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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. KiwiBro

    KiwiBro Hold my beer and film this...

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    Bottom line, if you are good or lucky, there's a very small sustainable profit but for most it's a barely liveable, barely sustainable equation that is by no means a perpetual profit machine and needs subsidising through income from other sources and/or discounted labour and depreciation rates.

    Arguing over who in the chain from forest establishment to delivered firewood is more or less worthy of making a profit is batshit crazy.

    It is always good to learn but thus far there are precious few lessons for most of us in this thread. Hopefully someone will come along with solid info that makes a case for a profitable conversion of firewood from, as the OP asked, bought logs to merchantable firewood. There are some but they seem to be the exception. Am very keen to be proven wrong and learn a thing or three in the process...
     
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  2. sirbuildalot

    sirbuildalot ArboristSite Guru

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    I disagree. Most people who burn wood for heat aren’t buying green split wood a year ahead of time and letting it season on there property. At least not around here in New England
     
  3. Jhenderson

    Jhenderson ArboristSite Guru

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    I said if you don’t think doubling your money with 10% of the investment is good enough you should go cut,skid, and deliver a triaxle load. I sell log length for three reasons. 1st, working alone cutting logs,pulp, and firewood doesn’t leave enough time to cut and split other people’s wood. 2 nd, people who buy tree length are the salt of the earth. They know what they want, know what their looking at when I deliver it, and know what it takes to get it to them. 3rd, cut and split folks are a lot like you. They read more into things than are there and are always looking to badger someone if they think it’ll help them. They make unfounded accusations about volume, species, and motive. Usually out of ignorance. Let someone younger and more desperate and less intolerant deal with them.
     
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  4. Jhenderson

    Jhenderson ArboristSite Guru

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    New England is a pretty big place.
    Maybe in the wealthy suburbs it’s as you say but not where I live. Around here they’re packing up 2020-21 wood now. It amounts to about $1K savings. Where I live that’s real money.
     
  5. sirbuildalot

    sirbuildalot ArboristSite Guru

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    Fair enough. I live in central MA, so I’m going by towns around me. Most people I see are too ignorant or lazy to buy ahead of time to save money. They think buying from the cheapest guy in November is guaranteed seasoned wood. I’m talking people who either don’t work or have little money to spare. I make decent money as does my wife, and I still cut my own wood from tree to stove every year. Typically I put up 8 or so cords a year, and help other family members with there wood if I have time. That’s working a full time and and a part time job all year. I don’t live in a wealthy suburb, but I damn sure do value money.
     
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  6. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    At the present time I have available at least 2000 cords for between $10 to $40 a cord. For most part I have to go get it and haul it to my yard from 90 minutes to 3 hours each way which is not a problem. Several contractors will load the wood for free on your vehicle. If any body just has a large pile of wood the county fire dept will tell you to move it. However if you keep your operation neat and clean they will not bother you much. If you do more stockpiling near fall time they the county will give you some slack. A huge problem right now is softwood or Pine. Most people want bundled softwood. What I have is Oak and Eucalyptus. The access to the place I work with wood on has an access road that needs a great deal of work and some culverts installed. After spending $10,000 and the tractor work it is a challenge to bring in much green. However when things line up and the season is right it is possible to increase prices %200 and take some time away. The fact still remains as most say the whole operation is a ton of hard work with a slight chance of a good pay day. Thanks
     
  7. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I go into the brush too, and you will not hear me complaining about the price of a load of logs. Quite the opposite in fact. I will buy a load of logs when it suits me, and I have no qualms about paying the going rate. On several occasions I've actually told people about why I think buying logs delivered makes more sense than going and cutting wood myself. By the time I consider the wear and tear on my equipment, my time, fuel, etc, $100 delivered for a cord of logs is a fine deal.

