you are able to pay for your equipment and pay your self. We used to only sell around 100 cord a year and the wood was coming off my land so I wasn't buying the logs. Around this area no one buys green wood so a lot of handling went on.  It was taking too much time and not enough return for me to stay in it. Now days just getting the 15 cord a burn a year is tough. Good luck on the firewood business hope it all works out. 

Offline bigblue12v

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2018, 08:20:52 PM »
Thanks for the replies so far guys
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2018, 01:05:15 AM »
Theres a member on here thats got his local bundle market sewn up tight and i think he is in indiana also.. Busybeaver maybe?  He had chronicled his operation thoroughly on here, search that out.  

I made a junkwood fired kiln out of well..
... junk i had and it would get green wood burnable in two days.  I posted a thread on it in the drying forum, dont remember the name but if you try to clone it use steel around the heat pipe, not wood. Once i got the rocket style burner efficient it became a red hot fire hazard and will ignite wood thats a foot away so i parked it.


Bundles was a total flop for me.  Test the waters with a 4" handheld shrink wrapper and a bucket with the bottom cut out for a bundle cincher.  Dont blow 2grand on a power wrapper if they arent gonna sell.


In my experience the average rural hardwood stand is completely unmanaged and overstocked with trash wood needing to go.  Ive been in a lot of private owned woods..  Thousands of acres.  Ive been on one parcel ever that culled pulp/FW grade junk to grow prime sawlogs and it was a miraculous thing.  I think for a stable log supply you need to find CLOSE parcels to home for your convenience, and offer to do precommercial thin/timber stand improvement in exchange for the cull logs.  Thats basically what im gearing towards, just dont have all my ducks in a row to start. (And havent finished culling my own yet either)  In decades to come i aim to log lands i have managed for prime sawlog, where i already put in the trails and landing etc to suit my needs.  Your miniskidder is ideal to target culls below a certain diameter limit without making full on skidder mess.  For bigger stuff you could make a log arch or trailer with deadheader and haul cut to length instead of tree length and still keep a 4wheeler sized trail.  I think damage and ruts is the number 1 thing that a landowner is turned off by.  The smaller the machine the less invasive it appears to a lot of them.

Reach out to all the homebuilders and lot developers in your area.  I have gotten several free heaping 30ft goosenecks of tree length loaded on free just by being there to haul it off when they were piling.  Ive also gotten a few loads from clearing blowdowns which was not feasible on a take it for free basis.  If it paid $20/hr to cover expenses id have cut until he said go away.  I can sell semi green wood (if its oak that'll burn) but i cant give it away in summer, so spending fuel money i didnt have to get wood in spring and wait half a year to recoup it just wasnt good for me.

You may also consider putting an empty trailer at a tree or land clearing company and have them call you when its full.  Sort of like dumpster rolloff service.  


Revelation 3:20

Offline woodshax

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2018, 08:29:00 AM »
Big Blue,

All we do is bags and bundles at retail prices.  For us, State parks were the lowest hanging fruit and I have 25 parks and growing.  Last year we sold about $170,000 doing it this way.  Right at $85,000 in profit.....the margin would be higher if I invested in the processing part of the operation but I have concentrated in the bagging, bundling and sales portion first to prove the business model.

From my point of view....wholesaling to C stores is tough......you sell for $2.50 and they double the price......some even make you eat the shrinkage which seems to increase the closer you get to a city.... so you really have to have a lot of locations to have the routes pay off.

The State park season is counter cyclical to the home burning season....Spring and Fall......but you would be surprised how much wood we sell in Texas, in the summer when the night time low is 82 degrees....but spring and fall are obviously the busiest times.......here, the parks stay open all year and I would assume that in Indiana they close for a couple of months in the dead of winter but that allows for the residential sales to take priority.

My parks were "all sewed up" when I started....with them buying pallets of bundles from the large producers.....but I was able to talk one park into trying us out and now I have parks calling that I just can't find responsible and dependable people in the industry to supply them with a consistent and quality product.

The key was showing them the man hours required to provide firewood to campers compared to the profit.   In most cases they would have to pick up the pallets (to reduce costs) then cover and protect the pallets, and have Rangers keep the sales area filled.....and then either lock that area up to reduce theft....but that reduced sales to when the main office or camp store was open.......The demand for firewood is very inelastic..... If you need another bundle at 11 PM and there is no easy way to get it.....the fire dies and the potential sale dies with it.   If you keep the area unlocked with an "honor Box" then there is a lot of theft.....I now have one large park whose firewood operation was managed by the friends group and they kept very good records......their average shrinkage rate was 23% and then on a holiday weekend someone cut the locks off all the boxes and got over $2000 in cash (their yearly profit).......We went in and now they make more than twice what they used to each year with far less work.   The Juice just was not worth the squeeze and Park Rangers and Camp hosts can now spend their time making their parks better instead of humping wood.

My model......The park gets 10% of the gross (before taxes)...20% if they fill the machines..... We provide the machines and the bagged wood....never run out, have the product available 24/7 and have no theft.  I get a captive customer base and no competition inside the park.

