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Author Topic: Upgrading to a Larger Production  (Read 1813 times)

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Offline just_sawing

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Upgrading to a Larger Production
« on: May 01, 2021, 07:46:18 AM »
I have had a meeting with a firm that is wanting to invest in a Medium Production Sawmill operation. (2 Million Feet dimensional)
 Does anyone here have experience in this. My LT70 just isn't going to come near the mark. They are serious about doing this in the Middle TN area. 
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Online Southside

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2021, 07:56:15 AM »
Can't help you there but just remember the golden rule.  He who has the gold, makes the rules. 
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2021, 08:00:29 AM »
Building your business depending upon another business is risky business. 

I bought my sawmill from a person that went belly up when the other business went belly up.
Knothole Sawmill, LLC     '98 Wood-Mizer LT40SuperHydraulic   WM Million BF Club Member   WM Pro Sawyer Network

Never allow your "need" to make money to exceed your "desire" to provide quality service.....The Magicman

Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2021, 08:32:34 AM »
It's a bad number: Too big to be small and too small to get any economy of scale.

A lot depends on the who. Do they have industry experience or control sufficient log supply to feed a mill for 20 years (all pluses) or are they just saying "lumber prices are up, lets get in on it"? Lot of difference there between people in it for the long haul against people who are seeing a boom cycle and are going to bail out when it all goes bust.

A lot depends on the you. Prepared to sell your soul to own a real sawmill... on call 24/7, risking your marriage, all that kinda thing? Got the people skills to manage the staff and juggle all the competing interests in running a production operation? Got the mill skills to walk in and take on any job in the whole operation from broom pushing to overhauling a hydraulic pump to sitting in the cab making your headsaw sing or running the filing room.... you can't do it all and you can't do any two jobs at once but you better know how to do everything, even if only enough to know when the guy your paying to do a job ain't doing it right?

Equipment is easy - plenty good second hand production gear suit a smaller operation out there.
Integrating all the toys is harder - plenty gear that can make lumber cheaply fails because the sawline isnt efficient.
Staffing is harder still: pay peanuts and you'll get monkeys and skilled hardworking staff in this industry are smart enough to find better paying jobs elsewhere if you don't look after them.

Look there's this idea that business growth is linear, that you'll grow slowly but surely building it a bit more each year until you get to where you want to go. But that's not how it really works. It can work like that, you grow a little, grow a little, consolidate a while... but mostly growing a business is about the size of your cojones and screwing up your courage and taking a leap when the right opportunity comes along. You made a leap to get an LT70 right? It's all the same thing.
And there's also something about understanding that... 2 million a year isn't really a bad number. Just a bad number for a big business and a scary one for a little guy. It's just what you're doing now but faster, with a few more guys and dollar signs attached.
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Online mike_belben

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2021, 09:31:26 AM »
Sounds like there's a Hurdle in your future. 

;)  

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Online YellowHammer

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2021, 09:33:58 AM »
Seems like a good thing if they invest with money and staffing resources, so you can be free and clear if they pull up stakes and leave a couple years from now.  You wont have debt and will own the equipment.

From the people I know, employees absenteeism is the critical factor in keeping a sawmill operating these days.  For example, the owner of a mill down the road says he has to call in double the workforce he needs to get half of them to show up, on a daily basis.

Another owner I talked to last week said that when he went home for the day, he had 6 employees, and when he showed up the next morning, he had 1.  They just walked off the job and that was that.    

So Id be looking to get the partners to invest is as much automated equipment as possible to account for that, and see if they can also handle the staffing.  Since the production numbers will be dependent of that, they cant penalize you if their people dont show up.  
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Online mike_belben

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2021, 10:49:20 AM »
I have only partnered one time, and was very blessed with a great partner.  i was leery of it initially, as the partner was nearly a stranger..   I thought he was full of it when he suggested wanting in, and gave him a pith off sort of answer that boiled down to 'bring me this much amount of this thing that i constantly struggle to get, and thats your buy in.  I will stop all retail sales and my full output will go direct to only you at xyz amount wholesale and you will be the sole retailer.'

