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Two Wood-Mizer Owners Make Green with Orange
Starting a business and building it from the ground up takes a leap of faith. Both Dan LeClair and Tom Garrison took that leap, jumping behind a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill that lead them to victory and how they have become successful sawing operations.
By Jenna Gehlhausen
Date Posted: 1/1/2011
Starting a business and building it from the ground up takes a leap of faith. Both Dan LeClair and Tom Garrison took that leap, jumping behind a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill. As a result, they were two winners in Wood-Mizer’s biannual Business Best contest. Read on about the path that lead them to victory and how they have become successful sawing operations.
Stick N Stack Country Wood Products
“I’m the old man,” jokes Dan Le Clair, owner of Stick N Stack Country Wood Products, founded in 2007 in Pennellville, New York. “Everyone else is 24 or younger. Three of the employees are my sons.”
The Le Clair family runs an LT40 Super Hydraulic, and an LT15 for 10-11 hours a day, working with the larger mill five days a week and the smaller one three days a week. Together, they produce between 6,000 and 7,000 board feet a day in lumber by using Wood-Mizer mills and both Wood-Mizer DoubleHard and RazorTip blades. This lumber becomes grade lumber, pallet lumber, softwood for custom needs, railroad ties, and specialty orders. They also run a Twin Blade Edger and HR120 resaw.
One of the most rewarding parts of Dan’s business is the fact that he gets to work with his children. “I really enjoy this business with my kids,” he says. “It’s really a dream come true.” Having a great team is what helps this young business expand quickly. They recently added an LT70 which is the most productive portable sawmill in the Wood-Mizer line and can produce up to 850 board feet per hour.
For now, the company’s focus is on continuing to produce the high-quality lumber that their customers have grown to expect.
“A good quality machine makes good quality lumber,” says Dan. “I’ve never owned anything [other than a Wood-Mizer] and probably never will. People come back because our lumber is good quality.”
Running a milling operation has had its ups and downs, but Dan says of running his own business, “It’s a challenge, but really rewarding. I get a really good feeling when a customer picks their lumber up and is pleased with it. [I feel] satisfaction from a job well done!”
In addition to running Stick N Stack Wood Products, Dan Le Clair, a five year veteran of sawing, is also a minister. He tries to incorporate biblical principles in his family’s lives and in the life of his business, which has truly been blessed.
Tom Garrison Logging & Lumber
Tom Garrison’s sawing business was born from humble beginnings and the dream to provide the best life possible for his wife and three daughters.
“In 1999, I was in the process of building a new home for my family,” Tom, a resident of Sarcoxie, MO, explains. “We had previously lived in a trailer for ten years. I had done several jobs being self-employed that had helped us survive, but none that would provide the life I wanted to give my family.”
Tom was working at a cattle operation when he heard from a friend about Wood-Mizer portable sawmills. He then contacted Will Baugh of Wood-Mizer’s Missouri branch, who had mills on-site to show. Will also sat down with Tom and his friend to explain how you could make money by starting a sawing business. Still though, it was a huge leap for Tom.
“I was very nervous about this decision, but I went to the bank to get a loan for a new LT40,” he remembers. “I put in my notice at [the cattle operation] and my Wood-Mizer experience began.”
Tom started out with an LT40, a chainsaw, and a 1970’s Chevy pick-up. From there, he borrowed other equipment as needed – a winch truck and a two ton truck. By the beginning of 2001, he realized just how much profit there was to be made and decided to buy his partner’s half of the mill, therefore going into business by himself. He hired on his uncle James, and the two began sawing for custom orders, buying standing timber and working on-site, and making cants, railroad ties, and flooring.
In 2004, the growth of the company gave Tom the opportunity to hire on more workers, including his son-in-law Mike Baker who began as an off-bearer and then moved into the position of sawyer. They were then able to expand further and meet a growing demand by purchasing a WM3000 (formerly LT300.) Today, the company retains nine employees, who work in one of two daily shifts. Because of the shifts, the mills run nearly nine hours a day sawing approximately 8,000 board feet a day in red oak, white oak, hickory, walnut, and pecan species.
Tom’s business, built from the ground up, is something to behold. He credits hard work and the right equipment for helping him become the resounding success his company has become today.
“My entire livelihood is based on Wood-Mizer sawmills,” he says. “And the harder you’re willing to work, the more you will get out of it. No matter where my life takes me, Wood-Mizer will always be a huge part of it.”
“Editor’s note: The preceding was paid advertorial by Wood-Mizer.”
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