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Wood Shaving Business Enjoys Growth -- S.C. Company Partners with Jackson Lumber Harvester to Produce Shavings for Horses
South Carolina Shavings – Jackson Lumber Harvester Provides Turn-Key Operation for Wood Shavings
By Peter Hildebrandt
Date Posted: 12/1/2008
‘Tiger’ Kneece, 38, has been able to build a company that supplies wood shavings to the equine industry. He has been a polo player for — well, nearly as long as it’s possible to hold out in that grueling sport.
“I’ve taken more spills than I care to remember,” said Tiger. “It goes with the territory. I think I have broken every bone in my body over the years.”
Tiger grew up in
Gene has been in the lumber industry all his life. He owns Aiken Lumber Company, which has been in the family for four generations. Aiken Lumber manufactures lumber and sells chiefly to contractors.
Wood shavings are a by-product of Aiken Lumber’s operations. Gene sold the shavings for years to people who own horses, but in recent years he did not have enough to keep them supplied.
As a professional polo player, Tiger has been heavily involved with the sport and the equine industry.
Together, they decided to establish a separate business to produce wood shavings; the shaving mill is located on a 15-acre site less than a mile from Aiken Lumber.
“It has brought together my dad’s expertise in the wood industry’s part of things and mine on the equine end,” said Tiger. “This made a good fit for both of us.”
The company sells wholesale, concentrating on serving tack and feed stores throughout the Southeast as well as large horse farms. Most of the company’s volume is sold and shipped in the region around Aiken. With the high cost of fuel recently, the company’s geographic market has been limited, but Tiger also ships shavings to customers in
Tiger’s involvement in polo, including his travel throughout the
As a boy, everyone in Tiger’s family was into riding horses and activities such as fox hunting and show jumping. Tiger did not like fox hunting or show jumping, so his father had him try polo. He started playing when he was 10.
“Back in those days,” recalled Tiger, “they had a junior league for the sport. I liked the team aspect of it, hitting the ball around and the speed of the horse.” Tiger and his father played together when Tiger was growing up.
Tiger began to travel during the summer, working under a professional polo trainer from the ages of 15-18. When he graduated from high school, he decided to pursue polo as a profession. He has traveled throughout the
Shaving Mill, Drying
Tiger and Gene started their shavings business in 2004. They invested in a machine from Jackson Lumber Harvester Co. Jackson manufactures sawmill machinery and other equipment for the forest products industry.
When they first launched the business, they produced shavings from green wood and delivered them bulk by dump truck to horse farms. Eventually, people began asking if they could deliver shavings packaged in bags.
Tiger and Gene added bagging equipment. Shavings made from green wood cannot be packaged in plastic bags because they will mold, so for bagged product they used shavings from Aiken Lumber, which were a by-product of planing kiln-dried lumber. The business quickly grew, however, and soon they outran their supply of dry shavings.
They went back to Jackson Lumber Harvester, which installed a new system of machinery and equipment to produce dry shavings from green wood. The new rotary drum drying system became operational earlier this year.
South Carolina Shavings is now able to offer dry shavings in bulk to the local equine industry and dry bagged shavings to customers further away.
South Carolina Shavings has four full-time workers running the plant as well as a part-time secretary and a full-time truck driver. “Basically, the way we are running right now, it amounts to five days per week, and these consist of 10-hour shifts,” said Tiger.
Shavings for horses are made from softwood logs. “What we’re doing is getting full-length pine trees from area loggers and tree services, which we then cut down into 48-inch sections prior to being loaded onto a 20-foot log deck.”
The log deck feeds the
The sawdust is collected and sent through an auger system to a fuel bin, and it is used as fuel for the burner that creates heat for the drying system. By removing and using the sawdust with an efficient burner, there is no need for natural gas, propane or any other fuel.
The holding bin is used to temporarily store shavings. They are either loaded bulk into a delivery truck or put into a hopper and taken to the bagging equipment. The bagging system puts the shavings into plastic bags with a compression system and heat-seals the bags.
Their bagging operations are the only part of the mill that does not use
Premier Tech specializes in automated bagging equipment. The system the company supplied to Tiger’s business is designed to package more than five bags per minute; each bag contains about three cubic feet of compressed wood shavings.
“We also have a super baler creating four-by-four-foot bales as well as a mega baler with a four-by-four-by-eight-foot bag,” said John Marcotte, service technician for Premier Tech in
“We have our equipment in
Jackson Lumber Harvester
“This is a complete operation,” said Bill Becker, executive vice president of sales for Jackson Lumber Harvester. “Jackson Lumber installed this entire system, including a Webb Burner, which we manufacture as well. This is a biomass burner using sawdust for fuel.”
The size and capacity of the burner and dryer depends on what a customer needs and the volume of their production, noted Bill. “There are different size burners and dryers. We manufacture six different models of shaving mills, and there are several different models of dryers, too.”
“In the case of South Carolina Shavings, the dryer was a reconditioned one. We purchase the dryers used and then recondition them. This set-up in Aiken is one of many, many other similar set-ups out there. We have equipped many different plants this size or larger operating around the country.”
Jackson Lumber Harvester Co. was founded by inventor Clinton D. Jackson, creator of the Jackson Lumber Harvester, a portable sawmill. The company has been known since 1944 as a manufacturer of practical, uncomplicated sawmill machinery.
The company developed its shaving mill in response to the need for equipment to economically produce high-quality bedding material for livestock, horses and other farm operations. The
“We take the real fine material created from the shavings and use it for fuel,” said Bill. “It makes for easy clean-up as well.”
Overseas interest in the company’s technology has been strong in recent years. “We’ve recently had the best three years in our history,” said Bill. “This is driven by the fact that there is a worldwide shortage of bedding material.”
“Overseas they are interested in this technology and the fact that we’ve been out there involved with this equipment for quite awhile now,” he added. “We’re well known because we’re the original manufacturer of this machinery and have built many hundreds of them over the decades.”
Jackson Lumber Harvester has equipped mills in the
Polo and Business
Tiger plays tournament games two days per week, he practices two to three days per week, and he rides nearly every day. “I will admit, this is hard on your back and neck,” he said. “Polo players typically can stay at the sport fairly long, probably into their early 40s, but you start to get worn out and realize you’re now playing against men in their 20s.”
The sport has provided Tiger with a lot of opportunities to travel. He recently played in
“He really just gives you the run of the place when you visit,” said Tiger. “That includes horseback riding, camping and fishing in addition to polo. It’s absolutely awesome.”
Tiger and his wife, Susan, have four children. She stays busy taking care of the children and their farm, as well as traveling as a family to some of Tiger’s matches.
When he retires as a professional polo player, Tiger probably will take a more active leadership role in South Carolina Shavings and may expand the business, he indicated.
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