    I figured that got rid of him until he showed up with a crate full of freshly imported components and we did well together for 8 years until i sold to him and he is maybe 7 or 8 more years into it with good margins. 


It would have probably not worked if he wanted some sort of management role.  I never heard from him except when stock was running low and then just sent more at the same prices we agreed on at day one.  

It was wonderful and i hope your partnership can go that smoothly.   


Like was said.. Put a steep buy in on the terms.. A big upfront leap for the partner.  They invest 100% of their deal upfront so that if they walk away short of fulfilling their end it is only them forfeiting their money.  They arent there slinging boards then they should not have easy returns.  If youre doing the sweating they are doing the waiting to break even and if they bail you are left with new equipment free and clear. 

Dont sell your current equipment lest the repo man come knocking for iron that you feed your family with and dont have title to. 
Psalm 37:16

Offline Magicman

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2021, 11:17:18 AM »
I was "offered" a deal this past year where I would set my sawmill up sawing cants at a commercial sawmill.  They would feed me logs and remove the cants.  The location is only ~15 miles from the Cabin and I would easily handle a few hundred Mbf per year.  Nope, no deal.  

I am content with my ball (and my future) being in my court.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2021, 11:51:56 AM »
   The closest I have come to a partnership is a customer who told me he had excess trees he'd like to sell and since then I have encountered a couple of customers wanting lumber. The first guy has the logs, equipment to cut and move them, and the labor and I provide the mill and sawing. I get the cut list from my new customer, landowner cuts the logs and brings to a landing, I bring the mill and he and his helper help me complete the new order. He loads it on the customers trailer. I pay him for the lumber and sell it to the new customer. If we run short on logs to finish the order he runs down and cuts another tree. Neither of us had to go out of pocket to provide anything new but we both increase the use of our existing equipment. So far it is working great. 

   I'm with Robert - I'd want the new guy to get off his wallet big time at the start and get some serious skin in the game and not just leave me with a promise "I will buy this much product from you for this much money" because he could back out any time and leave me hanging. Make it hard or painful for him to back out and he won't.
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Online Southside

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2021, 02:27:18 PM »
Have a frank conversation with @4x4American 
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2021, 06:42:04 PM »
I think that... any business is dependant on other businesses most of the time.

I'm making a jump now from around 500 MBF to around 3 MMBF. It's a big jump, also not a big jump. Few more staff, few more toys, some infrastructure investment, some stress and headaches, some payday at the end of it.

Way I am doing it I have no partners, just a contract to fulfil. But that contract has a value and based on that value I can finance what I need to uphold my end of the deal. I control my own land and buildings and equipment and get paid to saw logs. The other party owns the log resource, takes care of harvesting, and retains ownership of the lumber. By the time the contract expires I will own my equipment and be a couple years closer to paying out the mortgage.

From their point of view they've got a guy who comes with all the equipment required to enable them to get established as a player in the lumber market rather than just being a seller of logs. And the guy is me.... and I'm probably the best benchman on a bad log in the whole country, silk purses from sows ears is what I've built a business up from nothing on. They go from selling logs to selling lumber and along the way they'll build their own sawmill in a more suitable geographic location which will drop their cost base.... but that brand spanking new 20MMBF mill will have established market access. They don't make a profit out of what I'm doing for them - but they lose in a way that makes sense because the value of that established market is worth more than the few bucks they go backwards freighting logs to me along the way. They get to pick my brains and I know a real lot about this business, far more than a guy who runs a 500MBF operation should. They get me to help them train guys up for their own mill. They've got a long term plan and enough of a revenue stream to bring it to fruition.

I get guaranteed work that enables me to expand, and by the end of it I'll be sitting right about where I want to sit capacity wise. I'm not throwing my existing work away... but I'm not chasing any more either right now though if I get the overcapacity I expect - well my associates have more logs than anyone so they'll happily chew it up but I can direct it to my own work as well. And my associates customer is extremely impressed with the quality of the lumber I'm producing for them... they're a national player and will take whatever I can cut and that kind of thing is handy going forward too.

