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Setting Up Your Own Firewood Supply Business

May 25, 2008
Unpredictable fuel costs and the necessity of keeping warm in the winter have resulted in 'boom sales' for manufacturers of wood-burning stoves. There has also been a return to the use of the fireplace as a form of supplementary heat and as a luxury that promotes the 'cosy' atmosphere sought after by both middle class and affluent families. This renaissance in the popularity of wood heat, and upward spiralling sales of associated equipment, has created a demand for firewood that's almost impossible to fulfil!

A very important element: This demand has caused the price of firewood to almost double over the past several years. Whatever the "going price" for a cord of firewood in your area, you can expect it to increase by 20 to 30 percent each year for the next ten years or so.

Your potential market is a varied as the weather; it is also somewhat dependent on the weather. You'll find buyers among apartment dwellers as well as home owners. The rich are buying firewood perhaps more than the poor; those concerned with the purity of the environment and the so-called "voluntary-simplicity' folk seeking a return to the "pioneering" life are all part of your market.

And don't think for a minute that firewood sales are limited to the colder northern states. People who are living in Sunny Southern California and along the Gulf of Mexico buy and burn firewood for the same reasons as people living in Minnesota or Montana.

One of the secrets of success in this business is, understanding why the people in your area burn firewood. Then it's a matter of learning when and how often they need it, and positioning yourself to fill those needs.

It doesn't take special education or training to become a successful firewood supplier. Just for the record, the backgrounds of people operating businesses of this kind range from farmers to unemployed factory workers to doctors, lawyers, real estate salesmen and even university professors.

The kind of equipment you'll need varies according to the type of business you want to establish, and the kind of wood you will be supplying.

The first prerequisite to the establishment of your business is to decide what kind of business - wholesale to retail outlets, or retail to the general public - you want to operate.

Next, you'll have to decide on the type of firewood you will sell. There are three major categories: l) mill ends or sawed up scrap lumber and kindling, 2) whole logs for the buyer to cut according to his own specifications, 3) fireplace and stove wood, cut and split according to the general requirements of your market area.

Your next step is to line up a source of supply. Actually, it's best to 'lock in' a number of sources of supply. Later on, as your business develops and grows, you may want to offer several different kinds of firewood, that is, become a full-service dealer offering firewood to meet everyone's needs and fancies for your area. We'll discuss different categories of wood in demand, so that you can explore sources of supply and costs.

Mill Ends: Your best source of supply for this type of wood is sawmills in your area. If you live in a metropolitan area, take a few weekend trips to the small towns in the wooded areas of your state. With a little bit of initiative on our part, you should be able to discover any number of small sawmill operations within a 200-mile radius of most metropolitan areas in this country. What you'll want to do is buy a truckload of mill ends, take them home and package them into sacks of firewood. Thus, a load of mill ends that you might buy for $50 would be broken down into perhaps 200 sack-full that you sell for $5 per sack. Multiply these 200 sacks of firewood times $5 each, and you have a gross income of $1,000 for a load of wood costing you only $50. You wouldn't have to be very smart to realize that's pretty good, providing your sources of supply can keep up with the demand.

The beauty of mill ends is that they are clean, burn easily and fast, put out a lot of heat, and when broken down into sack-full are ideal for apartment dwellers, as well as people in warmer climates needing firewood for just a few cold spells each winter. Until you have a large full-service firewood supply operation, it's suggested that you leave the sale of truckload supplies of mill ends to the larger, more established fire wood suppliers. My advice here is that you should stay within your capabilities of supplying the buying demands of your market, and further concentrate on selling what brings you the greatest profit. However, as your operation grows, the supply of truck loads of mill end firewood is definitely worth considering.

Other sources of supply for mill end lumber will be your local lumber yards, wood working or furniture manufacturing firms, and home building or remodelling contractors. In many instances, you can offer to stop by these places about once a week and clean up the worksite by hauling away the scrap lumber, and they'll let you have it without cost. It is possible to even get paid for doing this. The only drawback will be that you'll have to sort this wood, and then saw it up into the size s you want for your bundles or sacks. This is no big deal, because you can handle a pickup or trailer load with a power saw in just a couple of hours.
About the Author
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is an internet marketing advisor.

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