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Author Topic: Long Post- What would you do.. Firewood business related  (Read 2798 times)

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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 »
Iíve 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
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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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