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Pipe dream or can I make decent money

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by Bitsy, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. Bitsy

    Bitsy ArboristSite Lurker

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    Recently found out my day job was coming to an end and decided to do a complete 180 on the type of work I do. I did hard manual labour most of my life oil rigs, pipeline, logging (horses only), construction, landscaping.

    4 years ago I made a 180 and went to work as a systems admin in the hosting industry. I really miss working by myself in the bush, and the physical aspect of it.

    I have done quite a bit of digging on doing this as a business and see the majority saying you need to go big if you want to make decent money. I am not so sure, keep in mind decent money for me would be lets say 25k CDN/yr.

    I have a truck and just picked up a trailer which is a homemade double axle 2 x 5k lbs axles. 6 foot wide by 10 foot long and the sides maybe 3 foot high.

    I have about 30-40 minute drive to where I can start cutting and I do not have to pay other then the license which is $30/yr.

    I estimate costs on a daily basis would look like:

    Truck: $25 gas
    Saw gas and oil: $10-$15
    Splitter gas: $10
    Misc: $15 (misc is to count towards repairs etc)

    I am fairly sure I can fit a cord of birch in that trailer fairly comfortably and I should be able to cut and process close to a cord a day (about 3 face cords). Where I am from in North, QC there is not much for competition and a face cord of white birch runs about $100 and I have seen it up to $125.

    I figure $100 is fine with $110 delivered. So that should average out roughly to $300/day - costs of $65/day for $235. This means I would need about 106 days worth of grabbing wood at a cord a day, here I would say May until mid October is fine for working so about 165 days available.

    This seems reasonable to me, am I missing something or do you see something I am off on maybe?

    In the winter months I will be forging knives as an additional source of income.
     
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  2. grizz55chev

    grizz55chev Tree Freak

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    The man that says you can, and the man that says you can’t are usually both right, Confucius. If you see a fork in the road, take it! Yogi Bera.
     
  3. Bitsy

    Bitsy ArboristSite Lurker

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    I like forks, especially when there is steak attached to the end!
     
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  4. farmer steve

    farmer steve outstanding in my field, 5150

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    If your gonna try making money at selling firewood be prepared to eat hot dogs.:eek: :)
     
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  5. Bitsy

    Bitsy ArboristSite Lurker

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    I usually shoot my own meat so I should be able to continue on with steaks, unless of course I miss :p I do like hot dogs though, as long as beer comes with them.
     
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  6. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    Bitsy likely you are way way off. If it were me I would not let that bother me. I think the most important thing is how good are you with equipment. Can you find a hydraulic leak figure out what the problem is and schedule the repair and get it fixed pretty much in your sleep. That is what it will take to be successful. You will not be too good at what you are saying with out some equipment. When you process wood you will get tired. You will cut a few trees 20' from the edge of a road and think it will only take an hour to roll those up next to the splitter, but what will happen is as soon as you get them rolled 2 1/2 hours passed and it is getting dark. For me I set up camp where ever I am cutting and stay for three weeks. So you might need a tractor or a big winch or both. Right now I am totally rethinking my splitter design. The system needs more help or automation. At the moment I am working on better log lifts and hydraulic assist so I can focus on splitting a dozen cords in a couple of days with just me working. If you are very comfortable about having a good market for your product then put you mind at work on how to get your product ready for sale fast effective and in large quantities. However to purchase $200,000 worth of equipment is not likely either at least for starters. Thanks
     
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  7. cantoo

    cantoo Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Bitzy, truck insurance costs, truck repairs, saw repairs, splitter costs ( maybe secure storage) and a bunch of other small things. Sounds like you plan on cutting, splitting and throwing on your truck to deliver to a customer? That means having customers lined up to receive a cord a day and green wood at that. $25 dollars of truck fuel a day doesn't go far either. Are all these customers less than 30 minute drive because that's an hour round trip off your working time too. ( don't forget the tax man is going to be looking for his share too)
    It's easy for a fella working alone to get hurt or sick too and that will throw a screw into your production really quick. I suggest finding a causal job that you like and work the hours that you want ( rainy days) and do firewood the rest of the time and maybe under the radar if possible. Whenever guys here say you need to go big to make money they are usually right because it costs big money to do it right taxes, insurance, employee costs etc. Most guys here however that do make some money but they aren't a business, they are working under the table. I'm part owner in a small business so I have to claim income on what I sell and if I ever figured it out I'm sure I wouldn't sell anymore. I also buy and sell equipment so I get to use it while it's sitting for sale but I'm paying interest on that money too and that all adds up. Bought this in the spring and have split about 4 cords with it but haven't sold a nickels worth of wood yet. 20190416_183018.jpg
     