I know the main concessionaire for the Indiana state parks is very interested as they just contacted me....If I was up north.... I would put them in the Parks 9 or 10 months out of the year and then move them to large apartment complexes with woodburning fireplaces or C-stores near large residential areas and just pay the owners a monthly rental to lease their unused outdoor real estate.

We are definitely a Niche but unattended sales is the wave of the future...quick, easy....and no personal interaction.

Think outside the woodbox! 

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2018, 10:49:26 AM »
That is just amazing to me.  Do your parks require heat treated wood? Mine do and that was why i started with the kiln project that has languished to other pressing matters. 

I did the wholesale to retailer thing, i get $3.00 a bundle and they mark it to $6.  Sold 10 bundles to 3 different places just before 4th of july.  Two of them still have a few bundles left right now laying outside the door 24/7.  They even have a kindling packet rolled up in blank newsprint paper in the center. You know its a low demand item when it doesnt even get stolen.  Discouraging for me.    If there is a market here in my area for bundles it is only in the state parks which i havent got treated wood to try yet in there.   The local private owned campgrounds all make a good chunk of their proceeds selling their own deadfall.  They were my first stop, no interest.  Not one bundle sold via online advertising either, not even a tirekicking penpal.   :(
Revelation 3:20

Offline woodshax

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2018, 12:05:54 PM »
Hi Mike,

No, Texas does not have any restrictions on firewood....but they are starting to go in that direction.....and I am urging the Parks to begin, as it further helps my business model as they start to restrict campers from bringing in wood.   Right now I source from within 50 mile of each park (seems like a lot of states use this distance) and I will start supplementing with "kiln dried" (to the same standard as Heat treated) but it will take me a bit to get all the regulatory requirements down to get the USDA certification for heat treated.....I am also starting to use a product called Speedy Blaze....which is a compressed wood USDA stamped product..... as a green way to spur them along the decision cycle  

Offline bigblue12v

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2018, 01:22:53 PM »
Woodshax, wow I'm very intrigued by your bundle vending machine! Would you mind PM me and we exchange numbers and shoot me some pictures? Thanks for the awesome info!
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2018, 03:36:10 PM »
I was too and googled them, seems to be a texas phenomenon.  Looks pretty expensive upfront but i can see how its gonna be part of doing business, like it or not.  I cant fathom how much more candy and soda is sold by debit card than real cash at rest areas and such. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline Pclem

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2018, 08:13:00 PM »
We've been producing kiln dried firewood for close to 10 years now. The last 5 full time, my wife and I. Had 30 some c stores selling package wood up until last year. For us, the margins are too thin for packaged wood for a family business. I didn't want to go big time and hire employees just to hope we could make it work. We still sell 5-600 bundles/week to 2 campgrounds in the summer. It's much better dropping off 3 or 4 skids in 1 place and not driving around to 30 stores. We're finding better margins with homeowners with "fireplace and stove wood". Not alot of guys want to spend the extra time making nice wood. Obviously, the kiln allows us to produce "perfect" wood, to the tune of an extra 35-$45/ cord to dry. We're still trying to figure things out ourselves.  We've wasted so much money financing, cleaning out IRA's, and telling myself next year will be better. I believe a big business guy could do it, but I've come to realize big business isn't for me with the stress of employees and debt. Live and learn. I hope and pray the next chapter turns out better. Good luck bigblue
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 TKehl

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2018, 09:01:54 PM »
Long time firewood user, don't sell much, but sure have put a pencil to it often enough.  ::)  You are an a similar path from where I was.  My decision though was to keep the day job (for now) and get a sawmill with firewood as side $.

I think there is room to make money in firewood selling premium dry wood to homeowners (& Hickory to BBQ restaurants) by the face cord and stacked.  (No discounts for full cord, just $ times #.)  I think there is also room to sell green wood off the processor by the dump truck/trailer load.  In between gets tight unless it's a COLD winter and you are the last one with dry wood.  Though Woodshax has sure found a niche.  ;)

I think it would be a great supplement to a second enterprise.  (Rental houses, real estate, cattle, fence building, etc.)  

Firewood sounds great now.  Will it still sound great when you are 50?  60?  That's great if it is, but it sucks if you count on it still being okay.  Just my $.02.  ;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 stavebuyer

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2018, 04:58:19 AM »
bigblue12v;

I have travelled a pretty similar path. After a 10 year stint in the computer world I quit my day job and started logging. Thankfully I had a somewhat understanding spouse who had a job with insurance. Some very lean years starting out. Over that last 30 plus years I have logged, bought timber, sawmilled, and ran log yards. Was up to 14 employees a couple years back. Another current thread on insurance was the reason I changed directions.
Insurance Inspection in Sawmills and Milling

Two years ago I started selling firewood to clean up veneer cut off blocks and some oddball pallet logs that had accumulated around the log yard. 

First with a box store splitter I already owned for personal use, them a Super Split Kinetic, Eastonmade 22-28 with box wedge, elevator, and then Dyna Processor. Roughly 700 full cords in the last 12 months. I sell it picked at the log yard. I enjoy the firewood more than most the other aspects of my business.

