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Buying logs and selling firewood

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by Polish hammer, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Excluding valleyfirewood/choppychoppy, who seems happy to work 70-80 hours a week (or so he says), and not make much money, I think the rest of you guys selling firewood for $250/cord delivered are crazy.

    When I've bought truckloads of logs, I pay about $90-100 USD per cord. No way am I gonna cut it, split it, store it, load it in a truck, deliver and unload it for $150. Plus, as woodchuckcanuck mentioned, a truckload of 12 cords probably isn't gonna make 12 cords of firewood.

    I sell face cords of firewood (1/3 of a cord in my case) for $150 delivered. I can fit 2 in my truck easily. Could do 3 if I built a rack to keep it divided. I sell a cord for $350 delivered. Hardwood only. There's plenty of guys selling it cheaper. I'd rather sell less but for a higher price. Less work for the same $$. I season my wood for at least a full year, oak gets 2. I tell people in my ad that if they want the cheapest firewood, they should go elsewhere. If they want a true cord or face cord of actually seasoned, dry firewood they won't be disappointed. Haven't had a single complaint about the price.

    Maybe I'm lucky living close enough to a metropolitan area that there's enough money around to support these prices, but honestly if I had to do it for much less, I'd find an easier way to make money.
     
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  2. muddstopper

    muddstopper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Last load of wood I sold I believe I got $35. Might say its been a long time since I sold any wood. As a firewood business, one has to really keep up with cost. Had a guy tell me once he could buy a hydroseeder and undercut my prices because he would have lower overhead, He already owned a truck and wouldnt have to pay for insurance and probably not pay taxes.. I told him sure you can, but first you have to buy a hydroseeder and make enough to pay for it. Firewood is pretty much the same way. You already have a saw and a truck and maybe even a hyd splitter, you just need the wood and your in business. Thats great, until you have to replace that saw, truck or splitter. Nothing last forever and your pricing has to reflect replacement cost. If your not selling at a price that will let you replace your equipment when it wears out, you are just digging yourself a hole to bury your business in. Kind of like buying watermelons for a dollar and selling them for a dollar and trying to make it up on volume.
     
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  3. KiwiBro

    KiwiBro Hold my beer and film this...

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    And another thought that occurred to me earlier today - the costs of living for us vary considerably. What would not even be considered a liveable wage in one area could be an OK income in another area that is much cheaper to live in. Call it life overheads :)
     
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  4. woodchuckcanuck

    woodchuckcanuck ArboristSite Operative

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    Well there's the reason why you can charge that much. I live in a rural area that is farms and forestry. Nearest town is 30 min away and even that place only has about 5,000 people in it. The nearest town after that is another 30 min and there's about 10,000 there. Most of the customer calls I got last year were from that far away. Was selling for $230 plus delivery, made it come to $270-$290. Some complained, some didn't.

    That $250 price we have is Canadian dollars, so that's US$187. The guys here with the processors (+1,000 full cords), and the backyard sellers are selling for $210-230 (US$157-165). I agree with what you and muddstopper said though. If you factor in ALL costs, truly the price should be around $350 for the product we offer. Split, sorted, stacked and measured for a true cord that is dry. The wood has to be dry.

    The other fellas selling locally, they are selling green wood to customers who are smart enough to buy in advance. So for them, cut and split into the back of their truck or trailer and off they go. Far less handling, they can sell for less. So they can work less for less $. I'd rather work a little more and make a little more, but I admit, my price should be higher.
     
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  5. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    Re prices: I’m in a smaller market and there are three large firewood producers within 30 miles. Since those guys opened up over the last few years the demand for wood has fallen through the floor. People won’t even consider green wood (even if they are buying in the spring). Everyone wants seasoned hardwood and they expect it delivered right then.

    I often see firewood listed from hobby/beer money guys for $50 a pickup truck load. That’s how far down the prices have gone.
     
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  6. muddstopper

    muddstopper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Selling wood for beer money isnt making money. Now if those folks are getting paid to remove dead and down trees from someones property, and they can get an extra $50 for selling the wood instead of paying dump fees, now that would be beer money. To go out and scrounge a pickup load of wood and sell it for $50, thats just a time stealer. I will say I have gotten paid to remove unwanted wood and then burnt in it my stove. In fact, the majority of wood I burn, comes from people that just want the wood gone. I had a girl just last week ask me about supplying some of her rentals with wood and I turned her down. Wish I had took her up on the offer now because I just sold my house and I have about 6 cords of good dry wood I will have to leave behind.
     
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  7. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling Addicted to ArboristSite

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    It's useful to know what other people sell wood for, just like anything else you're considering producing, BUT, if you're selling price is too close to your cost of production, it does you zero good to match your price to everyone else's.

    I grow vegetables as my primary income. Talk about another way to not get rich. Anyway, walmart sells lettuce. I sell lettuce. If I priced mine the same as them, I'd lose money on every single head. Instead, I need to differentiate my product. When people see and taste the difference, they'll pay what I'm asking happily. Firewood doesn't have quite the range of quality as veggies, but the opportunity is still there to create a niche. And as I said before if there's not enough room to profit in firewood, there's other ways to make money.
     
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  8. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    You are right. Firewood is hard damn work to not make money!