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  8. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    Yes sir Cantoo has a very good perspective. For sure it is not easy, but possible. Find hardcore data about your market. You could have the best system there is , but if your market will not support you then you will be very disappointed. Thanks
     
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  9. NSMaple1

    NSMaple1 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Sounds like you have already laid out your capital costs - so it would just be operating to get & keep going?

    In that case, it would be a fairly small risk to just start at it & see what happens.

    Not sure what your planned work flow is though. Are you keeping your splitter where the trees are? 30-40 minutes away? How secure is that? Will people buy off-the-stump-green birch for that much $?
     
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  10. bowtechmadman

    bowtechmadman Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I'd say your estimate on operating costs are very low. Vehicle repairs/replacement, chainsaw repair/replacement, splitter repair/replacement, trailer repair/replacement, as mentioned insurance cost (vehicle and personal). I would think 15 per day to cover these items is very low estimate. Assuming you already have this equipment, at some point it will need repaired and/or replaced.
    Good luck I know I enjoy that type of work also...thinking I would like it much less if I had to do it to eat.
     
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  11. Bitsy

    Bitsy ArboristSite Lurker

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    @cantoo
    Great info thanks. Who makes that unit? Pretty slick looking machine! The plan is to cut and load 1 cord each trip, logs will be cut into 4 foot lengths as I can manage these on a shoulder to haul them to the trailer. At home they will be cut into 16 inch lengths, split and stacked. For this year I will be selling green and partially dried wood yes. I have seen green white birch here sold for $80 + $10 for delivery and those people seem to sell out fairly fast. My customers can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes away from me. Taxes I am on the fence, I would prefer to just take cash and no receipts, as most do here.

    I will be putting my two sons to work in the summer as well, too young to split but they are good stackers!

    I do my own mechanic work so that should save some $.

    @NSMaple1

    The wood for at least the first year or two will be stored on my property which is secure, it will also be split there.

    @bowtechmadman

    That $15 might be low I agree, but I do, do all my own mechanic work and can usually fix what is needed. But I think I will add another $10/day to that cost. I already have most everything, the truck and trailer are completely paid off, as is the saw.

    Thanks everybody for the feedback and information!

    The market for wood in this area is very strong, the people I have seen selling wood are few and they sell out really quickly just through a newspaper ad, I have a little different plan of attack. Due to my previous work experience it is a minor think for me to setup an eye catching website and make that the first Google result when anybody in this area searches for wood, camping, firewood etc for their area. I have also noticed noboby sells wood in the winter but people do need it at that time, I will keep some nice dry cords stashed for the winter months that will be sold at a premium.

    I am almost ready to go just waiting on my rear brakeline kit to arrive, my truck I am just finishing up a bunch of work on it. Was doing a little mudding and get some grinding and popping front drivers side, CV axle had finally given up.

    So I order two new ones, get the truck up in the air and here is the can of worms in order... lol

    - Remove front sway bar links for cv axle change, one is so corroded that I snap the bottom of it off. Order two new ones from Skyjacker.
    - Replace front CV axles and notice hubs and wheel seals are shot
    - Replace hubs and wheel seals, see as well brake hoses in bad shape so replace those.
    - Brakes on all 4 corners in bad shape so order a Powerstop z36 upgrade kit for hauling and towing. (rotors, calipers, and pads)
    - Finish up front and move to rear to replace brakes, notice wheel seals are leaking.
    - Remove seals and bearings, in the process of removing axles see the limited slip clutch stacks have all the ears broken off or folded against the stack.
    - Order new clutch packs from Ford and install. Getting the top and bottom spider gears in with limited slip especially new packs is mission impossible for one person while it is still in the diff housing, thankfully have a mechanic buddy here who was willing to come lend me a set of hands
    - Back to the brakes. Install new rear set and have a good look at hoses and lines, all corroded, cannot even get the hoses separated from the lines to replace them so order a stainless kit from Dorman, along with new center hose and vent.

