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Author Topic: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report  (Read 8496 times)

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Offline pnyberg

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New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« on: December 28, 2010, 04:51:30 pm »
Given my posting history, this is going to surprise some people, and perhaps disappoint a few, but I find that I really don't have much to say.  After having spent countless hours scouring the FF archives for every bit of information I could get, I've not run into much that I hadn't learned to anticipate.  Ho Hum, it's all old already.  :)

I launched the business as a 'weekends only' operation in January of last year.  My first job came in March.  Since then I've worked as a sawyer on 43 days, setting up my mill in about 25 different locations.  I've done three small jobs at home, which I didn't expect to do at all.  That's more work than I had anticipated, so my income is higher that projected, but so are my expenses. 

I think that from an IRS perspective I'm in the red by a few thousand for the year.  On a cash flow basis, I think I'm closer to break even.  Since I had no customers for the first two months of the year, and I had a bunch of one-time start-up expenses, I'm pretty satisfied with this. 

Some additional random thoughts:

  • #1 lesson: After you've checked to make sure all of your outriggers are all the way up before driving off, check again.  Don't ask me how this has become such an important rule for me.
  • I'm traveling farther that I thought I would be.  The idea of starting a portable sawmill business sprang into my head in part because I had trouble finding a mill closer that 60 miles away (that would be Dennis, a.k.a. TerrifficTimbers).  It turns out that people will pay for me to drag my mill a lot farther than that.  I can only go about 100 miles to get to the farthest corner of Connecticut, but I've done that several times.  Up until now I've turned down opportunities to work in surrounding states, but I plan to get properly registered to do business in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Fortunately, I generally enjoy driving.
  • I worked with a lawyer to set up my LLC, and at some point in the process he asked me if I was sure I wanted to use a company name that would tend to limit me geographically.  My response was that I didn't think it would be a problem, since I didn't plan to cover all of Connecticut, and certainly didn't intend to go out of state.  Oops.
  • I like moving logs.  I bring my LogRite Fetching Arch to every job, unless I know for sure that I won't need it. I particularly like using a snatch block or two to redirect the tow line.
  • My website is by far my best marketing tool.  It's pretty cheap, if you don't count all the time I've spent developing and maintaining it.  I get a few hundred visits a month, and on average a visitor will spend about 5 minutes on the site and view 5 or 6 pages.  About half of my visitors are in Connecticut.  Few of these people become customers, so I'm left to wonder who the rest are.  About half of my visitors find me via Google search; 12% via the Forestry Forum; 3% via my Facebook page; and 0.5% via my Craigslist add.  I plan on having a conversation with Jeff about getting onto the 'Shameless Commerce' list, so maybe that percentage will go up.
  • I put a lot of information about my business and about turning logs into lumber on my website, and customers seem to appreciate this, but that doesn't mean that they will actually read much of it.

As I mentioned in a prior post, this year's results have been good enough to allow me to take the plunge and go full time next year.  This is not a 'bet the ranch' type decision.  If I never had another sawmill customer, my mortgage payments would not be in jeaopary, though if I'm not reasonably successful, my standard of living (measured in $) would suffer at the margins.  But obviously, I'm cautiously optimistic. 

Wishing everyone a happy new year...

--Peter
2009 WM LT40G28-RA sawmill - accuset 2, debarker, lubemizer, board-return, 4 FA outriggers
LogRite Fetching Arch, 72" MegaHook, 48" cant hook, 48" peavey, 36" Hookaroon, 30" Mill Special
Stihl MS270C & MS170 chainsaws
Kubota B2630 with FEL & BH
www.ctlogs2lumber.com

Offline old joe

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2010, 06:36:39 pm »
Peter, I like your style...conservatively optomistic.  Good luck.

Joe
THE NEW YANKEE TIL A NEWER ONE ARRIVES THEN I\'LL BE THE OLD YANKEE

Offline Cedarman

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2010, 07:32:54 pm »
Peter,  good post.  I think you're adapability and planning are serving you well.
I hope 2011 is even better for you.
I am in the pink when sawing cedar.

Offline Captain

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2010, 08:03:29 pm »
Congrats on your first year successes and learnings Peter.

Captain

Offline Brucer

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2010, 02:21:22 am »
I lost money (on paper) my first year in business. I actually had a bit of money left in the bank -- it was depreciation that gave me a loss. After that I've shown a profit every year.