When this finishes I'll be in a far more secure place than I am now. See, I used to be a one man operation but that guy got hurt and was unable to work for a year... so things got lean. Can't do it all myself - lesson learnt.
I learnt from it and decided I had to grow, borrowed for more capacity, started dealing with lumber yards but yanno.... my increased capacity wasn't enough and meant I was only big enough to carry one lumber yard plus my local market: When the lumber yard got in trouble I was left hanging until I found a new lumber yard volume customer... so things got lean. Too many eggs in one basket - lesson learnt.

End goal for me here is security... give me 3 MMBF capacity and I can carry a couple regional lumber yards plus my local market, or maybe my local market and be a specialty provider to a serious national player. Either way I reduce my risk to  any individual somebody else's failure. My fixed overhead - mortgage, insurance etc - will drop as a percentage of operating cost. I will become somewhat replaceable in my own business, which means I get a life back after 10 years of beating myself to death cutting wood 7 days a week.

I guess the thing I'm saying is you have an opportunity... maybe its a good one, maybe it's a bad one. You're the only person who can tell that, and a lot of it is making sure the opportunity works for you, and fits your long term vision for your business, and not just their business.

Lot of thinking to be done for sure.
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2021, 07:24:41 PM »
Lurker,

   I'm happy for you and hope it all works out well and as expected for you. 

   I'm not sure I understand some points though. It sounds like you have a timber company with logs and equipment to harvest and transport them to you and you are expanding an existing operation to accommodate their shift from a logging operation to a lumber operation. What I don't understand is the comment that at the end of the project they have a 20 MMBF mill in a location that is convenient for them and an established lumber production operation. Are they building another mill or are you building one, training the operators and handing it off to them at the contract period? It sounds like at the end you still have your operation which has expanded from your current capacity and can continue as before with more capacity and clients?

   One other question - you mentioned getting incapacitated and off work for a year. What happens if you get sick or hurt during this contract period? Are you on the hook for some big expenses or do/will you have someone as a back up to keep the operation going? 

   Stay safe, good luck and keep us posted.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2021, 08:38:47 PM »
The thing I would be wary of right now is what numbers they are basing their budget on. 

If it's Current lumber prices, that's not a very good plan. There is a "blip" in the market now, and it's going to correct some time on the near future. Do the numbers still make sense using last years numbers?

Exit strategy - What's your position if things don't work out? Will you still have equipment and a customer base to fall back on?

I'm not saying don't do it, as it's a potential opportunity. Just look at all the options. They seem to need a reliable / affordable source of product and are looking for ways to secure that. What options can you come up with that can solve their problem without potentially leaving you hanging in the breeze?
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2021, 11:47:49 PM »
Ive got these Yellowhammerism sayings that I like to use to simplify my personal thought processes (Im a pretty simple person) and the ones Ive used in the past for these type of critical decisions and situations kind of fits this topic.  Unfortunately, they are not true Yellowhammerisms because I didnt think them up, but I use them anyway.  

Ive never yet been in a high reward, high stakes opportunity, where when I decided to do it, to jump in with both feet (there is never success if jumping in with only one foot because you are guaranteed to trip and break an ankle), my wife and I looked at each other and said What in the *ell did we just do?  To us thats a signal of buckle up, grab the steering wheel and hold on because its going to be quite a ride.

Of course, the second not quite Yellowhammerism I use when taking a risk is borrowed from the start of fight announcement in boxing, just before the first round bell. Its the classic, Touch gloves, defend yourself at all times, and come out fighting.

If you believe you can make it work, do it.  But do the research. Ask all the questions.  Push them hard, and see what kind of partner they will really be.  
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If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a piece of tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not pieces of trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  Dont burn the cookies.

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2021, 12:03:28 AM »
I can see a scenario where a 70 could pull this off - as a headsaw with a 5 or 6 head resaw behind it and  likely two edgers.  Not talking optimized here, good old fashioned, thought process.  The challenge will be labor, good labor that can think, make a decision, make something happen, and actually show up to work.  They don't exist any longer, so optimize and automate or go home would be my thought.  
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2021, 04:55:43 AM »
Lurker,

   I'm happy for you and hope it all works out well and as expected for you.