    I always figured if I end up unemployed I could make $150 a day working in the woods (before expenses) at a pace that wouldn't kill me. Again that isn't linear cash flow as I would need to stockpile wood and sell it in the fall when there was demand. Even before expenses that is only 18 bucks an hour. But beats not having food.
     
  9. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    The guys I call "beer money" sellers are usually cutting wood off their property or scrounging from roadsides. Almost always selling freshly cut wood as seasoned.

    One of my HS classmates ordered "seasoned wood" from one of these dudes a couple years ago. The guy called him and apologized that he was going to be late because he still had to make the wood. Friend asked if he meant split it. Dude says no, we need to go cut down the trees! So much for being seasoned LOL.

    Another friend was on his first year with a OWB that year of the polar vortex. The guy who sold him the system either purposely or inadvertently underestimated his consumption so after using his entire supply and 3 more cords from me he found a guy selling oak for $150 a cord. Cords turned out to be face cords so he ended up paying $450 for that last cord. Ouch!!
     
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  10. muddstopper

    muddstopper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I went to a fireplace store yesterday looking at the new stoves. I will have to have something for the new house. Wife says it has to look good, I said it has to work. Prices are all over the place, its definately a ouch moment. I wont even consider a OWB. I am not going to burn wood year round just to heat water and without electricity to run the blowers and circulate the hot water, they are useless setting outside the house. MY OPINION. I know several folks around that have bought one and I have never heard any of them brag on it and the one complaint I hear the most is how much wood they use. Only advantage I see with a OWB is you can burn about anything in them and it keeps the mess out of the house.
     
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  11. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    Can you take that stove from your old house or was that included in the deal?

    Remind me, are you guys going to have to live somewhere temporarily while you build the new place?
     
  12. muddstopper

    muddstopper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I could take my old stove, but it dont really fit in with the wifes plans, and its to big anyhow so I will be leaving it behind. Buyer wont use it so it will just sit collecting rust. I have my MIL old house, built around 1950, I can move into temporary, but I also have a person trying to get a loan to buy it. That will leave me homeless. We thought about buying a large camper to live in while the house is being built, but going from 1900sqft to a camper might be the straw that breaks the camels back. Other option is to find a rental, but only if the buyer of the old house cant get financing. I also have the option to just rent where I am, but they want me to make house payments for rent and want a specific date for me to move out. Hard to nail down a projected finish date for a house that hasnt even had the lot cleared yet. Dont you need to come down and visit your Uncle, I'll let you play with saws while your here. I would say you could stay with me, but I dont even know yet where I will be sleeping. I started a thread about selling my house. I hope to post pics and get input from all the members as the process progresses.
     
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  13. woodchuckcanuck

    woodchuckcanuck ArboristSite Operative

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    That's brutal. :(
     
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  14. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    Cool, hopefully you get it figured out with a minimal of moving.

    My uncle and I had a falling out over the winter so I will probably never be back in your area unless I am coming specifically to see you. Of all silly things it started out over football LOL! Hopefully he will get over himself at some point. I had just recently given him that 55 that I rebuilt using parts from you, was hoping to see how it ran over extended time as that was my first full rebuild.
     
  15. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    Yep. I have endless scrounge wood and used to sell a few cords a year just to keep up with the supply. At that price it can rot in the woods!!
     
  16. rarefish383

    rarefish383 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    As a small scale second income, I find firewood, marginal. Full time income, go big or go home. When I retired from UPS 3 years ago I was making $100,000 a year, moving trailers around the yard. I only sell a few cords to friends to pay for my hunting and fishing trips. I was 4th generation in the tree business before I went to UPS. We hated firewood. We would whole sale out all we could. Every tree company I know whole sales out their wood. I can't see working for $10 an hour to do hard work like that. Try calling your local tree companies. If you have a yard where a single axle dump can get in and out in a few minutes you will get plenty of wood for free, to supplement the logs you buy. When we were in business not many company's had knuckle booms, now every body has them. Tell the tree guys you can handle and prefer log length. I live in the mid Atlantic area and most of what he have is Oak forests, so you don't have to worry about a lot of junk wood. If the tree guys bring you some junk, make kindling out of it, or fire pit wood.
     
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  17. ChoppyChoppy

    ChoppyChoppy Addicted to ArboristSite

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    It ultimately depends on area, resources, cost of living and what you are comfortable living on as far as being a firewood vendor full time.

    That could be said of many other businesses too though. Like for example a snow plow vendor probably wouldn't work out in Florida, but would do great in Michigan.

    What works great in one area for price, method of selling (delivery, what kind of wood, etc) might be completely nuts in another.
     
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  18. Marine5068

    Marine5068 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You'd never get hardwood logs here for $50/cord (even with the exchange of 30%)
    Hardwood firewood logs here go for around $1300-1500 CAD a truck load of about 7-8 cords.
    But then a cord of hardwood firewood is $350-$400 CAD with delivery extra.
     
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  19. Marine5068

    Marine5068 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    True.
    If you tried making a living on smoker firewood here you'd be broke in no time, but in Texas it may work.
    But then you don't need 10 cords of firewood for heating in Arizona but you definitely do in Michigan or in Ontario
     
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  20. Marine5068

    Marine5068 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You won't find much free wood around here.
    Tree companies hoard it and sell it for firewood.
    Especially when log loads go for up to $1500 a tandem truck load.
     
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