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Cousineau a Forest Products Leader in NE: Company’s Continental Biomass Industries Grinder Marks a Decade of Service
CBI Grinder Marks 10 Years with Maine Business
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 4/1/2008
NORTH ANSON, Maine — Mackerel fishing, clean water and great scenery are images that spring to mind when most people recall days they spent in Searsport, Maine.
For Randy Cousineau, CEO of Cousineau Inc., the picture that emerges is of something else altogether: a Continental Biomass Industries (CBI) 4800 Magnum Force grinder taking on a challenging project.
“We actually ground a big dock in Searsport, Maine, piers and butts,” said Randy. The dock was about a half-mile long. Another company dismantled the structure, and Cousineau fed the wood material into its 4800 Magnum Force grinder manufactured by New Hampshire-based CBI.
The Searsport job was about five years ago, and Cousineau has had the machine for 10 years. The CBI 4800 Magnum Force grinder is a high-capacity machine that sees lots of activity. “We work about 1500 hours per year” with the grinder, said Randy.
The machine has been upgraded with a 1,000 hp engine; it originally was equipped with a 880 hp engine. (CBI offers customers a range of engine options from 860 to 1,030 hp.) The powerful CBI 4800Magnum Force machine can reduce 100 tons of material per hour. Cousineau uses the machine to grind mill waste, logs, poles, ties, stumps and other wood material.
The machine is not only powerful, it performs consistently and reliably while tackling a wide range of grinding tasks, noted Randy.
Cousineau is a diverse business that keeps developing new branches. Incorporated in 1973, the company stems from a wood products business Randy’s parents launched in 1959. Its interests include land-clearing, real estate, wood products (including a sawmill) and related services, and much more.
The last three years have brought a new focus: construction. “We’re doing some condominium building,” said Randy. The company built 11 units at Sugarloaf in 2006 and 12 units at Saddleback in 2007, popular ski resorts. “We hope to do more in 2008.”
The Cousineau sawmill produces lumber that is sold for furniture making and flooring. The sawmill’s 15 employees cut about 5 million board feet per year. In all, Cousineau employs 100 people.
Among the leaders at the company are Randy’s son, Brody, and his daughter, Brandi Cousineau Hau. Brody handles log and lumber sales and general management; Brandi heads up bark sales and property management.
Guided by the motto ‘Handling the Earth with Care,’ Randy and the entire team at Cousineau look for ways to make the most of every piece of wood cleared for development and infrastructure projects.
The company deploys its CBI 4800 Magnum Force grinder at its own land-clearing job sites. It also contracts to provide grinding services to other businesses, including BFI® Waste Services. The CBI grinder is pulled from site to site with a Mack tractor.
The CBI 4800 Magnum Force is designed and built for durability. Proper maintenance is simple, said Randy. “We do most of our own maintenance,” he said. Front and back access to the grinding chamber and bolt-in liners make maintenance work as streamlined as possible.
Besides the CBI grinder, Cousineau owns a CBI disc screen. The company also depends on a Morbark 1300 tub grinder; the Morbark was purchased in 1997 and is the third Morbark machine the company has owned.
The grinders can be taken to any site in the Pine Tree State where Cousineau has a permit to grind. Headquarters for Cousineau is North Anson, a town of 2,500 about 50 miles northwest of Augusta. Situated in the foothills of the Longfellow Mountains, North Anson is part of a heavily forested region. Cousineau also operates a consolidation yard in Henniker, N.H.
The company has several affiliated divisions: Cousineau Wood Products, Cousineau Properties and Cousineau Forest Products. It also operates satellite locations in the Maine cities of Strong, East Wilton and Rome.
The CBI 4800 Magnum Force weighs 89,000 pounds and is road legal. Part of the CBI 4000 series of grinders, the machine has upper and lower feed rollers. The infeed rollers are powered by three high-torque planetary gear drives that are crucial players because they ensure continuous movement of logs and other material into the grinder.
The CBI 4000 series grinders are equipped with remote radio control. The idea is to be able to make quick changes or adjustments in operations. The remote control adjusts the crushing force of the upper roller.
Built in to the CBI 4800 is a pre-screener. The pre-screener filters out tiny particles of crushed rock and other non-organic material before they come in contact with the hog. Thanks to pre-screening, the hog experiences the minimum amount of wear, or wear coupled with productive work instead of wasteful diversions.
Not all grinding is the same, but there is an economic advantage to being able to do more with the same piece of equipment. For that reason, CBI designed its 4800 Magnum Force so that the different rotors can be tapped for different types of grinding.
CBI now offers a Flexxaire fan for the radiator of its 4000 series grinders. The fan, which reverses every 5 to 15 minutes, keeps the radiator free of debris.