   I'm not sure I understand some points though. It sounds like you have a timber company with logs and equipment to harvest and transport them to you and you are expanding an existing operation to accommodate their shift from a logging operation to a lumber operation. What I don't understand is the comment that at the end of the project they have a 20 MMBF mill in a location that is convenient for them and an established lumber production operation. Are they building another mill or are you building one, training the operators and handing it off to them at the contract period? It sounds like at the end you still have your operation which has expanded from your current capacity and can continue as before with more capacity and clients?

   One other question - you mentioned getting incapacitated and off work for a year. What happens if you get sick or hurt during this contract period? Are you on the hook for some big expenses or do/will you have someone as a back up to keep the operation going?

   Stay safe, good luck and keep us posted.
Hi Howard. Not to hijack OP's thread but yeah... they will build their own mill closer to the resource but due to location that's not going to happen overnight. Meanwhile I expand mine to saw some of their logs so they have an established sales base to grow from and the option is there for them to rotate their future staff through to give them some training. Once their own mill is up and running and I'm off contract (my contract doesnt necessarily end when they turn their mill on) I'll be sitting right about where I want to sit capacity wise, which is small to medium but very efficient and flexible with regard to resource. My biggest problem for about the last 5 years is lack of capacity so... even if it goes sour down the road I might hurt a little in the short term but finding work for a sawmill isn't a problem for me.
I got hurt and yah...  it was a financial disaster. If the same thing happened today it would be super inconvenient but not necessarily disastrous.... it's currently a three man crew counting me and I'm looking for 4 and thinking about 5. This mill can produce tomorrow if I'm on deck or not - I was looking for a plant operator (loader/forklift/break logs up with a chainsaw/other useful things) to keep the saw fed for me and came up with a sawyer instead. Getting off the saw has been good overall because now the saw doesnt stop while I manage the sawmill, though I've become a weekend sawyer to keep myself sane. :D Figure at 50 I need to think about the end game... and along the way I decided that instead of scale it back or sell out I could instead be a sawmill owner and still play with it when I wanted, instead of a sawmill operator. I'm not replaceable here yet, but in another decade I'd like to be.
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline Bruno of NH

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2021, 08:15:57 AM »
My 2 cents which isn't much - 1 cent.
All the production mills in NH are getting bought up by one company. 
Because the old owners see the writing on the wall.
The perfect size operation for making money in NH now is a small 3 person show.
With good equipment that one can afford to buy .
You can set your own price.
One of the big company's mill is my next door neighbor. 
They can't get help even in slow times and keep them.
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2021, 08:47:35 AM »
What do they pay? I know that dollar value relative to coat of living varies widely so... good sawyer against say a plumber or boilermaker or teachers wage, how does that look?
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2021, 09:21:50 AM »
 I get a flyer once and sometimes twice a week from an auction co. that are auctioning off sawmills and a lot the them are in the south. Tenn. an Ky. have a lot of the auctions being advertised.
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2021, 10:19:02 AM »
Kennabec pays $14 to $18 per hour with benefits. 
A first year carpenter in my area get $20 to $22 with benefits for the work on Lake Sunapee.
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Offline Percy

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2021, 11:15:26 AM »
I have had a meeting with a firm that is wanting to invest in a Medium Production Sawmill operation. (2 Million Feet dimensional)
 Does anyone here have experience in this. My LT70 just isn't going to come near the mark. They are serious about doing this in the Middle TN area.
Back in 2003, I was part of a similar situation you are describing. I had a new LT70 at the time and we(5 other small sawmills) formed a group to meet the Western red Cedar demands of a Company(broker). It worked well for a few years(3-4 MBF per year) but it was like herding cats...Some were trying for a larger share and others were packaging offgrade in the center of their lifts....It was all easily traced back to the offending sawmill...but being attached to the organization became a liabilty reputaionwise and soon the Co-op fell apart....You could try a scenario similar to this and not have to invest in a bunch of equipment as the organization will  more than likely eventually fall apart..and you can go back to what you are doing now...
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2021, 11:50:50 AM »
Back in 2014, I met a custom sawyer that has his act together.


