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Vacutherm Expands with Midwest Dealer: Manufacturer of Vacuum Lumber Kilns Reaching Out to the Midwest
Vacutherm supplies custom lumber drying products and provides various services, such as kiln certification, application development, and remote kiln operation and optimization.
Date Posted: 6/2/2017
Vacutherm Inc., a New England-based company that manufactures vacuum lumber drying kilns and conventional kiln controls, has expanded its reach into the Midwest with the establishment of a dealer in Ohio.
The company also is building on the success of the vacuum lumber drying kilns it has supplied for drying hardwoods in Ohio and at a plant for one of the country’s leading manufacturers of hardwood flooring.
Vacutherm, founded in 1980 and located in Warren, Vermont, is a family-owned and operated business with partners on almost every continent. It is led by owner and president Jim Parker.
In addition to supplying vacuum lumber drying technology and conventional kiln controls, Vacutherm supplies custom lumber drying products and provides various services, such as kiln certification, application development, and remote kiln operation and optimization. The company shares expertise about lumber drying through its kiln drying network and is active in a number of regional and national trade organizations: the Wood Products Manufacturers Association, New England Kiln Drying Association, Great Lakes Kiln Drying Association, and Ohio Valley Lumber Drying Association.
Earlier this year Vacutherm named Firman Mast of Dundee, Ohio, as the company’s dealer for the Midwest. Firman, who has operated a successful lumber drying business that relies on Vacutherm kilns, will represent the company throughout Ohio and other states in the Midwest.
Firman’s company, Superior Lumber, has been a Vacutherm customer since 2014, when he purchased a VacuPress 8000 dry kiln for his custom lumber drying business. The kiln and the vacuum lumber drying technology performed so well that Firman ordered a second Vacutherm kiln seven months after the first one began operating. With the addition of the second unit, Superior Lumber’s customer base has more than tripled, and the company is preparing to expand further and add a third VacuPress kiln this fall.
Superior Lumber’s business has changed, too. Firman’s company initially provided custom lumber drying services. With the increase in drying capacity when the company added its second kiln last year, the customer base has evolved. Custom lumber drying now represents only 30 percent of revenues. Superior Lumber now buys green hardwood lumber and dries and processes it for a variety of markets, domestic and export to Asia and Europe. The company supplies walnut, cherry, maple, ash, hickory, poplar, and grey elm to companies that remanufacture the lumber into panels and moulding, and it supplies hickory and other hardwood species for flooring.
Superior Lumber also supplies a niche product, live-edge slabs, which is a 2-inch thick slab sawn from a large-diameter log with the edges left in rough or natural form. They are supplied to businesses that use them to make components for furniture like dining tables and bench-style seats as well as countertops.
The Vacutherm kilns have performed so well for Superior Lumber that Firman has been able to turn over the day-to-day operations of the business to his two partners, his father, Dennis, and brother, Mervin, as he began his new duties representing Vacutherm in the Midwest region.
“We want to thank all the great customers who have turned to us for custom lumber drying or buying our lumber,” said Firman. “Our success has depended on their success, so we have been constantly striving to produce the best kiln-dried lumber. Their feedback has allowed our kiln operations to be improving continuously to perfect each customer’s order and produce high quality lumber dried to their specification.”
Vacutherm’s specialty is vacuum kilns. The company has four product lines. AirVac kilns produce dry lumber three times faster than conventional kilns, and VacuPress kilns are 10 times faster than conventional methods. Vacutherm also offers the TOUCHDRY® conventional kiln control system, which can reduce kiln energy consumption by up to 40 percent.
For customers requiring maximum throughput of kiln dried material, Vacutherm offers the integrated VacuPress Drying Center. Just 2 to 4 employees can operate a VacuPress Drying Center and produce 10 million board feet per year.
The VacuPress Drying Center is an engineered solution that includes automated stacking of lumber and operation of the heating plates, trolley loading system that can be operated by one person, steam or hot water connections to an existing customer boiler, TOUCHDRY controls and remote monitoring, and heating plates for an extra load.
Key benefits of a VacuPress include no need for a steam boiler, no cupping or warping of lumber, and improved quality of lumber color. In addition, it requires less inventory and labor, but improves yield and throughput, increasing cash flow. Lumber can be purchased green and sold kiln-dried within a week.
Vacutherm began equipping kilns with its new EZDry software last year. The software enables users to process more difficult-to-dry species and optimize the lumber drying process in terms of time, quality, and energy consumption with less operator training.
The TOUCHDRY kiln control system is compatible with both conventional and vacuum kilns and can be purchased as a stand-alone unit. It utilizes Kiln Scout moisture meters, Lignomat wireless moisture meters, EMC (Equilibrium Moisture Content) sensors, and an 8.4inch color touch screen. This system is easy to use and requires very little training.
Vacutherm kilns are simple to control; help buttons on every page offer instructions on drying and the TOUCHDRY program. Wet bulb-dry bulb can be set manually, or a pre-set drying schedule can be run in automatic mode. Energy management control systems ensure efficiency, and existing VFD-controlled fans can be utilized for further energy savings. Vacutherm can build an entire new control panel, an investment that can be recouped by reduced electricity consumption. The TOUCHDRY software, which increases lumber quality and reduces drying time, provides historical graphing of heating temperature, wood core temperature, moisture content, and equilibrium moisture content; graphs display average moisture content on every screen. Moisture monitoring controls are fully integrated and wireless, 20-point and user-calibrated for extreme accuracy. Large plate-type sensors provide a reliable sample size, and controls automatically calibrate for wood temperature and species.
Vacutherm manufactures the kilns and ships them complete. The company provides assistance with setup and training. Training normally takes two weeks and is provided at Superior Lumber in Dundee, Ohio. Firman also can give advice on designing the lumber drying facility.
Today Vacutherm has enough orders for large VacuPress kilns to keep them booked until next January. They are currently taking deposits for positions in their new fabrication facility for kilns to be started in September and delivered early next year.
Vacutherm, which continues to explore ways to innovate and improve its technology, is readily accessible to customers. Company officials may be easily reached by phone at (802) 496-4241. Vacutherm engineers appreciate feedback from customers, said Firman, who noted that Vacutherm recently responded to a customer who called at 10 p.m. Firman is available to provide additional assistance to customers in the Midwest.
For more information, visit the Vacutherm website at www.vacutherm.com.
Firman Mast may be contacted by calling (330) 988-2379, emailing to email@example.com, or writing to Vacutherm Midwest, 1138 Township Road 660, Dundee, Oh., 44624.
To contact Superior Lumber, call (330) 275-0343, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write Superior Lumber, 1003 Township Road 660, Dundee, Oh., 44624.
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