Firewood log supply is the limiting factor. Log markets and weather are constantly changing. Right now I am out of firewood and logs to make it from. The extended wet weather and strong demand for pallet cants has raised low grade log prices to the point you cant justify putting them into firewood. As of now I am processing logs that I am harvesting myself doing timber stand improvement on lands I own.

A couple observations about the synergy of businesses. I sold my interest in the sawmill and lumber grading operation to my partner and bought his interest in the log yard and timberlands a couple years back. We still work closely on a number of things but no longer "owning the mill" has certainly impacted the competitive stature of the log yard. I think you will find the same if you divest your logging. Changing markets may make firewood production less attractive to your partner. Lets say he gets a deal on some standing walnut veneer tract 2 hours away. That's going to make his equipment payment and put you without logs to process.

 I enjoy going to the woods and doing the TSI work but its starving the processor. I spend most of time with the firewood but it really wouldn't be viable for me if was stand alone.

Offline woodshax

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2018, 07:56:06 AM »
Thanks for the comments guys, yeah we found a niche and are working hard to develop it.....I am sure it can be replicated elsewhere and I have machines in Illinois and about to send one to Alaska and Washington state.....but I am not here to hawk the machine....I have way too much respect for Jeff and what he has done here to do that.....I just want to provide our lessons learned and an example to get people thinking about how they can find and fill an unmet need in their area...."premium firewood?"....."on demand firewood?"..... "Vegan, gluten free, dolphin safe firewood"  whatever it is.   As mentioned...the wholesale bundle route has too small a margin and is very seasonal.....location, location, location.....where do people burn firewood every day no matter what the temperature?  for us it was campsites......and once a camper gets settled in to their little plot of nature....they do not want to leave, so being able to put down their beer and stumble over to the machine and use their apple watch to magically get a pile of wood works well......having a trusted source of local or heat treated wood so the parks can restrict campers from bringing in their own is exactly what the Naturalists and park planners are looking for. My passion is to get the word out to other Vets and Service Disabled Vets that with a strong work ethic they can be successful.....if my silly little idea helps or helps others think about innovative ways to differentiate themselves from the pack and better support their families.....awesome!  

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2018, 10:51:15 AM »
This has turned into a really good thread.  Lots to think about.  smiley_thumbsup
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Offline woodshax

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2018, 10:14:19 AM »
Yep, there are lots of ideas out there.....but once the thread slips off the front page....it takes a few months to re-energize when someone else has a bundle question

Offline glassman_48

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2018, 08:56:16 PM »
I sell the brute force firewood processors and I am a sponsor on the forestry forum.  This last june 2 guys from university of north carolina called me and asked me to bring a firewood processor to their firewood business forum in Michigan and asked me to be a speaker.  There was a guy there speaking about how he used to sell thousands of face cords of firewood a year at 50 to 60 bucks a face cord, they could never seem to get ahead enough for all their work.  They eventually cut back their volume and concentrated on 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 face cords delivered and stacked.  They bought nice looking small firewood racks, did a lot of marketing to condos, subdivsions etc. They "loan" or "rent" the racks to customers and fill them on request. Most are thanksgiving, christmas, new years, etc. customers or just want a little wood a couple times a year for winter fires.  Last year they averaged $150.00 per face cord delivered and stacked. They don't work near as hard, easier on their trucks, less labor intensive (except the stacking) which they charge for anyways. I think they sold 4 or 500 face cords last year.  If I remember correctly they have a nursery type business, and the firewood was a small part of their business plan.  If I can find the link, or figure out how to get you guys in touch, it was really a good informative 20 minute talk.  I think the guys business was in illinois, or indiana. I demo my processors often on my property and next year I will be filling my firewood from my demonstrations in bags.  The last 2 years I have sold numerous bean bags filled with firewood, about 1/2 to 5/8 face cord per bag.  I routinely get 50 bucks a bag picked up.  The people that buy it use it for camping when they are up for a weekend or on vacation.  Some guys that run out of wood in the spring buy a couple of bags.  I charge a 20 dollar deposit on the bags if we just load the bag on trailer or in pick up truck.  Most people just hand unload the bag into their vehicle. I am planning on getting a rock grapple bucket and will make a funnel type box that will fit over the bag so I can fill bags at one time, many guys want to cut more than 1/2 face cord while they are doing a demo on a processor. I will let them cut a good amount of wood, which I will then bag and sell. 

Offline woodshax

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2018, 07:53:49 AM »
Glassman,

Good information....We built  frames that holds those bags open and have one of our suppliers who splits it and tosses it on the conveyor and they drop right into the bag and then skid steer to the trailer using the bag handles and the forks....very quick and efficient.....a skid steer would let you put the bags right into the bed of the customer's pickup.  For our other suppliers, they get the frames and then as they cut they throw into the bags and we come out with skid steer and trailers and just haul them away....reduces the touch time for everyone.

Offline bigblue12v

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2018, 11:21:29 AM »
Thank you to everyone so far on all the good input and information!