 
It appeared to me that he'd found the sweet spot between too small and too big.
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2021, 12:07:19 PM »
Andries I resemble that remark but I am still trying to get my act together.
2 million ft a year with a LT70 can be done. I've done it for over 15 years. It just isn't easy. Keep in mind that things have changed now. You had better have most any part you might need in inventory. There is no order today and get it the next day right now. A part might even be on back order for weeks. When doing the 2 million ft. a year all I'm doing there is the sawing. When you have to stack, dry, and finish it will feel more like 6 million ft a year.
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2021, 12:23:19 PM »
 . . . All the production mills in NH are getting bought up by one company. . . .  
 . . .  The perfect size operation for making money in NH now is a small 3 person show.
@Customsawyer I was thinking of you when Bruno posted the above.
You've got an operation going in Hazelhurst.
You've also got the Rentz biz going.
Yep, I could understand why you're feeling a mite tuckered - you're doing the work of two men.
:o
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Offline Bruno of NH

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2021, 12:36:33 PM »
I wouldn't want to be a logger in NH.
Kennabec owns a lot of mills in Maine as well.
If you don't like the scale your out of luck unless guys like Peter and I are buying.
I pay more that the Canadians to get the red pine and spruce I buy.
I'm at the point now I'm buying  log truck loads like Peter. Sawing is the easy part , I need to do something with the waste slabs.
We have a burn ban.
I'm running out of room.
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2021, 03:30:17 PM »
Around here trade qualified plumber or boilermaker will be on $45 an hour, teacher will be on $75k a year which is the same thing but yanno... Good benefits in that government job.

My sawyer is on $40 an hour, flat rate but I'll toss in all his breaks for the week once he cracks 45 hours so 7-5 Mon-Fri is 50 hours ordinary time. Probably why I draw talent.
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2021, 03:34:27 PM »
@ bruno.. Use an air nailer to make wood racks from your thickest slabs.. Use bailing twine ontop to keep it from exploding and put them outfront for $20 each. Youll be forking those things into trucks left and right.

I can make a basket with chainsaw and airnailer in about 10 mins.  I put marks on the floor so theyre all the same and i dont waste time measuring.

 its all slabwood or doady heartwood cants for the fork spacer underneath.  I make the kids pack em right off the splitter









The twine loop on bottom keeps nails from backing out and the top chords prevent spreading.
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2021, 04:35:19 PM »
Bruno, I'm getting a pretty good slab accumulation too but once I get time to buck them up they'll disappear into our bundled campfire wood.
  I have heard the common complaint of no being able to find help that will show up and work, and couldn't agree more that there is a problem with our society's work ethic. It's also true that if I really wanted to get serious about getting some help, current lumber prices would justify a higher wage. A lot of our local mills are stuck in that $12-$14/hr range (not the larger ones).
Too many irons in the fire

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #28 on: May 03, 2021, 03:41:54 AM »
I wouldn't want to be a logger in NH.
Kennabec owns a lot of mills in Maine as well.
If you don't like the scale your out of luck unless guys like Peter and I are buying.
I pay more that the Canadians to get the red pine and spruce I buy.
I'm at the point now I'm buying  log truck loads like Peter. Sawing is the easy part , I need to do something with the waste slabs.
We have a burn ban.
I'm running out of room.
Bruno mill waste can easily become a show stopper. Even the big mills are struggling with it. The charcoal manufacturers here have started requiring debarked chips and saw dust due to emission regulations. Bark adds to ash content at the smokestack and ash is a no-no. Running a chipper is a stretch for band mill. Adding a full fledged de-barker and managing two waste streams into an already tight market is a tough battle. One large mill built a pellet plant and another started a mulch and soils company and I have it on inside information neither operation would be self supporting.
I was filling two tractor trailers per week with sawdust and chipped slabs. That material would be a liability now. A farmer might be able to lawfully burn it but as a "business" they would put me under the jail. 

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #29 on: May 03, 2021, 08:35:43 AM »
With the amount of maple sugaring in the northeast, getting rid of slabwood should be a case of making it easy to load into a pickup, and letting the nearest sugar shack know that all they need to do is send a truck. And maybe donate a few pints.

