Spring Green Timber Growers
June 2010 Report
Spring Green Timber Growers, LLC is a business that connects local timber producers and wood product customers in the regional retail marketplace. After 2 ½ years, many beautiful wood products have been produced, sold, and installed in people’s homes in Southern Wisconsin. Here are some of the lessons learned from a half dozen demonstration harvests conducted the winter of 2007-2008:
RaeAnn, Carly and Riley LOVE their new wood floor from Spring Green Timber Growers.
She heard about SGTGs from a friend down the street who already bought a floor.
We choose to harvest trees that have little or no commercial value, to improve our forests and manage our lands. We choose to let our good trees continue to grow for the future. The trees we cut were mostly dead, dying, crooked, small diameter, or a commercially worthless species. A small percentage of the logs were good quality, but had little market value since they were just a small volume. A small annual harvest is an important practice for a woodlot owner. It is important for the people involved to process some good logs also that are not such hard work as the typical salvaged wood. This is because if everyone else is just doing the good and easy stuff, a person has to get some good with all the bad.
We chose to pay the logger and landowner well, about 4 times the typical values paid in the timber industry today. In many cases, landowners were paid prime veneer price for cull logs as we have learned to make top value products from worthless timber.
Shawn shows a flitch from a cull cherry tree that will actually produce very high value cherry flooring.
An average of $2.00 per board foot was paid out in total to the landowner, the logger and the trucker for this non-merchantable pile of wood, over half of which was cordwood. Sawmilling on a small WoodMizer was valued at $.50/bf and solar kiln drying the lumber was tallied at $.50/bf also. Millwork costs for tongue and groove flooring using a Logosol molder was figured at $2.00/square foot.
Producing character grade, mixed species flooring on a small scale comes to about $5.00 per square foot for the flooring strips. This is mostly earned income to the participants that is all kept in the local economy. This would not be sustainable at this value if we stopped at this point. Selling the flooring as installed and finished in the customer’s home is the key to success. Installing and finishing triples our earnings. Eliminating every single middleman/broker/shipper and keeping all the money in the local group is essential.
This "Flourish" was featured in a recent floor - incorporating a walnut plank from the owner's farm.
Most of the lumber from these harvests has been processed and sold, averaging $10/bf in total earnings. Flooring, wooden countertops, kitchen cabinets, stairways, mantels, and a variety of arts & crafts have been produced. The biggest expense in the business is the top-quality floor finish used. Total expenses are estimated at 5-10% of the sales amounts, so 90-95% of the income was earned as wages for local workers. Wages paid to woodworkers and installers were $20-25/hour. When I work with my own wood from our family forest, my wages are at least double that amount.
Stairways, cabinets, countertops, furniture earn about four times the money per board foot of lumber
When the harvesting and sawmilling phase of these harvests was completed, as the business owner & risk-taker, a reality became clear. Sure, I’m making money here and we are making beautiful wood products from low value trees – but why should I do this again? Even if I didn’t have my own timber to work with, I would make more money buying better logs for a lot less money from other people. It makes sense for a landowner to process low value trees and make money – if they also get the benefit of improving their forest. There is no incentive for another person or business to do the hard work of “worst first” harvesting for the landowner. This true improvement harvesting is only practical and sustainable if the timber grower is the business owner and in control, and appreciates the many values that are added to their timber resources.
Gordon Greene and son Alex have built their own Solar Cycle Lumber Dry Kiln to produce wood products from their family land, just a few miles from the Timber Growers store. Forest owners are helping each other around Spring Green today.
Future harvesting will be primarily from Timbergreen Farm as I can't even keep up with the trees that die from Oak Wilt or Dutch Elm Disease and windthrow. We will again grow about 100,000 bf of high quality hardwood timber this summer in our 200 acres of forest - more than I could possibly process.
It is nice to know its there - like Money in the Bank!
For any individual, family, group of neighbors, or small community based business – the Timber Growers Business is a proven method of improving the forest, creating good – well paying jobs, stimulating the local economy, and living responsibly for the future. The owners don’t have to do the work, but they must own and control the business to insure that their interests are developed.
A wide variety of wood items are made and sold in the store. Dry Lumber is also sold to area woodworkers.
Cheese boards and picture frames are made from scraps too small for flooring.