I'm not sure what to do... not looking for anyone here to make the decision for me per say, just hoping to find persuading factors I haven't thought of or ran across. Maybe I'm just plain crazy lol
Smashed a nice saw yesterday. Then our trucker texted 45 minutes later and said he's done find someone else. Just that morning he was telling me he was driving for a sawmill part time and they were begging him to come full time. Consistent work, nicer trucks, etc. Whatever... We've been working on putting together a tri-axle truck to haul ourselves, in addition to the single axle truck that isn't really adequate on a volume basis. Finally wrapping up a job where rain kept shutting us down (raining again now, scheduled to continue all weekend) there's about 10-12 semi loads of logs left to get hauled out. We've been rained out so much the past month or two that it's starting to stress the finances which makes it even harder to get the new truck finished. But we have plenty of work lined up for the winter if the weather cooperates we should get back on top. Next landowner is extremely impatient and has pestered me every 2-3 days for 2 weeks now. I'm certain he'll be a pain in the butt... The following job there's a catch we found out about AFTER the contract was signed by the landowner... Now it has to be sent to California to be approved by an heir to the estate before we can begin. We really need that job. lots of good timber on it and good ground. Waiting to get the contract back from the attorney. Other jobs are landlocked by crop fields and can only be cut when crops are out which means mud season. There's no good freezes here in our part of the state, very rarely anyway. Logging used to be fun. Now it's just lots of stress.... Everyone tells me I need a hobby... I reply, well, i have one... It's work! Everytime I get a hobby I turn it into a job and it ruins it. I'm not good at dumping money into something that can't/won't pay me back.

Relying on firewood for a full time income scares me to death. Log supply issues, low cord prices, and heavily seasonal sales are all huge concerns to me. I see a lot of potential in the area, but maybe I'm disillusioned. It would take a lot of start up money... I've always said that if you want to be self employed you need to have at least 1 year of wages for yourself set aside before you start, in addition to having your equipment. I didn't follow that advice when I started the logging business and all worked out luckily. But I wouldn't count on that with the firewood business. It takes too much time and energy to really make it a side job, if your goal for the firewood really is to make it full time in the relative near future.

I think this is my short checklist for going full time with it here:
Retail outlets (nursery/Greenhouse businesses in town, gas stations, campgrounds, etc.)
Full year supply of seasoned inventory
Possibly a better processing location, or at minimum, a good bit of dirt and stone work to existing location
Guaranteed log suppliers
Kinetic splitter or box wedge unit
Bundling machine
Bagging setup
Swap a dumping flatbed with custom sides onto the 5500 (not necessary but likely most ideal delivery option I currently have) if needing more capacity in future for bundle/bag deliveries, add a dump trailer behind it.

Right now I've lost many sales to people who are looking for a smaller amount in town or just out of my area, everytime the conversation goes like this:
"I'm looking for 1 rick (face cord) delivered"
me: "ok where are you located?"
"in such-and-such town"
me: "ok, the wood is $50, the delivery is another $50"
"too much, i found it elsewhere for $50 delivered"
me "ok, thanks for your interest. This is a business, not a hobby. We will still be in business next year if the other guy gets tired of working for peanuts. Sorry I can't drive a dump truck 30 miles one way for free"

If I was in town, I could justify getting pretty close to the lower prices and get more business that way, but I'm not so sure these people will really be willing to pay even $10 more unless you lure them in with having seasoned wood. I'm pretty sure a lot of people would stop in and pickup a small amount if you were on a main road and visible. That would be where it's at, keep delivery overhead out of the equation. If in town, you could say well, the wood is this much, the delivery is this much, or free delivery if you buy 2 face cords instead of 1. Or we have seasoned wood in a nice convenient clean bag for $xx delivered. It can sit in your yard, you don't need to pack it into your garage to stay dry, and no mess from a dumped loose load. I am not sure how many people would go for that but I can see it working. The bags aren't cheap though... It would be hard to get people to pay the right amount extra. Just having seasoned wood  would sell a lot more for that matter, I lose several interested people to that fact.... It's amazing to me how little seasoned wood is out there. I feel like most of our customers don't even have a choice but to buy the green wood because no one else around is big enough to deliver them multiple cords reliably. Let alone find a source like that selling seasoned wood. Our problem is the extra handling, storage and getting a year ahead of it all to do that. I sure wish I had a yard closer to town with a good lot to work with. Put the processor in a shed, have a building to do bundles and such in..... If I won the lottery I wouldn't just sit around, I'd invest and build more business.. lol

Sorry for all the rambling and thinking out loud....
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband

Offline barbender

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2018, 11:41:10 AM »
My experience in my area- people don't know what dry wood is, and sellers are happy to tell them their's is "seasoned" (what does that even mean?) and thatxs what I have to compete with. I tell people, I split it last spring, I'm not calling it dry. If I can set up some sort of firewood kiln, and sell it for a decent profit, I think I could sell as much as I could make. The decent profit is the part I'm trying to see if it is achievable. Folks up here will only pay so much of a premium for a good product before they will start going back to wet junk.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline bigblue12v

