That’s called working smarter, not harder. The key is “VALUE ADDED”…and it’s WORKING!
Steve Patrick started a custom sawmilling operation back in 1996. Today’s economy slowed his sawing business. His solution? Add a Woodmaster Molder/Planer and TRIPLE THE VALUE of his lumber!
Read Steve’s STORY, then heed his HOW-TO BUSINESS TIPS…below!
Steve Patrick, owner of Patrick Custom Sawing, in Ramer, Tennessee, told us an inspiring story about how he and his family have turned today’s tough economy into a profitable family business opportunity.
Sinking economy, rising financial pressure
“In ‘96 I quit FedEx and started a sawmill business,” Steve said. “I started part time taking the mill around to people’s places and custom sawing” and things were fine until the economy fell apart a couple years ago.
Then Steve’s folks’ paychecks stopped. “Mom and Dad retired two years ago from driving a truck. I started thinking what we could do to give them some income and increase mine, too, while still working with wood.” On top of that, as Steve turned 50 recently and started wondering, “How can I keep from breaking my body? How can I work smarter rather than harder, make more money, and still be dealing in wood?” The idea of planing wood was appealing.
Steve continued, “It was really Daddy’s idea to get a Woodmaster Molder/Planer. It’s scary doing something new or branching out in this economy but the Woodmaster is relatively low investment and if you can dry and dress the lumber, you triple its value.” That’s 300% value added.
Steve’s tripling value by making log cabin siding, but says much more is possible. “When you get into crown molding, you’re increasing value ten times.” Yes, you read it right: 10 times increase in value — that’s 1,000% value added.
Just as Steve does custom sawing, he’s finding, “I can also do custom planing for the public.” And there’s money to be made. “I sell green oak boards off the mill for 50¢ a foot, but once it’s dried and planed, I sell it for $1.50. We triple the value of it.”
“In the last couple years, with the economy as it is, I’ve considered going to work for others but with the Woodmaster, making finished products can help keep me from having to do that.”
The numbers work without a sawmill, too
Steve and his family live on a 300 acre farm that’s endowed with lots of timber. “With our sawmill, I can cut trees, log them out, saw them into boards, dry them, and dress them down into log cabin siding.”
But if you take all those steps into account and all the time it takes to do them, Steve feels it’s cheaper to just buy high grade lumber. “Run it through the Woodmaster and you’ve got your log siding.” Steve can do it either way: cutting timber or buying lumber. “Right now for ease, we’re buying lumber. But we have a choice to buy lumber or cut our own.”
Steve confesses to being a perfectionist. “I want to give the customer the best I can make and that he can get.” And he’s self-taught. “Nobody taught me sawmilling or carpentry but 20 years of experience teaches, and everybody can learn something. The carpentry – I look at buildings and figure out how to do it and build it and learn.”
“Some of our business is sawing out wood,” says Steve. “Some is making siding; some is making cabins. The cabins promote the siding. We’re buying #2 select and choice lumber. I’m looking at getting #1 to make siding out of. I’m looking to get the best source so I can sell cheaper and still make a few dollars.”
They’re making MILES of log cabin siding
Making log cabin siding interests Steve personally and his philosophy is, “To keep in business, you do something you like doing. Working and building with wood is something I like doing. I guess I’ll do this ‘til the day I die. I’d like to do more work like build cabins. As I get older, it’s easier to put boards through the Woodmaster and make money than it is sawmilling by myself.”
And at the end of the day, “You can sell log cabin siding and make a whole lot more money for that piece of pine than you can straight off the sawmill.
Both Steve’s parents, Myrle and Bill, are retired now but they’re running log cabin siding and earning money. “Running this Woodmaster is easy enough work for them to do,” says Steve. “While I’m sawmilling, they run the Woodmaster. It’s something they can do and they like doing it. I foresee we’ll get to the point we’ll have to run the Woodmaster 8 hours a day; I’ll probably hire some help.”
“You could call the Woodmaster part of our business an expansion of the sawmill and wood business we’ve been doing for 20 years. We’re going from rough to finished wood products. It’s a learning curve but in 20 years you learn something about wood. I want to get proficient with tongue and groove, crown molding. I’ve talked with people about curved molding. I want to learn it all.”