Slabwood is perfect for evaporator fuel. 
Psalm 37:16

Offline mudfarmer

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2021, 09:18:28 AM »
Bruno, I'm getting a pretty good slab accumulation too but once I get time to buck them up they'll disappear into our bundled campfire wood.
  I have heard the common complaint of no being able to find help that will show up and work, and couldn't agree more that there is a problem with our society's work ethic. It's also true that if I really wanted to get serious about getting some help, current lumber prices would justify a higher wage. A lot of our local mills are stuck in that $12-$14/hr range (not the larger ones).
Yes there is lots of talk about people not wanting to work, maybe we just surround ourselves with good people but those people we are surrounded with are up to their ears in work. The ones locally at least complaining about not being able to get help do not pay enough to get or keep employees so they go somewhere else. This is the free market everyone wanted yet they complain about the results. If you have trouble getting or keeping help you better take a long hard look at what you are asking people to do and what you are willing to pay for them to do it. If you can't pay them what they are asking to do the job and still make a profit, well, some businesses fail that is just the way it is.

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2021, 10:19:00 AM »
I like Mike's bundle Idea. If I fill all my firewood totes. I may set some bundles down by the road with a free sign on them.

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2021, 10:33:16 AM »
This will sound harsh but there's no other way to put it. Do they need you or do they need your sawmill? If you aren't a major partner in the operation you're just labor and they can and likely will replace you the moment they can find someone cheaper. Hotshot investors won't care whether you make a dime and will chew you up and spit you out in a heartbeat.
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2021, 12:19:23 PM »
I like Mike's bundle Idea. If I fill all my firewood totes. I may set some bundles down by the road with a free sign on them.
If you have forks and are just getting rid of slab waste, id also consider bucking stuff about 3 ft long and making a round bale somehow.  Maybe with some lid rings from a 55g drum and a few wraps of bailing twine.  That way you roll them onto your forks, roll them into a truckbed and wave goodbye without the time investment of a crate.  The new owner can roll them off a ramp to the woodshed instead of need to unstack a crate they may not be able to unload.  
Also less chance of an auto claim for bumping someones priceless 1993 pride and joy ford ranger while loading crates. 
Psalm 37:16

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2021, 12:32:44 PM »
Mike,

   I like the looks of your woodpiles but that looks like firewood in it instead of slab wood. Are you selling firewood too? Do you start with an old wooden pallet and just add the slabwood sides or are you building the bottoms too? 

   I like the idea of the rolls too. Right now I'd just loading my slabs on a pile and have people who come load and pay a pittance for them but its better than when I was burning them myself.
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #35 on: May 03, 2021, 03:09:32 PM »
That one is my personal firewood pile and i made the entire thing.  

That one has cants that are probably cut up dunnage that i accumulated as a flatbed trucker.. Lots of shippers have sawmill dunnage to put on your deck so id keep kicking excess off at home.. But id set doady cants of my own aside for the same purpose.

The 3 bottom stringers are heavy slab.  Its important to set cants at the corners to have a nailer edge for the uprights, and one in the center to keep it from bowing in.  I think this is the minimal for a reliable crate. The twine really is necessity but i found that on the side of the interstate in VA so it doesnt owe me much!

Ps- put the twine on first, then fill it up. 
Psalm 37:16

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #36 on: May 03, 2021, 03:19:33 PM »
In my head i picture 2 drum rings hanging from a chain like what gymnasts flail around on, working very well for making slab bushels.  Id set them at standing straight up height for the spines sake.  Load em up, twine em up, chainsaw flush the ends to be pretty if you like, come under with the forks and knock the rings off with a hammer.  Leave the cinch bolts cinched so that if needed they can be uncinched to get them off.


I think itd make a nice packet without giving as much time or material away.

Maybe insert full 8/10/12ft slabwood right off a roller rack, twine it all up and THEN saw it into consumer pucks while the forks are under.  Perhaps a ratchet strap to pre-shrink the pile before twining so it stays tight.  Idk.  How bad do you want the stuff gone i guess.
Psalm 37:16

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #37 on: May 03, 2021, 03:46:27 PM »
I found that during firewood season you can give away and even sell a few big bundles of slabs. Probably won't cover the loader time and banding. The other 6-8 months the pile gets out of hand. Its much like regular firewood; the wood is almost worthless. Its the labor to cut/split/deliver that has value. About anywhere you are going to "sawmill" is probably a low cost firewood market to start with.