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2018, 12:03:12 PM »
people don't know what dry wood is, and sellers are happy to tell them their's is "seasoned"  thatxs what I have to compete with.  If I can set up some sort of firewood kiln, and sell it for a decent profit, I think I could sell as much as I could make. The decent profit is the part I'm trying to see if it is achievable. Folks up here will only pay so much of a premium for a good product before they will start going back to wet junk.
Bingo! I'm right there with you... Too many uneducated people with not enough dollars or sense.... Those that have the money still don't see the value because of lack of education on the subject. All anyone cares about is price. That's why so much of the things we use is made overseas, often in very poor countries. No one cares about quality and is willing to pay what it costs. On a social media site I frequent, I know of a man in New York who has an extremely successful firewood business. We talk regularly. His business model is one to be admired. However I feel like most of the things that he has done cannot be done here. He firmly believes in creating a product that sets you apart from the competition and it will command your price. He's not entirely wrong, but the trouble is we live in two entirely different economies. He feels his business model can work anywhere. I agree, it surely can. It just won't bring the same prices and therein lies the problem. On the flip side, i don't need to make as much as he does, my cost of living is much less than his. Where he's at, he can buy truck loads of firewood logs. I can't find them to save my life much less compete with pulp mills.
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband

Offline glassman_48

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2018, 12:41:38 PM »
woodshax,
thanks for saying that, if you could post a picture/pictures of your bag set up, either start a new thread, or email me direct, I would appreciate it.  Bigblue, I am 65 years old, as I have gotten older I try to remove myself from a situation I have to make a big decision on and give myself the same advice I would give a friend, or one of my children.  You have already stated out loud a couple of your personality traits, once you have those out in the open, its easier to act especially on a major business decision.  It often takes years for customers to realize what a good consistent product is being produced, whether it is firewood or anything else.  I would not worry about chasing the guys that want free delivery or to cheap a price. Just keep putting out a consistent product and good things should happen.  If you have a small processor is that big enough so you don't need to purchase a box wedge?  I am just curious about your set up, maybe purchase a slightly larger processor, and get rid of smaller processor and you might not need a box wedge splitter then.  I wish you luck, just keep working hard, there is that old saying, "the harder I work, the luckier I get"

Offline Ivan49

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2018, 05:58:12 PM »
Glassman,

Good information....We built  frames that holds those bags open and have one of our suppliers who splits it and tosses it on the conveyor and they drop right into the bag and then skid steer to the trailer using the bag handles and the forks....very quick and efficient.....a skid steer would let you put the bags right into the bed of the customer's pickup.  For our other suppliers, they get the frames and then as they cut they throw into the bags and we come out with skid steer and trailers and just haul them away....reduces the touch time for everyone.
Do you put these bags on pallets or just use the straps to pick them up

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2018, 06:01:55 PM »
I try to remind myself that business is not supposed to be easy.  Big profits are not supposed to be easy.  The competitive nature of free markets is supposed to force the weak/lazy/dishonest/inferior/overpriced/etc out of business.   Our problem is too much exposure to and therefore envy of other peoples success or inheritance or free ride or whatever.  But we arent looking for the 10 years that some of the success stories will struggle to get there.  We only even notice them when they are ahead of us.  Well.. Maybe they earned it.  


As for cheap and uneducated.   .. Man .. Everyone is going poor.  Can you blame them for not wanting to pay you to drive all the way over when the other guy is right up the road with same price product? Its not their problem what it costs you to deliver, its yours.  Theyve got a right to shop around and you giving them at attitude about it is a huge mistake on your part.  Youd be a heck of a lot smarter to say you dont normally deliver that far, but will do it with no added fees for a 3 rick minimum.  Im not talking out my butt either, im in the exact same boat as you.  $50 a rick and people want me to drive 40 miles one way.  For 3 ricks, i will.  Then next week i will get their neighbor.

If you advertise lowest price stuff, youll get the cheapest shopper.  Make your better product, name your price and leave it sit until it sells.  If you want dry wood for next season double your price on green stuff this year. Most of Itll sit and dry.


I sold ONE rick picked up last year because i wouldnt deliver up to the guys steep area in the weather at the time with my 2wd truck.  He was 45 mins out and came to me.  The rest of my sales required delivery.  

Its hard to be content with where youre at but ya just gotta learn to do so.  You dont like stress?  Then dont expand on debt.  Wood is a LOW MARGIN business and it always will be.  Live within your means, expand off the proceeds of your current labor and dont spend what you havent made yet.  So what if you "miss" a few sales by not having an $80k processor.  You might also miss a lot of debt collector calls, a foreclosure sale, bankruptcy proceeding and 7years bad credit by not signing that note.  take the time to smell the roses.  Im raising my kids in a camper and im framing a dirt floor laundry room this week but i got no debt and no real worries.  Not in a rush, not stressed out, we're all happy.  I will get there when i get there.  

Dont let chasing money ruin your best years.  