    It's the other end that doesn't make sense to me. Selling seasoned wood for $250 a cord delivered is too cheap to make my desired wage. So, I charge more. As I said, I charge $150/face cord, which is $450 per cord (I sell full cords for $350). It's enough for me to feel happy about selling the wood. Otherwise, I'd do something else. I seriously doubt the guy I buy logs from would give a rats A$$ if I turned around and sold his logs for double the money or ten times the money. It ain't his concern. Furthermore, I'm sure he's HAPPY that I'm making as much as I can because it means I can buy more logs from him!
     
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  8. Huskybill

    Huskybill Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I was selling firewood that’s seasoned for a year+. I’d clean up after the land was logged or I paid to cut standing timber. It was $50/8cords. If I got more than the 8 cords I paid for I’d pay more to be honest. I wasn’t getting rich but it kept my family fed and a roof over there heads. I’d sell 50+ cords and replace it with 50+ cords every year. I built a one ton 4x4 truck for off road to get right up to the wood. I built it to haul diesel to my equipment with plans of expanding operations. There was 200 cord lots available. I was thinking at the time a skidder, a bunk truck, a dump truck and a processor would make life much easier. But a good corporate engineering job came along and my thoughts of staying in the woods was over. I still cut part time not wanting to give it up. I hated the corporate job. I loved being in the woods.

    Now after being ill I buy some of my wood. My wood guy delivers in a Ford f450. He had the dump body built to hold two cords. Stacked it’s a tad over two cords. My sons still deliver me wood too. I pay $225 a cord for seasoned wood. Much cheaper than heating with oil. Plus the house is warmer. About Three cords heats my house for the winter.

    I been debating buying bunk truck loads it’s 6-7 cords for $700.
     
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  9. Jhenderson

    Jhenderson ArboristSite Guru

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  10. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    Ryan you are correct in assuming the cost to go and gather logs would be much more than having them delivered to you. There was a time when I could run a logging operation and sell fire wood too. Those days are gone. Few people here feel that they need wood so they do not. The wealthy here however want wood and they are going to pay what ever the cost is. For most part the wealthy here do not live here full time so when they want service the cost amount is not relevant. So I am divided often whom to cater to. Thanks
     
  11. SpaceBus

    SpaceBus ArboristSite Member

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    After reading this thread, it seems the way to go is bundled fire wood to sell at hardware stores, gas stations, etc. Several times I've thought about selling firewood for money, but I have mostly soft woods on my property and no good road for a logging truck to dump logs.
     
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  12. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I sell veggies as my main income. Not sure, but maybe I already said that in this thread. Someone I know who runs a greenhouse said something to me that makes a lot of sense. He said that if you're selling something that people NEED, you're limited in what you can charge, but if you're selling something that people WANT you can charge whatever you want.
     
  13. sirbuildalot

    sirbuildalot ArboristSite Guru

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    Whether it’s something they want or need, most people will go for the cheapest price, with convenience/proximity and quality coming second and third. I like the idea of asking a price and people can take it or leave it. There’ll always be someone selling it cheaper, even if it’s inferior wood, people will buy it because it’s cheaper. Stick to a price and let the folks who appreciate a quality product buy it. I’d rather sell less that’s quality for more, than more that’s inferior for less.
     
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  14. muddstopper

    muddstopper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    My 2 cents worth and I may be chargeing to much at that rate. Since I dont sell wood, My opinions are probably misguided. In growing up, I did my share of cutting and loading 5ft pulpwood. Loading by hand and later with a cable loader. Cut a lot of timber for lumber to. Skidded it with a dexter farm tractor and rolled it up on a flatbed truck using skid poles and muscle. I have even walked beside a mule dragging logs. We didnt have big skidders and forwarders and knuckle booms, heck we where lucky if we had a saw that would start when you wanted it to. That said, I am fully aware how much work is involved in getting a tree out of the woods. We sold 5ft wood back then for $20 a cord and thought it was enough money to make fooling with wood worth the work. Work methods have changed as has the tools we work with, and so has the payscale. If one chooses to cut logs and hual, they get paid to do so. They set their prices, but know full well if they over price, the public wont buy from them. As firewood, logs are not a finished product. Someone has to buck and split and often deliver and stack if they expect to be paid. They have to set priceing and also have to be priced according to what the public will pay.