CBI grinders in the 6000 and 8000 model series can be ordered with tracks. The big machines in the 6000 and 8000 line-ups are designed to grind whole trees.
CBI is also a dealer for the Pallari KH-160 wood shear that is the core of the land-clearing operation at Cousineau. (CBI also offers a CBI stump sheer and a CBI stump ripper and shear.)
Land clearing is an integral part of the Cousineau Properties arm of the company. When land is purchased for lease or sale, it is often cleared first.
The Pallari shear is mounted on an excavator. The shear is used to extract stumps by pulling them up. Once they are uprooted, the Pallari shears the stumps into pieces that can be fed to grinders.
Mulch is made from both bark and other wood material. “We do some coloring now” of wood mulch, said Randy. A dry colorant product is used. Mulch is sold bulk wholesale to landscapers.
Cousineau owns 13,000 acres of timberland. It subcontracts for logging on its land and on tracts it purchases. All logging is mechanized. (From 1996 to 1998, the company did its own harvesting.)
The sawmill operates five days per week, year-round. A Fulghum debarker removes bark from the logs. The mill has two head rigs, one from Salem Equipment and one from McDonough Manufacturing. The McDonough head rig was added in 2002. Resawing is done on a Stenner 5-foot resaw and a PLH Industries 6-foot linebar resaw.
The company has a planer mill equipped with planers from Newman Machine and Oliver as well as two optimizing cut-off saws from Paul Saws & Saw systems.
The mill has its own drying operations. It is equipped with Irvington Moore (now USNR) dry kilns that have a combined capacity of 200,000 board feet. About 50% of the mill’s production is kiln dried and the other half is sold green.
The sawmill produces mainly 4/4 to 8/4 lumber in various widths and also has some remanufacturing equipment to produce wood components with miter cuts and other products.
The mill predominantly cuts oak, maple and birch but it also processes some ash, beech and aspen. Most timber comes from a 100-mile radius around North Anson. A full-time forester on staff at Cousineau selects and marks trees for harvesting. Chips from the sawmill are sold to pulp and paper mills or biofuel plants.
The CBI 4800 Magnum Force originally won the favor of Cousineau because of the company that stands behind it. The “sales force and sales support” at CBI really sold him on the machine, said Randy. In fact, before selecting CBI as a vendor, he went as far as the West Coast to compare machines and suppliers.
For all its durability and strength, the CBI 4800 Magnum Force is also flexible. It grinds leaves and brush as well as logs. Screen changes can be made in just 15 minutes. That kind of flexibility is important because Cousineau Inc. uses its grinder to produce fine mulch and pellet feed stock as well as boiler fuel.
Keeping things moving into and out of the CBI 4800 Magnum Force are its steady conveyors. The feed conveyor is 16 feet long and 60 inches wide, and the discharge conveyor is 50 feet long and 60 inches wide.
As strong a performer as the CBI 4800 is, Randy has been thinking he would like to upgrade to the newest version. “We’ll probably trade it in another year or so,” he said. “It will be another CBI, probably another 4800.”
Randy is very excited about the recent changes at Cousineau that have made home building a priority. “We’ve always done some of it,” he said. But doing clusters of residential units is new. If the local economy does not become too soft, he expects the pace of home building to pick up.
Chip brokering is also a part of the Cousineau’s operations. By buying and consolidating chips from mills in the Northeast and Canada, the company is able to ensure a steady supply to the markets it serves.
Clearing the material from the Searsport Pier was a bittersweet experience. An historic town, Searsport welcomed mariners as early as the late 18th century. The wooden pier dated to the turn of the 20th century, and at 100 years of age, it was ailing. Historic preservation might have dictated another wooden structure, but that was not to be.
In late summer of 2003, a new pier opened, one that had been shepherded by the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT). Instead of oak and creosote, it is a new, steel-reinforced concrete pier.
Cousineau is poised to retain its diverse nature and to be self-sustaining. It’s come a long way since Ernest and Velma Cousineau, Randy’s parents, started a wood products business in 1959. Initially, a hockey stick buyer was a large customer, but plastic and laminates supplanted wood in the sticks and forced the company to add breadth and depth. The first major addition at Cousineau was a long lumber mill.
Breadth, depth and flexibility are characteristics that Cousineau shares with CBI, a company that celebrates two decades this year. To match each buyer with an optimum machine, CBI gets to know a company so that it can understand the ways its grinder will be used. The facts gathered include throughput and sorting requirements. In essence, each grinder sold is customized.
That sort of technical know-how by CBI is appreciated at Cousineau, where maintenance on an extensive fleet of box trailers, moving floor trailers and dump trucks is handled by a dedicated staff. Even welding and fabrication are done in-house. Cousineau is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association and the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association.
Randy is a helicopter pilot, and he often flies a helicopter to survey wood lots. When he has free time, Randy enjoys golfing.
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