Revelation 3:20

Offline glassman_48

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2018, 07:39:35 PM »
Ivan49,
I do both, I have kept bags only on pavement, and tried them on pallets.  I have had a lot of extra pallets, so people like them up off the ground better.  I put a debris seperator on end of conveyor and its breaking some of the straps or bags with 16" wood.  I will be getting a rock grapple bucket and make a jig to set wood into bags easier.  That way my customers can come and demo and cut a lot of wood, then when I get time I will bag it with my tractor.  It takes to long to do one bag at a time under the conveyor.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2018, 07:59:39 PM »
I have been scooping wood from a pile with a rock bucket and it still picks up a  lot of trash.  Trying to figure out a solution for it that doesnt require changing everything or getting a conveyor and trommel.  
Revelation 3:20

Offline barbender

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2018, 08:08:43 PM »
Mike, in our area, you have a lot tourism in the summer. There are some well monied folks around, and I would like to figure out how to deliver them a rick of well dried premium firewood, stack it for them, sweep the floor, whatever. I haven't figured that market out yet though. Primarily though, people up here burning wood are doing so trying to save money. So I understand why they aren't going to pay me more than someone else for the same product. Trying to get folks to understand that if they buy actual dry firewood, at say a 30% premium, they will burn so much less that it will actually cost them less to heat is the challenge here.
  To the OP, one thing you'll find in firewood I think, is that some things are similar, but a lot of things are quite different by region. I've seen guys in New England posting the prices they get, way more than here. This year Bargemonkey said there's no FW logs to be found. Here, our pulp mills are full and the market stinks, so there is a ton of hardwood on the market. I could go on😊
Too many irons in the fire

Offline glassman_48

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2018, 08:19:07 PM »
Mike,
Thanks for the heads up, we are trying to think of ways to keep the wood as clean as possible, the debris seperator is helping quite a bit.  It attaches to the end of conveyor, I will try to e mail a picture of it.  I cannot figure out how to post the picture on here.  If anyone can post my picture, I will send it to them.  We are thinking about laying a bed of gravel down, we will try on the ground first, then go from there.  My friend I sold a processor to made a 30' wide by about 60 feet long cement pad, it took no time at all to fill that pad, it overflows, he put large cement seperators up to help hold wood on cement.  He needed it to be twice as large as it is I think.  Then you have to be able to get at wood pile from different angles or the wood on bottom and center of pile will get moldy.  

Offline 4x4American

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #28 on: October 26, 2018, 09:31:32 PM »
*Not a veteran firewooder*  (just run a sawmill, sell alot of 1 cord hardwood slabwood bundles to firewooders and have a bunch of friends who do firewood on various scales).  

If you want to be classy and deliver with your crew cab dodge why not get a dump trailer, better yet a gooseneck dump trailer if you can afford it, maybe it would be better for those longer hauls.  You can get a pretty big gooseneck dump trailer if you wanted to put on a good package.  I'm sure you could find one that would fit 2 maybe 3 cord.

A supply agreement as part of the split-up I think would be a good start for sure, but I think you're gonna have to start getting the word out pretty quick to other loggers to keep up with your demand.  One short truck load/day ain't alot.  

As for the bags and packaged firewood stuff.  That's alot of labor and overhead.  There's a pallet shop down the road from me here that bought out a firewood biz.  The owner grew the business 3x from when he bought them out but he also has I believe 4 kilns now.  They send out 2 tractor trailer loads/week of palletized firewood and also supply many local stores with bagged KD firewood.  It needs to be clean for that (tumbler works good) and also they include a firestarter kit in each bag.  The place that they sell most of their bags to provides the bags with their labels on them and the firewood guys fill it.  He has one guy that mainly runs the show, and is in charge of 5+ baggers.  They have a big turntable inside a garage and I believe the skid steer guy dumps KD firewood on it and the baggers have at it.  It's a lot of work and they go through help quite a bit from what I understand.

I was talking with the farm credit guy who has financed a few firewood operations and he was basically saying that firewood is a tough business to get into and that if you want to do it right you really need kilns, laborers, and production.  Doing those bags, you certainly add value on the firewood, but you need the production to make up for the overhead.  

A few guys I know load right onto the truck and deliver, and the biggest problem I see them having is having to wait on the customer to be there to pay for the load and tell them where to put it.  A friend of mine started an awesome website where he takes orders like any online store.  Customer pays with a card and he brings whenever he can get it to them.  He doesn't have to wait for money or for the customer to be there.  He also gives them options; cherry, hickory, oak, maple, etc.  He has it sorted out by species and has a standard length or they can order a custom length.  Different prices for different species.  Being this custom he can get $275-375 for a cord of wood.  Then there's this other guy who has a retail location and he gets wicked money for small made up quantities of wood.  He makes up wild names for different species and puts premium prices on it.  Last time I was there sawing, he was selling "holiday white birch" for like $110/ 1/3 rick lol...it's all about the marketing and giving them choices.  I also sell him specialty cuts like burls and cookies and he sells them there as well for good $.  It's all about location and marketing techniques.  
Boy, back in my day..

Offline bigblue12v

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #29 on: October 26, 2018, 11:33:32 PM »
Wow must be raining everywhere, lots of replies today ha..