    This won't be my only source of income, in the winter months, rainy days etc I will be forging knives as well :)
     
  12. lknchoppers

    lknchoppers ArboristSite Operative

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    I think you need to carry more firewood. With a good trailer and truck you should be able to carry two full cords. I do it all the time. I prefer to head out for deliveries fully loaded and make multiple stops on one trip. A dump trailer and a skid steer will help quite a bit. If you are a good mechanic you should be able to buy some equipment that you can repair and have up and running fast. Also try to get wood dumped at your place for free, lots of tree services need a free place to dump. I think you could easily double your gross income if you have a good customer base with a city nearby.
     
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  13. NSMaple1

    NSMaple1 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Excuse me while I jump on those timely words with a quick sidetrack. :)

    How the heck do you do that Google stuff? (short & sweet).

    Not wood related, but we have a Yellow Pages ad here. Getting expensive. So I started out doing a Google page thing last week. It wouldn't let me input a business address. It's a home office. So I started a chat with them. Supposedly they won't use an address in an ad, or make it a result say on their map, unless it is a 'real' business one, like with a storefront & signage. So I have to get a sign made & put it up then send them a pic. And I'm still not sure what the search result of that will be even when I do that. It said allow 3 days for me to come up in a search result and I'm not coming up yet. Thought I would, but it just wouldn't show me on a map without the address. This is all without subscribing for $$, didn't think that was necessary to get you to simply show up in a simple search when I started down this road...
     
  14. Bitsy

    Bitsy ArboristSite Lurker

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    That is odd, I have had a home business listing with a residential address a few times and no issue. Maybe they have recently changed rules.

    Your page or website showing up on Google for certain searches is based on your SEO (search engine optimization), backlinks etc. It is a pretty broad subject but in a nutshell:

    - Your page needs to have well structured relevant content. If you are selling firewood for a certain area then the title of the page should reflect that as should the content on the page.
    - After that it is getting good links from other sites back to your page. Sites that are relevant to the subject will give those links greater value and boost your site on Google more then non relevant sites.
    - The more quality backlinks you have to your page the higher it will rank in Google search results.

    Chances are your competitors don't really know about or have taken advantage of this as this "niche" does not have much of a web presence overall. So it does not take much to get you listed number one.

    I don't mind to help your further with it, just let me know. I have found in many cases having your own site and putting some energy into that gives a much better ROI then paying for things like yellowpages ads.
     
  15. hamish

    hamish Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Find me any truck that can use $25 bucks Canuckistan hauling an empty trailer one way for 40 minutes then back hauling a load for $25 in fuel i will buy the entire fleet.
    Your cutting your costs way to tight, you have to eat and feed your kids etc.........getting paid cash nowadays only works if you can pay only cash for everything with no record......cant pay your wifi, phone etc.....and its a long list with cash.
     
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  16. Bitsy

    Bitsy ArboristSite Lurker

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    Yeah I think you are right on gas for the truck. That is my cost no trailer and no load, I would need to add probably $15 to that. Cash thing isn't an issue, wife can pay the bills that need to come from bank or CC. Cash can go for other stuff.
     
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  17. hamish

    hamish Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Be thinking $75 plus for gas, even if your on a reserve.
     
  18. Bitsy

    Bitsy ArboristSite Lurker

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    That is pretty much a full tank of gas, for two hours of driving? Maybe I need to look at some horses and a wagon :D
     
  19. hamish

    hamish Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Your time isnt free!
     
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  20. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You can't just count fuel in the driving cost. Tires, oil changes, insurance, registration, broken taillights, and most importantly: replacement cost. If you use your truck cutting firewood until it's not useable any more and you didn't allocate any of the money from your sales towards a replacement, then you just put yourself out of business.
     
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