At different times the flooring market was overwhelmed and ties were selling good we 4 sided logs into ties and cut up the heavy slabs into 16" blocks. That material sold very well for firewood but the economics of doing that thankfully doesn't happen too often.

Offline Bruno of NH

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #38 on: May 03, 2021, 04:00:22 PM »
I got some big piles.
The sugaring folks didn't come this year.
I have a big pile out by the road for free.
In a day I make a big pile now.
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2021, 04:35:30 PM »
One thing I see here a lot is this process of "consultation between government and industry" whereby the government has some proposed idea that will affect industry so they put it out to consultation with whatever industry body who say "yeah we can live with that" and in comes a shiny new set of rules.
In my state industry that means consulting with a group that represents about 15% of the sawmillers in the state, but that 15% includes 75% of the states processing capacity - it's the big boys club and membership fees are high enough to keep all us little guys out.

And so I'm sure some body representing the interests of your state industry ticked off on a ban on burning... don't worry them big guys none because they don't burn. And if it makes it harder for the rest of y'all well that's just a little bonus or an unintended consequence, depending on the individuals point of view. At least thats how it seems to work here
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #40 on: May 03, 2021, 04:56:45 PM »
Aint THAT the truth!
Trying harder everyday.

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #41 on: May 03, 2021, 06:29:24 PM »
If you can chip it and compost it the pile will shrink in volume and grow in value. 

Since we farm we spread a lot on our fields, but we do sell it also. 

Takes longer than managed composting but just putting it into a pile it will breakdown in a year or so. 
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #42 on: May 03, 2021, 08:00:31 PM »
I fooled around with slabs for a few years when I started. Quite the learning experience . First was whole slabs for free, ha ha ah.  Then I found an old Cornell slab wood saw , so I ran the slabs through this into a pile, same results as whole slabs. Next I built a slabwood conveyer to load our high sided 1 ton platform dump while being sawed and had a small list of deliveries . That list has become about a half dozen 24/7 , see ya later customers, [only the best need apply]. Took a lota years to make it work. Around here you can sell wood but cannot give it away I have learned. Another thing; never dump [your wood] on the ground unless you like picking it up.

Offline Nebraska

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #43 on: May 03, 2021, 10:09:43 PM »
Lots of wisdom in that last sentence.  

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #44 on: May 03, 2021, 10:27:46 PM »
@ LL.  

I was in a marketing class way back when i had lots slightly more hair.. Very slightly actually now that i give it some thought.  Anyways, we studied many situations which were exactly as you described.  Where the big fish was laying hurdles abd land mines behind them they could afford but the upncomers could not, in order to cement their pecking order.  Phillip morris iirc was the lobbyist behind all the anti smoking stuff. It was nothing more than to hurt the little competitor.  There were many of these. 


As for the value being in the labor, its the same of field stone and quarry stone. Its worth nothing out in the woods.. People wont go dig it up for free.  But if you put it on their trailer in a pallet basket all sorted for size... 
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Offline hacknchop

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #45 on: May 03, 2021, 11:26:17 PM »
Biggest problem is if you can be sawing lumber then that is where the money is and that is what you do, cutting up slabs just does not pay the same as sawing lumber.I have in the past payed to have them disposed of, taught them how use my loader to load their trucks with bundled slabs which they hauled to different ones in the area,farmers took all the sawdust. We bagged and sold our planer shavings. 
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Offline brianJ

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #46 on: May 04, 2021, 07:07:22 AM »
@ LL.  

I was in a marketing class way back when i had lots slightly more hair.. Very slightly actually now that i give it some thought.  Anyways, we studied many situations which were exactly as you described.  Where the big fish was laying hurdles abd land mines behind them they could afford but the upncomers could not, in order to cement their pecking order.  Phillip morris iirc was the lobbyist behind all the anti smoking stuff. It was nothing more than to hurt the little competitor.  There were many of these.