As for the guy who said the customer can't help that the other guy is closer therefore cheaper- you're correct. Being closer is an advantage. My issue is the customer thinking that they should get free delivery even on such small quantity. The type of people that don't have a clue about the cost, time and effort of doing firewood, and have no clue what it costs to own, repair, maintain and drive a large truck. If you have to drive more than a couple blocks away, then you should be charging for delivery. And only not charging people that close because they are "neighbors". I'd have been broke weeks ago if I was running all over the place delivering for free, especially on such small orders. People need to quit expecting to get something for nothing all the time. It's a total lack of respect. I don't care if they ever contact me again, in fact I hope they don't. They aren't the customers I would ever want honestly, unless I had a retail location and they were picking up their order. Even then, I'm not sure I'd want them lol.... trust me I was raised to understand and respect the value of a dollar. I was also raised to work hard and respect others who also work hard.

As for the dump trailer recommendation, I get where you're coming from there,  dump trailers have their place,  but getting them into driveways with this long of a truck is not the place. I had a 2 cord gooseneck dump that I happily traded for this dump truck and I don't regret it for a split second, not once! I just didn't realize how much more delivering I would be doing this season. It's gotten crazy.

Once again, thank you for all the replies! I'm on my phone so it's hard to see and address all the replies.
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2018, 07:08:27 AM »
My log yard has long road frontage on a US Hwy. I have no signage of any kind; but the equipment, logs, and firewood draws more attention then I sometimes want ; to the point of interfering with getting work done at times. A highly visible yard also draws in the air and water quality inspections, equipment salesmen etc. It costs a fortune in gravel to keep things looking tidy. For selling firewood I think the visibility and access are key. Year 1 the people driving by and seeing the activity generated the sales. Now I get friends and relatives of those original customers showing up from 50 miles away. I deliver to handful of close customers who don't have the means to haul and the delivery is charity as far I am concerned.  I have a bundler I don't use and probably could develop higher paying accounts like restaurants but my main business is buying and selling specialty logs. My goal in the firewood was keep waste wood moved off the log yard. To that end the firewood has been very successful and profitable. I would need to add employees to expand the firewood end of things and shedding employees and the required government and insurance hoopla was the very reason I shut down a successful sawmill. No interest in going back down that road myself but from what I have experienced I see potential in the firewood for someone really wanting do it professionally. Yeah the cheaper guys will always be around. Mostly with junk wood, scams on volume and a maybe dozen pick up loads between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are the reason your customers will hunt you down!

Offline Bruno of NH

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2018, 08:58:27 AM »
I deliver with a dump trailer 6 x12 and 1/2 to GMC pickup
When I get my health back right I'm going to do Dino bags picked up at the mill and small loads  for the condo people that come up for skiing 
I sell bagged kindling at a road side stand
My friends laffed about it
I don't tell how much I make
$65 in the box this morning
thomas 8013 mill ,Mahindra 3540 cab tractor loader  Dump trailer  and lot of contracting tools

Offline hedgerow

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #32 on: October 27, 2018, 10:50:24 AM »
Bigblue12v
We had some rain come threw Thursday here that stop corn harvest. Its been a wet fall here also making harvest run behind. This has been a good thread to read as I like to see whats happening in other parts of the US. Like I said earlier I have not sold wood in 10 years. I still get a few calls looking for wood when the price of gas goes up (Propane, Natural). But when I look at my own family I have 22 nieces and nephews that are adults. They live from Salt Lake to New York City. The ones that do have fireplaces they are all gas none of them have ever burned wood. Only one of them does any camping and lives in my area and she will stop by once in a while and grab some wood for a camp fire. None of the folks I call friends burn wood even the two guys that help me put up my 15 cord a year burn any wood. They are hunters not campers. About 20 years ago we went threw kind the same thing you are going threw with hay we used to put up and sell a lot of small square bales of hay and straw it came to a point we couldn't find help and was going to have to spend a lot of money on equipment and put up a different style of buildings  to make up for the lack of help.By the time we did all that we couldn't make it work well enough on paper to do it. We were still going to have to handle it at the customers place as most of the horse folks we were dealing with at the time weren't hauling there own. Have a friend 30 miles away and he did buy the equipment and put up the buildings. It worked for a while but he has changed over to big squares and ships all his hay out of state now. Later because of health reasons I sold my cattle tore up our hay ground and farm corn and beans. I hope you can make it work. Working for your self is tough.  

Offline woodshax

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2018, 09:55:58 AM »
 

 

   The Strap arms are pinned so easy to remove when full and ready to move....frame comes apart to transport......this is an old one for punk wood that we can't bag....

Offline bigblue12v

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2018, 12:35:30 AM »
Thanks guys. Nothing has changed here including the weather.. it's still raining multiple times a week. These are times when I'm really over the logging.  Can't get enough logs in, can't buy them, can't get saw logs out and sold, just not been a good year weather wise. Ugh.
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband

Offline Billikenfan

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #35 on: November 12, 2018, 09:21:37 PM »
I’ve concentrated on restaurants for my firewood sales.  Homeowners are kind of a pain to deal with.  They call at the last minute and the orders always seemed miles away from each other. With restaurants I have a delivery day.  I can hit several and plan my route. I bought a kiln several years ago and it was the best thing I ever did.  I offer a great consistent product that others can match.  I sell for $525-600 a cord.  That price is delivered and stacked.  I sell a little over 2 cords a week.  I could sell more but I also work a full time job and sell product from my sawmill. 

