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South Carolina Logger Expands into Shavings: A&H Logging Adds Mill from Industrial Machinery & Engineering to Produce Pine Shavings

South Carolina Logger Adds Shaving Mill from Industrial Machinery & Engineering

By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 6/1/2009

SALLEY, South Carolina – Carol Hooker Jr. has been working in the logging industry since he was a teenager, but when he reached his mid-30s he decided it was time to go into business for himself.

            “I woke up one morning and decided why am I making money for someone else when I can do it for myself…I’m more of a leader than a follower. You have to have a little ambition in life.”

            Carol, 42, has been operating A&H Logging for six years. A few months ago, he decided to expand his business in a new direction: wood shavings. Carol purchased a shaving mill kit from Industrial Machinery & Engineering, and the new mill has been operating since March, producing pine shavings.

            “It’s pretty simple,” said Carol. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to run this thing. You put wood in, and it shaves it. It’s automatic. It’s kind of like a baby—you just have to watch it.”

            Carol lives and works out of Salley, S.C., which is about 30 miles south of Columbia. He began working in the logging industry when he was about 16 and has operated skidders, loaders, cutters and other equipment.

            When he started A&H Logging, he had some money saved for his retirement, and he used some of those funds to start the business. He bought three used machines – a Franklin skidder, a Barko cutter and a Barko loader. He hired two men to work with him. When they started, they mainly clear-cut tracts of hardwood timber.

            Carol has changed his equipment since then and added more employees. He now has three men working in the woods and four truck drivers. The company has a Hydro-Axe cutter, a Timberjack cutter, a pair of Timberjack skidders and two Prentice loaders as well as tractor-trailers. A&H still performs clear-cuts in hardwood but is also doing more select cuts and thinning in pine plantations.

            “I have a good group of guys that works for me,” said Carol. The crew works five or six days a week when business is good. Carol leaves the house at 5:30 a.m. and gets home around 5 p.m.

            Carol buys standing timber and forest land and also contracts for logging services. He sells mainly pulp wood to the four paper mills in the region. His markets are down, he acknowledged.

            Carol was prompted to get into the wood shaving business because there are quite a few poultry growers in the region, and they have had difficulty obtaining enough wood shavings. The wood shavings are used to cover the floor of a chicken ‘house’ to absorb animal waste; the litter is removed when the chickens are grown and taken to slaughter, and the building is replenished with fresh wood shavings.

            In addition, logging has been slow, he noted. His company has delivered as much as 1,300-1,400 tons of wood per week but in recent months has only been doing about 500 tons.

            Carol saw ads for shaving mills in TimberLine and also began looking on the Internet for companies that manufacture them. He called several manufacturers and talked with representatives over a two or three month period, including Bill Roberts of Industrial Machinery & Engineering.

            “Bill’s a real nice fellow, and he’s got a good machine,” said Carol, “so I went with him. He’s a man of his word. If he says he’s going to do something, he stands behind it. That’s what he does.”

            Carol purchased the Industrial Machinery & Engineering model 8260HO. It has two cutter heads and can produce 50 cubic yards of shavings per hour, according to the manufacturer. The cutter heads slide out for easy access and changing the knives. The mill is powered by two 75 hp electric motors and has a 50 hp hydraulics package.

            The mill has a ‘box’ to hold the logs. When it is filled with wood, the box moves back and forth over the cutter heads to shave the logs, and the shavings fall onto a pair of outfeed conveyors.

            The model Carol purchased will hold 1-1/2 cords of wood or about 7-8,000 pounds. Carol uses logs up to 25 inches in diameter, bucked to 8-foot lengths. Shavings are normally top-loaded into walking-floor trailers.

            The shaving business has spread in part by word-of-mouth referrals. “It’s a good market,” said Carol, although he is concerned it could become flooded with shavings suppliers in the future.        He is currently running the shaving mill two or three days per week, depending on the volume of orders. Besides supplying poultry growers with shavings, customers also include people who own horses.

            Carol’s son, Christopher, 18, runs the shaving mill and sometimes his wife, Sherrie, and daughter, Jennifer, 16. Chris uses a knuckleboom loader with a CSI slasher saw to cut the logs to length. A Cat skidsteer is used to pick up the logs and load them into the mill’s infeed box.

            Carol had a 50x60 pole building constructed to house the shaving mill. It took Carol, with help from a friend who is an electrician, about three days to get the mill set up, wired and running. “Bill is really a good fellow,” said Carol. “He has bent over and helped me a lot.”

            “It has done everything Bill said it would do,” he added.

            He runs the shaving mill for about 12-15 loads, then sharpens the knives. After running that much, the knives are not completely dull, but production begins to slip noticeably.

            He has two sets of knives, so the mill can keep running while one set is being sharpened. Carol bought a sharpener from Industrial Machinery & Engineering and does the work himself.

            Carol buys pine on the stump and uses his company to cut and haul it to the mill. “There’s no shortage of pine,” he said. “I can get all the pine I need.”

            He is considering investing in equipment to dry the shavings and bag them; Industrial Machinery also manufactures drying and bagging systems. If he expands into drying and bagging, he would still supply the poultry growers with green, bulk shavings.

            Carol has few hobbies or leisure pursuits. His son races go-karts, and Carol goes with him to races. He enjoys just cooking out on the grill for Sunday dinner. Sometimes they take a trip to the mountains.

            Carol is a member of the South Carolina Timber Producers and has completed its logger training program.

            Business is “pretty much on the bottom right now,” said Carol, with the company essentially on quotas for pine pulp wood, which they haul 85 miles to a mill.


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