As for the value being in the labor, its the same of field stone and quarry stone. Its worth nothing out in the woods.. People wont go dig it up for free.  But if you put it on their trailer in a pallet basket all sorted for size...
Is this secret code for firewood?    Mushroom logs?

Offline nativewolf

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #47 on: May 04, 2021, 07:25:33 AM »
@Bruno of NH Have you looked at mulch?  This is a product that requires minimal handling, you rent a tub grinder for 1/2 day and just grind it all for mulch (not chips).  It sits for 2 months and then is loaded into dump trucks with any loader (skidsteer, tractor, whatever loads a dump truck) it is dumped at a client site.  This cuts down on handling and mulch sells for a decent premium.  In the mid atlantic I understand that the mills sometimes make as much on mulch as lumber.  This requires a business close to wealthy suburbs but I bet you have that within an hour.  
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #48 on: May 04, 2021, 07:48:58 AM »
@ LL.  

I was in a marketing class way back when i had lots slightly more hair.. Very slightly actually now that i give it some thought.  Anyways, we studied many situations which were exactly as you described.  Where the big fish was laying hurdles abd land mines behind them they could afford but the upncomers could not, in order to cement their pecking order.  Phillip morris iirc was the lobbyist behind all the anti smoking stuff. It was nothing more than to hurt the little competitor.  There were many of these.


As for the value being in the labor, its the same of field stone and quarry stone. Its worth nothing out in the woods.. People wont go dig it up for free.  But if you put it on their trailer in a pallet basket all sorted for size...
Is this secret code for firewood?    Mushroom logs?
No not at all, whatta ya mean?  Read LLs post before mine and mine should make sense.  Big corporations frequently lobby government to add regulations to industry that they can afford but the startup competitors cannot.  There were case studies in a college business marketing class i took 20 yrs ago
Psalm 37:16

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #49 on: May 04, 2021, 07:57:38 AM »
Bark makes decent mulch. Wood chips not so much. Colorized is all the rage.

Offline Bruno of NH

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #50 on: May 04, 2021, 11:35:28 AM »
I have thought of mulch
They use tons in my area.
I can't find a unit to rent or someone to bring one in.
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #51 on: May 04, 2021, 11:56:36 AM »
I think the only way youre gonna make bark mulch is with a rosser head debarker AND a tub grinder AND totes of dye which will likely invite the 49CFR into your life. 


Youd be money ahead to deliver the slab waste to the sugar people until they beg you to stop.   


Try advertising it on CL and FB for free.
Psalm 37:16

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #52 on: May 04, 2021, 12:44:18 PM »
I think the only way youre gonna make bark mulch is with a rosser head debarker AND a tub grinder AND totes of dye which will likely invite the 49CFR into your life.


Youd be money ahead to deliver the slab waste to the sugar people until they beg you to stop.  


Try advertising it on CL and FB for free.
Free bring all the wrong people to your place. Sad but true.

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #53 on: May 04, 2021, 04:24:12 PM »
i live among all those wrong people and they dont mess with me.  just gotta show your fangs.
Psalm 37:16

Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #54 on: May 05, 2021, 07:51:51 AM »
As for the value being in the labor, its the same of field stone and quarry stone. Its worth nothing out in the woods.. People wont go dig it up for free.  But if you put it on their trailer in a pallet basket all sorted for size...
I got this standard line when people start telling me my lumber is dear, or I'm offering too little for logs etc ( always the valuable black walnut crowd)
"Glass is just melted sand. What could be cheaper than that?"

I got people calling up wanting to sell me their valuable black walnuts pretty much every day right now - the price of lumber in the USA has gone up so their 20 year old plantation eucalypts over here must be worth enough to pay out the mortgage. :D
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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #55 on: May 05, 2021, 09:31:50 AM »
I like that line.  
YellowHammerisms:

Take steps to save steps.

If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a piece of tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not pieces of trees.

Kiln drying wood: When the cookies are burned, theyre burned, and you cant fix them.  Dont burn the cookies.

Offline customsawyer

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Re: Upgrading to a Larger Production
« Reply #56 on: May 06, 2021, 06:43:33 AM »
I might have to use that one myself. Now I have to keep up with lurkerisms too.
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