Scott
2015 Woodmizer LT40  Hydraulic 35hp
Mountain Home Firewood Kiln. Beaver Wood Eater Firewood Processer.  John Deere 260 Skid Steer.

Offline bigblue12v

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #36 on: November 15, 2018, 12:52:13 PM »
I feel obligated to reply and update this thread...
Still very little news lol
We started this week on a new small logging job, sleet, freezing rain etc. came in through the night and it's nasty out today.
I'm needed as a truck driver to haul logs. I'm needed as a mechanic. I'm needed for the firewood. But getting my partner to realize that all of those things adds up to a full time position, not so easy. I almost think if we split up and I took the trucks and left him with the logging operation, and I did his hauling and got firewood logs from him, that would be a start. I could be at liberty to get firewood logs whenever and wherever I want as far as purchasing them from other loggers. Without needing to get his approval. I still can't figure out how I would stockpile firewood ahead of season. It can't just sit on the ground. I can't picture pouring a large concrete pad. The bags are kind of expensive although I really like the idea... I use some IBC tote cages here and there, but I'd never have enough of them, and there is no easy way to unload them into a truck. Processing into a tote or bag would be really slow going, stopping every half a face cord or so to switch them out. Be easier to just process a couple cords into dump truck then go over to storage area and dump it, then pile it up with loader later maybe. Perhaps asphalt millings would work as well as concrete for a wood storage surface? They're not really a cheap option here but probably a good bit cheaper than concrete. Best I can figure the bags are $20-40 each most places, for the good sturdy ones that are ventilated. That's a lot of money in my opinion. Be hard to add that on and expect people to pay it. Most probably can't be trusted to return the bags or I wouldn't be interested in running back 20 miles or however far to get the bags at a later date and hoping to catch them home.
Mostly I just do a lot of thinking and dreaming. I'd love to move to a farm with better truck access, more big buildings to put processor inside, neighbors further away, etc. Maybe even a building to do bundles inside of. I won't be able or interested in adding buildings at my current property. In fact I'd love to move. There's a lot of factors and details there I'm going to leave out for personal reasons. I wish I could want to do something else and forget about firewood. I hate that I want to do it so much. There's not enough money in it for the expense and amount of work. Oh well.... have a good day everyone.
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #37 on: November 15, 2018, 01:41:01 PM »
How about finding a free or cheap hoop house frame, or making your own from PVC, dowels and screws, to put a tarp over for a half round woodshed?  Have a load of 3-6" rock dumped inside to get the wood up out of the ground water and keep machine from sinking in.  Here a load of rock is 400ish and 2x2x3 mafia blocks are 10 each, they make a nice perimeter to drive machine into the pile, but old logs can work too. 

This is my first year of no stack (i put up 8 ricks for pickup customers) and its just a big heap on the ground.  Scooping it is showing lots of dirt even with rock bucket. Think ill have to hand load again this season but atleast i didnt stack, so thats one less touch per piece.  A conveyor and trommel would allow me to scoop and load with no touch so thats next step on the firewood front.  That and a dumptruck. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline bigblue12v

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Re: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related
« Reply #38 on: November 15, 2018, 04:19:49 PM »
How about finding a free or cheap hoop house frame, or making your own from PVC, dowels and screws, to put a tarp over for a half round woodshed?  Have a load of 3-6" rock dumped inside to get the wood up out of the ground water and keep machine from sinking in.  Here a load of rock is 400ish and 2x2x3 mafia blocks are 10 each, they make a nice perimeter to drive machine into the pile, but old logs can work too.

This is my first year of no stack (i put up 8 ricks for pickup customers) and its just a big heap on the ground.  Scooping it is showing lots of dirt even with rock bucket. Think ill have to hand load again this season but atleast i didnt stack, so thats one less touch per piece.  A conveyor and trommel would allow me to scoop and load with no touch so thats next step on the firewood front.  That and a dumptruck.
Where I live is on a hill with a field to the south and west... lots of wind, buildings like that don't stand a chance here unfortunately. I had a cheap yard sale ez-up canopy over the processor one day this spring, it was anchored pretty well (frame bolted to the processor at 2 points) a pop up storm rolled in out of nowhere and before i could pull the canopy off it's frame the wind destroyed the frame with me and my son trying to hold it down.  A load of stone is about 300 here. I just can't picture scooping off of it without having a lot of trouble... I don't know what a mafia block is, I'd guess you're referring to the concrete barrier blocks? Usually called Jersey Barriers? I don't know where you get those for $10 each but i'd take a few semi loads of them at that price lol  I probably have a hundred or so IBC totes, but it takes 6 of them to make a cord when they're loaded off the conveyor just dumped in. Needless to say that would be a start but not nearly enough. I'd need hundreds of those things to really be getting anywhere with it.
Lots of junk not enough time.. full time mechanic part time logger, firewood junkie, outside boiler owner, meat smoker enthusiast, fabricator, dad, husband


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