    Either the logger or the person selling firewood has to make a profit or why do it. I can get old and gray sitting on the couch watching tv, why work my butt off to not make any money. The wood providers have to determine if the amount they make is worth the effort. If I think either wood handler is making a lot of money, I always have the option to go into business doing what the person I am buying wood from is doing. Being a logger, one should know the cost of harvesting the wood. If he thinks firewood is more profitable, then he should find a way to incorporate firewood into his logging business. After all if selling firewood is more profitable than selling logs, why fool with cutting down trees. If you can make more cutting down trees, then why fool with firewood. As a consumer, I have the choice to buy or not to buy. As a seller, I would have to option to sell or not to sell. I would rather sell one cord and make $1 than sell 100cd and only make $1. Set your prices at a level that shows a profit and quit worrying about what some other jackleg is pricing his logs or firewood for. If your competition is selling 100cord a year and not making any money, he will be out of business soon enough. You might even have the opportunity to buy some of his equipment on the cheap once he finds out he has nothing to show for all his hard work.
     
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  15. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    Great post Mudd. It does not mean that I aggree with every thing exactely. One thing that I have learned in this business is that reputation does not mean squat here. My customers come and go with out rhyme or reason. Most people live here for 7 years and leave. About 5 years ago a guy calls and tells me how happy he is living in the mountains and needs a source for good hard wood. Ater my first delivery he calls to tell how great everything was. So I go out of my way to find and sort some stove wood for him. I figure it will be a great investment. This spring I call to settle in on something for this coming year. Nope he moved durring the winter. Then for many years I do my best to bring a honest cord. Well no body trys to deliver a cord just face cords. Thanks
     
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  16. DSW

    DSW ArboristSite Guru

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    That's nice but around here every guy has a pickup truck and a saw, and wood is abundant. There's no business to go out of business. Truck and saw they would own anyway, no insurance, no reporting earnings. $50 pickup loads delivered and stacked. How dry? Doesn't matter. How much wood? Doesn't matter. They get to work away from their real job and on their own terms, doing 'manly' stuff and make a few bucks. Sure it probably breaks down to $8 an hour but that doesn't matter.
     
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  17. woodshax

    woodshax ArboristSite Operative

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    Wow, What a great thread! I can't believe I overlooked it for so long. Most everyone makes great points and a lot of the difference seem to be based on location, location, location.....and the abundance (or lack there of) of available trees appropriate for firewood and available time/sweat equity. Some of you have seen my posts before, so I wont bore you with the details.....I come at it from the opposite end and sell to a niche market consisting of a captive audience who "wants" a fire but certainly does not "need" one. I buy seasoned hardwood cut at 17"- 21" and split small and medium to give a novice a fighting chance to get the fire going..... I then bag it (2 Cu ft by volume mesh bags) and deliver and stock at State and Municipal camping and RV parks in my area. My all in cost per full cord is $600 (Wood, bags, swipe fees, transportation, cut to the park and labor involved).....I get $1200. No theft, no getting paid by store owner at wholesale and they double the price. $200k in sales last year and more parks coming on line
     
  18. svk

    svk A little bit of everything

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    That certainly works well!

    So you sell through the lockers shown on your profile pic?
     
  19. KiwiBro

    KiwiBro Hold my beer and film this...

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    Whatever happened to the shipping-container-converted-to-an-automatic-camp-wood-vending-machine company? Did it work out?
     
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  20. woodshax

    woodshax ArboristSite Operative

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    He still has his machines...conveyor belt system..one product one price...don't know how many he has sold...he has other models as well. Yes, I sell from the lockers....you can vend anything that fits in each compartment...during burn bans we sell charcoal, cases of water, charcoal grills etc....but nothing sells even close to good old firewood....The parks get 10% of the gross and I am the only one selling on site and 24/7
     
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