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Author Topic: Custom sawing costs  (Read 2685 times)

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Offline True North

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Custom sawing costs
« on: April 04, 2011, 08:05:23 PM »
I know that I have seen many posts to this in the past, but I wanted a fresh perspective on this.  My dad and I arere in business together and have a fully hyd timber harvester, and I am referring to mobile jobs.  For this summer, we are trying to determine some prices that we can set and stand by.  In one scenario, a customer wants to offload and provide labor, meaning that just one of us will saw on that job at a time, and that is ok with us.  On another job, the customer will not provide labor and we will both be working.  I am just wondering how much to charge in each situation.  Any suggestions?

Also, do you charge differently if they want to you cut stickers and sticker the lumber as well vs. just sawing and piling it?

Thanks

Online Magicman

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2011, 08:25:17 PM »
When I occasionally have to provide offload and stacking labor, it is just that.  Hourly rate labor at the going hourly rate.  It is handled on a separate invoice from the sawing and is paid directly by the customer to the helper.  The helper is the customer's employee, not mine.  IMO in your case, a fair hourly rate should be charged for labor and this would be separate from the sawing charges.

I provide some stickers free as I reduce flitches to lumber.  If more are needed, a few of his scaled boards will be stood up and sawed into stickers.
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 red oaks lumber

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2011, 08:49:36 PM »
since you and your dad are in business together, when you are suppling help(dad) you charge your customer one rate,paid to you or your business name. i would figure a rate by the b.f. for suppling help maybe $100/th extra having good help you'll cut more wood per day. far as charging to sticker you have to touch the board and stack it anyway maybe a small fee. cutting stickers charge by the hour.
the experts think i do things wrong
 over 18 million b.f. processed and 7341 happy customers i disagree

Offline pnyberg

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2011, 09:38:15 PM »
This is an interesting twist on an a subject that comes up often (but one I'm always interested in reading about).

In Magicman's case, he's just facilitating bringing a laborer to the work site, but the laborer is not part of his business, so his situation is not really the same as yours.

My closest competitor (geographically) is a husband and wife team that does portable custom milling with an LT40 super hydraulic.  Theirs is not a take it or leave it proposition.  If you hire the mill it comes with two bodies.  One is sawyer, and one is helper, but both can fill either roll.

I hired them to mill about 1200 bdft of oak in 2009.  I was there to serve as inexperienced laborer, so there where three of us working.  Based on this, I would say that having a customer providing inexperienced labor does not mean that also showing up with experienced labor is useless or redundant.

Having the experienced helper working with the customer will make the off-bearing much more efficient.  It will also free the sawyer from having to give directions, or make explanations, or pull chunks of wood from places they shouldn't be, or roll the next log onto the loading arms, allowing him/her to keep the blade in the wood.  Production goes up and everybody wins.

As to establishing prices that you can set and stand by, it is my firm conviction that this is best accomplished by charging by the hour.  My mill and I put in a pretty consistent level of effort regardless of the conditions we find when we get to a job site.  If the customer asks you to set up on a lousy site and it takes you an extra 10 minutes, who should pay for that (the customer I think).  If the customer has crooked little logs and as a result your productivity is low, who should bear the burden (the customer I think).  If the customer has a beautiful level milling site, and nice straight plump logs, who should get the benefit (the customer I think).  I believe that charging by the hour puts the risks and the rewards where they belong, and there's no need to tweak the price based on variations in the 101 things that could make the job go faster or slower.

But, if you're sometimes going to show up with one body, and sometimes with two, then you pretty clearly are going to have to have more than one price.  Markets vary a lot, so I won't suggest a number to you, but here in Connecticut, I charge $60/hr milling alone with a WM LT40 standard hydraulic.  Another sawyer charges $65/hr milling alone with a WM LT40 super hydraulic.  The husband/wife team charge $85/hr also milling with a WM LT40 super hydraulic mill.

--Peter
No longer milling

Offline customsawyer

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 05:31:25 AM »
This is one of those questions that the answer will have to change from time to time as other cost change. I charge by the board foot since when I go to a site I take extra equipment with me and to charge enough by the hour to cover the extra equipment would scare most customers off.
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Offline Kansas

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 05:49:24 AM »
There is always one thing to remember. If someone is helping you and gets hurt, who is going to pay for that? And a signed contract that states if the one helping gets hurt and doesn't hold you liable is actually going to hurt you more in court. That means you as a sawmill owner acknowledge the risk. And you didn't provide training, nor have him covered with workers comp. The guy helping you might not hold you responsible, but if his wife sees a pile of unpaid medical bills, she might. We don't allow customers to help. They can stand to the side and point if we are cutting slabs or such that they want cut a certain way. Only exception is a tree trimming service that I know has their helpers covered. Its also why I think its a good idea to always set up your business as a corporation, or LLC. At least they can't go after your house.

Offline Peter Drouin

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2011, 07:14:42 AM »
Im with customsawy I charge by the B.F. I don,t charge to go to work, and don,t charge when I hit steel with the blade .I use a  metel finder, I don,t cut small logs . 10" on the small end and biger.I most times will go to the site for free without the mill so I don,t have a lousy site. If they don.t have a good site I tell them to bring the logs to my site, I know a lot of truckers :D . and for the customer helping me no way they slow me down and we can,t have that :D. and with all that I make a lot an hr +. when you charge by the hr. for 2 or 3 logs I can see that but when the customer has 1000 BF+ they want a fix BF price. and sometimes they want a brake on the price to cut beams. no, all by the BF. it,s hard work . I try to work smarter not harder . not being smart to start with  :D :D .peter I would have not pulled that log like that, up hill,going to get hurt that way.  put a chain on it pull with the truck where you can cut it and not get hurt, you or the mill.just my 2cents :D :D 8) 8)
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2011, 09:38:01 AM »
True North, you are in a tough area up there. There are a lot of people that may need sawing, but I know there are mills all over the place you might not even know exist. Everybody knows somebody that does something and if you live up there, which you do, you know that bartering is the major way they get things done.  I'll bet that between you and Detour there are 20 sawmills, but you can count on mine not being the source of any competition as I decided after my last bartering deal up there, the only sawing I'll be doing is for my own enjoyment.  :)
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Ezekiel 22:30

Offline True North

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2011, 07:10:20 PM »
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

I know what you mean, Jeff.  Sometimes I wonder what I got into, but I enjoy it and will give it another good go this summer.  I will say that over the last year I got some good experience and found out how not to make much money.  I think knowing which jobs are a good fit and which ones are not is one of the most important things that we are learning.  Thanks.

Offline customsawyer

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Re: Custom sawing costs
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2011, 07:45:49 PM »
One of the hardest things to learn is how to say NO.
Two LT70s, Nyle L200 kiln, 4 head planer, 30" double surface planer, Lucus dedicated slaber, Slabmizer, and enough rolling stock and chainsaws to keep it all running.
www.thecustomsawyer.com


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