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Maryland Firewood Business Is 30 Years Strong
Snyder & Sons partners with Carl Neutzel services for Timberwolf equipment and support.
By Carolee Boyles
Date Posted: 4/1/2003
WHITE HALL, Maryland — When Butch Snyder started growing fruits and vegetables as a very young man, he realized he needed something to bring in money during the winter when he had no income from his farm. Looking around, he found that there was one thing that people needed every winter: firewood. So as a winter business, he started splitting and delivering firewood.
Today Butch is 55, and his firewood business is still thriving under the name Snyder & Sons. (At one time both his sons worked in the business with him.) Now his number one employee is his son-in-law, who works with him both on the farm and in the firewood business. His summer farm employees, most of whom are school-aged kids, also work in the firewood business.
Butch lives just outside New Park, Penn., less than a mile on the Maryland side of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border; it is a rural area dotted by many small villages and towns. His firewood business is located a little farther south, in White Hall, Md. He delivers firewood to customers in the Towson-Baltimore and Jacksonville-Phoenix areas of Maryland. Butch has a firewood processor, a log splitter and a belt conveyor on his 10-acre woodlot. "I haul my logs in there, process them, and cut them and split them a year prior to sale," Butch said. "So the wood I’m cutting now in March I won’t sell until next fall."
Many of Butch’s customers are as loyal to him as he is to them. "Some of the people I deliver firewood to having been buying wood from me for 30 years," he said. His business has grown by word-of-mouth referrals from customers, and he has never done any advertising. Most of his logs come from lots that are being cleared to build new houses. He also follows up logging contractors who have harvested small tracts. "I get the tops and the rest of the wood that’s not fit for lumber," said Butch. He processes mostly oak and sells 300-400 cords of firewood per year.
About 15 years ago, Butch needed some parts for a log splitter he was using at the time. However, the equipment dealer he had purchased the splitter from had gone out of business. Butch looked around for another parts supplier and found Carl Neutzel Landscape Services, about three miles from White Hall. Carl had the parts Butch needed, and he backed up his inventory with top-level repair service on the splitter. The two men forged a strong relationship that has endured.
"Being in business since March 1973 has taught us that we must offer quality cutting edge equipment," said Carl Neutzel. "In our quest to do this, we have pooled resources with manufacturers such as Timberwolf in Rutland, Vt. Their abilities are second to none and backed up by first class support."
His company also distributes forestry equipment from Norway and Finland, including Nokka loaders. They are used on forwarding trailers, trucks as small as 1 ton size, and a new road legal trailer developed by Carl’s company. The new trailer is a simple, well constructed unit built by Amish craftsmen in Pennsylvania and is available in 12-20,000 lbs. sizes with or without loaders. Carl Neutzel Landscape Services also supplies hand-forged axes from Sweden, Peavey logging tools, firewood wrappers and the Meri-Crusher recycling machine.
Eight or nine years ago, Butch bought a Timberwolf splitter from Carl. Because of the machine’s performance, Butch has become a believer in the brand. Besides the splitter, he now has a Timberwolf firewood processor and two belt conveyors. Butch has a Timberwolf TW-5 splitter, Timberwolf’s most popular model with a 10-second cycle time, and a Timberwolf PRO-MX firewood processor. The PRO-MX is a portable model with a 25-inch saw and powered by a diesel engine; Butch produces about two to two and one-half cords of firewood per hour with the machine.
Butch picked Timberwolf machines because Carl allowed him to try out the equipment before making a buying decision. "I’d been to a couple of farm shows and I’d seen the equipment demonstrated," Butch said. "I rented one with an option to buy it from Carl and tried it out." After that, he was convinced that Timberwolf was the equipment he wanted.
Butch’s relationship with Carl continues to benefit both men’s businesses. "I get all my service done through him," Butch said. "And a couple of times he’s taken my processor to shows when he didn’t have one. I’m very satisfied with my relationship with him, with the machines, and with all his repairs on them. He keeps plenty of parts for them, and if he doesn’t have the parts, he can have them shipped overnight."
Butch hopes his son-in-law will take over the firewood business one day. "I hope he can make a living at this and support his family the way I’ve been able to support mine," he said.
"The biggest challenge we face, and that he’ll continue to face, is getting adequate logs," he continued. "We’ve got to rely on small tract timber now. Plus, people are using a lot more corn stoves and pellet stoves. But there are still a lot of fireplaces and wood stoves out there, and people need to have firewood for them."
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