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Shrink Wrapping Boosted Firewood Business
Shrink wrap machine from Twister Industries helps Minnesota man grow firewood company
By Diane Calabrese
Date Posted: 1/7/2003
WATERVILLE, Minn. ó Summer is the firewood season for D&D Wood, which is owned by Dennis Delaske Sr. "I only sell in the summer months," said Dennis.
His business supplies wholesale stretch-wrapped bundles of firewood from mid-April to mid-Sept. to campgrounds, resorts and gas stations that in turn sell the firewood to tourists in southeastern Minnesota. Even in the rustic campground environment, an increasing number of tourists and campers find packaged firewood more convenient than carrying and handling firewood by the armful, bushel basket or wheel barrow.
The biggest boost to his business came 10 years ago when he purchased his first 16-inch stretch wrapping machine from Twister Industries, according to Dennis. In fact, he bought the first machine manufactured by Twister Industries, which is also located in Minnesota.
"If I didnít have a...Twister, I couldnít do the business I do," said Dennis. "The Twister made it possible." The Twister Industries equipment will bundle together 10-12 pieces of firewood in a neat package.
Dennis previously used bailing twine and tied firewood bundles by hand and with the aid of a home-made jig. If he did 20 bundles per hour, he was "doing good," he said.
Now, Dennis and his wife, Nancy, working together, can wrap about 50 bundles per hour on the Twister Industries 16-inch machine. Working alone, he averages 25-40 bundles per hour. "We get so busy at times," said Dennis, two wrapping machines are needed. He bought a second Twister Industries 16-inch six years ago.
The Twister Industries machines that Dennis uses in his business wrap large bundles of firewood, but the company also offers models to package smaller bundles. Of course, production is faster when smaller bundles are begin wrapped.
The Twister Industries machines begin with a 12-inch model and are calibrated at 1-inch intervals up to an 18-inch machine. All models handle firewood up to 16-18 inches long and as short as 12 inches. They can use 8, 10 or 12-inch-wide shrink wrap. The 16-inch machine wraps up to 2.3 cubic feet of firewood.
Dennis worked at a water softener company for 30 years. He started D&D Wood as a part-time business while he worked at his full-time job. He expanded the firewood enterprise after he was laid off. The biggest boost to D&D Wood came 10 years ago, he said, when he bought his first machine from Twister Industries. "The best investment I ever made," he said, was the firewood wrapping equipment.
The machine runs directly off the electric power supply, and that makes it very simple to operate. It can be used at remote locations with a generator, and it is portable, mounted on wheels. Dennis wraps seasoned and green wood. He discovered that he can wrap green wood and then season it. The stretch wrap conforms to changes in the shape of the wood.
"I do my own cutting," said Dennis. He relies on Stihl chain saws for felling trees and uses tractors to skid the logs. He has a Chevrolet two-ton truck for moving wood. Hardwoods like ash, oak and maple are split with hydraulic splitters. Dennis has a 26-ton splitter from Brave Co. and a 30-ton splitter from Northern Hydraulics.
He has a lot of old equipment in working condition, including a tractor with a circle saw mounted on it. At one time, he used it to provide a portable sawmill service with a circle sawmill.
"I like working with wood," said Dennis, who heats his home with a wood-burning furnace from Hot Blast, but the firewood business keeps him too busy now to hire out his circle sawmill.
D&D Wood is located in Waterville, about one hour south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It has approximately 1,500 residents. In summer the population grows to 3,500 when tourists arrive.
Dennis runs D&D Wood as a one-man operation with help from Nancy and their daughter, Ashley, when he is very busy and they are available. Dennis also drives a bus four hours per day, transporting students with special needs.
He likes to take time off for fishing, hunting and traveling with Nancy. Both he and Nancy are avid deer hunters. New Orleans and other Southern destinations are favorite winter vacation spots for Dennis and Nancy. In fact, his constant companion in the woods is a dog named Dixie Chick.
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