Timber Processing magazine’s April 2017 issue features Wadley, Georgia’s Battle Lumber Company and their new trimmer and sorter line. A special report examines the softwood lumber industry’s recovery following the recession 10 years ago. Also featured is Weidman, Michigan’s Maeder Brothers Lumber and their recovery following a devastating fire in 2014. An article highlights the industry contributions of the late Paul Ehinger. A special article by Russ Vaagen of Vaagen Brothers Lumber discusses industry engagement in forest collaboration. Other articles cover the latest industry news, new projects and project updates, and new products and technology.
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Timber Processing magazine Managing Editor Dan Shell has the opportunity to visit Battle Lumber Company in Wadley, Georgia. Planned as “phase 2” to a major project that featured a greenfield small log-timbers mill with innovative sharp chain system starting up in 2014, a new sorter and trimmer line that complements the timbers mill has Battle Lumber Co. reaping even more benefits from the expansion. The highly diverse lumber company produces hardwood lumber mostly, in grades ranging from pallet pieces to upper end premium hardwoods, but also targets pine markets with timbers—and now pine lumber thanks to the additional sorting capacity. “When we first built the timbers mill we had the intention of doing it in phases, starting with the small log breakdown and then adding a trimmer and sorter line,” says Thomas Battle, who oversees operations at the timbers mill.
Timber Processing magazine Senior Associate Editor David Abbott reports on the state of the softwood lumber industry 10 years after the recession. Abbott writes, “For most North American lumber producers, a large chunk of the years between 2007 and 2017 was spent going through the downturn and struggling to come back from it. At the core of that financial crisis was the dramatic bursting of the housing market bubble. By most accounts it seemed to have hit its lowest point in 2009. By general consensus, the “great recession” is agreed to have begun in 2008 or late 2007, though most admit that hints of its arrival were noticeable before that. Housing prices peaked in 2005 and started declining in 2006, following a high point of almost 2.3 million new housing starts in January 2006, well above the historic average.”
Timber Processing magazine Associate Editor Jessica Johnson travels to Weidman, Michigan to visit Maeder Brothers Lumber. Jim Maeder is a third generation hardwood sawmiller in Michigan, and he loves his family business. So on a late April day in 2014, when he walked around his family’s sawmill after a fire earlier that morning burned it completely to the ground, with the oil, sawdust and chips doing nothing but acting as an accelerant causing fire crews to be unable to salvage the building, he was understandably speechless. It was a total loss. But then, as he walked the charred remains with a local reporter, he shed a light on what would become a motto of sorts for Maeder Bros. Lumber over the next year. He told the reporter, “We’ve got a yard full of wood to take care of and the show must go on, so we’ll keep going. Just a tough thing to see, everything you’ve worked for laying here smoking, but we will go on.”
Paul Fisher Ehinger, who became known for his accurate compilation of lists of mill closures, but whose career in the wood products industry as a forester, mill manager and consultant spanned 70 years, died February 27 in Eugene, Ore. He was 93. Ehinger (pronounced ing-er), who had formed his consulting firm, Paul F. Ehinger & Associates, in 1983, began keeping and distributing detailed lists of sawmill and plywood mill closures in the Northwest as the industry contracted due to reduced access to national forest timber caused by environmental group lawsuits, wilderness setasides and protection of the northern spotted owl. National and regional media regularly cited Ehinger’s mill closure and related employment statistics, which served to bring the tragic consolidation of the Northwest wood products industry clearly into focus during the 1980s and 1990s.
Russ Vaagen of Vaagen Brothers Lumber in Colville, Washington discusses getting involved in forest collaboration. Vaagen writes, “As a “Timber Processor” should you engage in forest collaboration? And if you should, why? As someone who has been engaged in forest collaboration for more than 15 years, my answer should be self-evident. I think we need to be engaged as individual companies and as a forest industry. I understand that is easy for me to say, but how does that help someone who hasn’t been involved and doesn’t know where to start? The first step I would take is to identify the most local collaborative group that you know of. If there is one near you, either plan to attend and listen in or identify the appropriate person in your organization to attend on your behalf and report back. If you think to yourself, “We don’t get our logs from federal sources,” or “Our business doesn’t depend on this stuff,” consider yourself fortunate.”
(Article provided by Key Knife) Watching chipping heads at work is flat out cool. It is mesmerizing watching log after log buzz through a canter at blazing speeds. The heads are relatively small compared to the machinery, but they have an enormous impact on mill productivity, product value, and ultimately the bottom line. Here are a few pro tips mills can put into action immediately to ensure they extract the most value from their chipping heads. Establish a preventative maintenance program. Checking chipping heads for impact damage, cracks, excessive wear and packing during knife changes is ideal, but time may be limited. Be proactive and schedule time weekly, monthly and quarterly to evaluate components. Staying on top of PM will significantly reduce the risk of unscheduled downtime and ensure the heads perform to spec.
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