Making a good living and the future looks bright
Steve tells us, “This is a way of making a good, decent living, doing something I enjoy, without breaking my back, working for myself. I wanted to run my own life and call the shots. This helps me do that.”
“We’ve got the 718 Woodmaster and room for a second machine at some point. I’d like to make log siding on an ongoing basis and have a second machine set up for planing. I’d consider using one for a rip saw. At some point in time, a second machine is in order.
“If you’re thinking about getting a Woodmaster, go see and talk to people who own one and I believe it’ll sell itself. I believe it’s a good product the company stands behind. You can’t go wrong with it. As long as Woodmaster continues to do pleasant customer service, I believe they’ll have us as customers for life.
We’re still in the crawling stage with this Woodmaster but it’s proven it’s capable of doing what we want to do. As we learn and expand, there’s no way to go but up. I’m very satisfied with the product and the direction we’re going in our business.”
ARE YOU READY TO START YOUR OWN WOODMASTER BUSINESS?
Take these tips from Steve – he’s already taken the leap and is making it work!
• Keep costs down
“Watch every penny and keep every expense and cost down as much as possible. We built our own building for the Woodmaster so we’re trying to hold expenses down as much as possible.”
• Shop for equipment value
“The Woodmaster will do what million dollar machines will do at a pretty reasonable price. We paid something like $5000 for this with the Super Pro Pack. $5000 versus tens of thousands is keeping your expenses low.
Woodmaster can be used around the clock, all the time, full time and will stand up, and all at a reasonable cost. You don’t spend thousands and you get a product that will do the job.
You can get cheaper equipment imported from China – I’ve got a Grizzly® planer – but it’s not going to hold up to day after day use. You don’t want something that’s not going to stand up.”
• Invest in production-boosters
“We got the Super Pro Pack, too, so we have the dual router system. And to make it easier on Mom and Dad, we got the extension tables. We got a motor upgrade to the heavy duty 5HP motor. It seems more than capable of handling the load. Log cabin siding takes so much wood off, you wonder if the motor will handle the load. It handles it fine.
• Don’t stockpile an expensive inventory
We’re not stockpiling; we’re making it to order. I sold 800 running feet to someone building a cabin. We ran a couple hundred feet for ourselves. Last week, we did a whole house – we ran 3000 running feet.
• Make only top quality goods
There’s a place near here that makes log cabin siding but they’re using low grade 2 x 8’s and selling it cheap. But I can’t stake my name on a low grade product. Repeat sales and word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
• Use your network
I have a customer base through sawmilling for so long. Everybody who comes by, socially interact with, or at church, I give them at least a piece of log cabin siding. A whole lot of word of mouth. I go to every contractor and builder and let them know I’m doing it and give them samples. I drive all over promoting our siding, giving out samples, and getting high grade 2 x 8’s.
• Advertise in local papers, online, more
We have an ad on Craigslist for siding and cabins. I have to admit, Craigslist brings a lot of phone calls. Business cards, ads in local and county papers, too. I wish every week was like last week – we sold enough siding to cover a whole house. We bid on one 2-1/2 times bigger. I hope that comes through.
• Price it to sell
If you look on the internet, you’ll find siding anywhere from $1 to $3 a foot. There’s a place near here selling it for 78¢ a running foot. We priced ours starting at a dollar, then 95¢, now 85¢ a running foot. At 85¢ a running foot, I’m still making 35¢. I’d rather make 35¢a foot than price it higher and not sell it. As the economy picks up, our price will go up.
• Make displays – big and little
Seeing the cabins we built attracts people to the siding itself even if they don’t want to buy the cabin.
I took a 3-board sample to Lowe’s and set it beside a 3-board display from another manufacturer and Lowe’s said ours would sell itself because our quality is much better.
• No such thing as “waste”
I’m talking to people about selling sawdust to horse people. I told one guy we’d fill his pickup truck for $20. I’ll load it with a front end loader. We’ve talked about making fuel pellets, too.