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Facemyer Keeps Partnering with Mellott
Hardwood Company with Mills in Ohio and W. Va. Has Relied on Mellott Manufacturing
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 3/1/2006
RIPLEY, West Virginia — Specialization can be a good thing. It allows an acute focus on the connection between product and performance. Leslie Facemyer, part owner of Facemyer Resources, LLC, sees the advantages.
“We’re just a sawmill,” he said, and he likes it that way. But Facemyer Resources is actually connected to a network of businesses that includes Facemyer Lumber Co. Inc., which has three locations in Ohio. Leslie and his two older brothers, as well as five sons of the brothers, share ownership in four companies with the Facemyer name.
Leslie did not plan to join his brothers in the wood products industry. But after earning a business degree at Glenville State College in Glenville, W.V., he had a change of heart.
The mill at Facemyer Resources was built in 1988. The choices that were made in equipment were derived from years of experience at the Ohio mills. That meant equipment from Mellott Manufacturing Co. figured in the picture immediately. And Mellott has remained a prominent supplier to the Ripley sawmill and other Facemyer mills.
A year ago, the debarker at Facemyer Resources was slated for replacement. “I had a 48-inch Mellott hydro debarker,” said Leslie. “We moved it to Ohio.” It was used to replace a still older Mellott debarker in another mill. The mill that Leslie operates got a new Mellott LMR 48 rosserhead debarker.
Staying with Mellott for the new debarker purchase was never a question, said Leslie. “They have a good reputation,” he explained. “I know they have good equipment.”
The mill cuts only hardwoods. About 60%-70% of the logs are oak. A loader separates the logs after they are debarked. Grade logs are sawn on a Filer & Stowell 8-foot bandmill, and low-grade logs are cut on an HMC 56-inch circular saw. Both head rigs are equipped with a Cleereman carriage. Silvatech Industries lineal positioning systems are used on both carriages.
Boards coming off the bandmill and the circle mill travel to a Reckart 642 edger. After edging, the boards go to an HMC MDS50 trim saw and then a grading station. The lumber is graded by a grader certified by the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA).
Facemyer Resources buys logs at the gate and also buys some standing timber that is logged to their specifications.
Besides manufacturing grade lumber and low-grade lumber, the mill also cuts some railroad ties, blocking and cants. Facemyer Resources, operating one shift with about 21 employees, produces 10 million board feet per year.
Facemyer Resources does some of its own trucking and contracts for the remainder. Its tractors are from Kenworth.
A core of a half-dozen logging contractors supplies Facemyer Resources with 90% of its logs. “We just try to use long-term relationships,” said Leslie.
Scrap wood is processed by a Fulghum 60-inch chipper, and the chips are sold to NewPage. Bark is sold to landscape contractors, and sawdust is sold for boiler fuel.
Facemyer Resources does all its own saw filing, and the company belongs to the Midwest Saw Filers Association. Other memberships include NHLA, West Virginia Forestry Association and Ohio Forestry Association.
Although Facemyer Resources occasionally sells some green lumber to other hardwood lumber businesses, 90%-98% of its production goes to Facemyer Lumber in Ohio to be kiln-dried. All the kilns operated by Facemyer Lumber are company-built. The company has been drying lumber since 1986.
Facemyer Lumber, which also operates a planing mill, is a heavy producer of high-grade hardwood lumber. The company had sales of 18 million board feet in 2005. About half of what that company produces is sold to international markets, much of it to furniture makers in Japan. Domestic sales include cabinet makers in Ohio.
The Mellott LMR 48 rosserhead debarker has performed well, according to Leslie. “The Mellott is awfully operator friendly,” he said. “There is very little vibration in the cab.”
The machine is also very fast, he noted. “We run sometimes up to 500 logs in it in a single shift,” said Leslie. “That’s a lot of logs for a rosserhead debarker.”
After the installation of the new debarker, Sam Mellott, president of Mellott Manufacturing, visited the mill to get Leslie’s opinion of the machine. While the debarker could keep up with the mill’s production requirements, the operator would have to ‘put and take’ head pressure to follow the contour of the logs. Leslie wondered if the debarker could be improved so the head could maintain a consistent downward pressure.