I found that no one method of advertising brings in everybody. Word of mouth is good (and cheap), being visible when you work is good (and cheap). Business cards are good (and cheap if you print your own), but you need a reason to give them out. It didn't come easy at first, but I got pretty good at bringing up the topic of my new business. My FF web site has generated a few inquiries, but only one job. Mind you, that one job generated more income than my previous best year in business. :).

Bruce    LT40HDG28 bandsaw with two 6' extensions, ED22 twin blade edger.
"Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers."

Offline weisyboy

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2010, 05:21:13 am »
good job mate.

i have been lucky to be able to start of small, verry small and slowly grow and expand my business, it has worked well and we now rarely do the things i started doing.

good luck with going full time next year.

Offline bandmiller2

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2010, 06:12:06 am »
Peter,to do as well as you have in the worst of times is something to be proud of.Frank C.
A man armed with common sense is packing a big piece

Offline Meadows Miller

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2010, 06:46:20 am »
Gday

Top Job Peter  ;) ;D 8) 8)  don't worry about it not sounding like your going great guns with it All good things take time Mate  ;) And remember you only worked the mill for 43 days  ;) And its good it has given You the the figures to bite the bullet and go full time next year which Im thinking will be a good one for You  ;) ;D ;D 8) 8)  like Carl said start small one step at a time and it will not be long till you are where you want to be with it Mate  ;) ;D 8) 8)

Regards Chris
4TH Generation Timbergetter

Offline flibob

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 12:00:52 pm »
Nice post you are well organized and ambitious.

I find that wearing my WM ball cap when I go to gets leads from people who are looking for a sawyer.
The ranch is so big and I'm such a little cowboy

Offline terrifictimbersllc

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2010, 03:33:10 pm »
Pretty good in my book for first year just on weekends. 8) 8)
DJ Hoover, Terrific Timbers LLC,  Mystic CT   W-M LT40SHDD w/42HP Kubota, Peterson WPF 10-30 with chain slabber. LogRite fetching arch, capstan PortaWinch, W-M CBN sharpener/dual setter. Rens P4000 Metal detector.

Offline LAZERDAN

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2010, 06:35:47 pm »
If it's worth anything I like reading you posts.  Somehow I knew it would be a good documentary.  Did you ever think of you-tube?   I should check out your website before posting this.  Keep us updated !                       Lazerdan

Offline Magicman

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2010, 09:19:52 pm »
Thanks for your "lay it on the line" thread Peter.  I too have enjoyed watching your progress and you overcoming your growing pains.  You are a planner, a listener, and a thinker and your business shows it. 

Here's wishing you the best for 2011.   smiley_thumbsup
Knothole Sawmill, LLC     '98 Wood-Mizer LT40SuperHydraulic/Lombardini/Kohler

Never allow your "need" to make money to exceed your "desire" to provide quality service.....The Magicman

Offline woodmills1

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2011, 08:28:03 pm »
I would love to post my real numbers here
ifin ya read back I come very close to doing that

lets just say pny keep doing it
I started much like you

and will say this year of 11 sees 2010 being 11grand higher than last

wooden it be nice
James Mills    Lovely wife   collect old tools  vaccuming fool  36 bd ft per hour
 oak paper cutter,   apple jacks   ebonic yooper rapper nauga seller, Blue Ox? its not fast, 2 cat family,  LT70 and edger, 375 bd ft/hr, we like Bob, did I say free heat machine no oil 9 years, big splitter

Offline jmmy6767

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2011, 10:25:00 pm »
Thanks for the post.   Looks like you have a good thing going and I hope itdoes nothing but get better.   I just went through your webiste also.   Very well done.   Good luck in the future.     Jimmy    Ps.  how do you like that mill?   Easy to operate? quality of lumber it turns out for you?   
jimmy

Offline pnyberg

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Re: New Portable Sawmill Business Year End Report
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2011, 06:32:32 am »
Ps.  how do you like that mill?   Easy to operate? quality of lumber it turns out for you?   

The mill has given me no cause for complaint.  The command control station and Accuset set works make the sawyer's life pretty easy.  These options were good investments.  Any problems with lumber quality are the fault of either the log or the sawyer, not the mill.

--Peter
2009 WM LT40G28-RA sawmill - accuset 2, debarker, lubemizer, board-return, 4 FA outriggers
LogRite Fetching Arch, 72" MegaHook, 48" cant hook, 48" peavey, 36" Hookaroon, 30" Mill Special
Stihl MS270C & MS170 chainsaws
Kubota B2630 with FEL & BH
www.ctlogs2lumber.com