Working with suggestions from Leslie and David White, Mellott’s representative in the Ohio and West Virginia region, Mellott developed a system using a series of 1-inch, military grade elastic shock cords to offset the weight of the head assembly. It was installed and tested on a new machine running at the Mellott factory. Leslie and Dave visited the factory and debarked some particularly rough logs with the new feature. The shock cords worked very well, allowing the operator to set the desired pressure against the log; the debarker maintains the pressure over knots and variations in the log’s shape or diameter.
Facemyer’s Mellott debarker since has been retrofitted with the new shock cord system. It is now a standard feature on new Mellott debarkers, and the company has applied for a patent. Several other Mellot LMR debarkers in the field also have been retrofitted.
The Mellott LMR 48 can handle logs up to 48 inches in diameter and 20 feet long. It has a vertical track for the carriage, which prevents the log from getting hung up when it is kicked off the debarker. The vertical track configuration also minimizes the width of the machine’s footprint.
In addition to the new Mellott debarker, the mill has considerable handling equipment that was supplied by Mellott, including drop belts and the green chain. “Mellott is really good about handling parts and service,” said Leslie. “We’ve bought Mellott…since the ‘60s.” Mellott currently is building a sawdust metering bin to feed sawdust to the boilers for the dry kilns.
Because Mellott Mfg. has complete design and fabricating capabilities, it can provide custom design, layout and manufacturing services to sawmills and lumber remanufacturers. In addition to debarkers, the company manufactures a wide array of log and lumber handling equipment. The list includes drop belts, husk-mounted off-bearers, tilt hoists, unscramblers, waterfall decks, log decks, stick unscramblers, jump skid transfers, chain transfers, turntables, belt conveyors, pressure rolls, whole log metal detectors, and more. Mellott manufactures a full line of standard conveyors that can also be modified.
For resaw operations, the company manufactures a linebar infeed rollcase and a line bar outfeed rollcase. Other miscellaneous equipment the company manufactures includes a scrap shear system, vibrating conveyors, slab belt conveyors, lumber and timber measuring systems, and control panels.
“If you intend to really warranty your equipment, and we do,” said Sam, “the cheapest components most often in the long run are not the least expensive. The majority of the steel we use is certificated steel purchased directly from U.S. mills. We do not use any Chinese-made bearings, for example. We build equipment the way we would want it if we were building it for ourselves.”
Mellott provides engineering and layout consulting services as well as technical assistance related to hydraulics, pneumatics and electrical systems. The company stocks a large inventory of replacement parts, and most orders for parts ship the same day they are received.
Ripley is located in the west-central part of the Mountain State. It is about 10 miles away from the Ohio River and the border with the Buckeye State. The town of Ripley has a population of 3,279.
Middleport, Ohio is the headquarters for the sister companies of Facemyer Resources that operate under the name Facemyer Lumber. Just 20 miles separate Ripley from Middleport.
The site for the Ripley mill was selected for many reasons, some related to business and others connected to family. At the junction of W.V. Routes 62 and 87, Ripley is close to Interstate 77, a major north-south interstate highway that facilitates movement of raw material and finished lumber. Besides that, Ripley is close to the family of Leslie’s wife. “We’re originally from West Virginia,” said Leslie.
Leslie has strong ties to the state and community. He serves on the board of governors of his alma mater, Glenville State College, currently filling a term through June 2007.
Getting into the forest product industry was not something that Leslie expected to do, but he is glad he did. “We came from an agriculture family,” he said. “My two older brothers got into lumber.”
At 70, Leslie’s oldest brother, Eugene, is still working and shows no interest in retiring. When Leslie asked him why, he said that when a person is able to retire, there is not really any urgency in doing so. Leslie’s brothers still raise beef cattle, which is what their parents did.
Leslie’s family calls him by his given name, and he chose it for the purposes of this article. His friends know him as “Les.” When he takes time away from work, Leslie enjoys hunting and fishing.
There are many things that Leslie enjoys about the business. He likes getting the opportunity to run equipment now and then. When his loader operator was out on the morning that he talked with TimberLine, Leslie took the machine over for a few hours.
“I like the family atmosphere,” too, he said.
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