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Pallet Market Remains Important Focus of Burgeoning Beasley Forest Products
Beasley Forest Products: Rabun Beasley entered the hardwood sawmill business by first concentrating on pallet logs; his company has grown remarkably, but the pallet market remains an important focus.
Date Posted: 11/1/2008
HAZLEHURST, Georgia – Maybe Rabun Beasley could have entered the hardwood sawmill business earlier, but he’s certainly done pretty well for himself in 10 years.
That’s a vast understatement. Rabun had been a logger for 30 years when he launched Beasley Forest Products Inc. in 1998. In 10 years, he and his management team have catapulted the business into the second largest hardwood grade sawmill in the
Rabun was one of the largest logging contractors and timber buyers in the Southeast when he decided to enter the sawmill business. “He wanted to move vertically into the industry,” said Lee Miles, who is responsible for pallet lumber sales.
Interestingly, the mill’s initial focus was on sawing pallet logs. “He already had markets for pulp logs and grade logs,” Lee explained.
When Rabun started Beasley Forest Products, he bought an old pine mill located on 20 acres. Most of the machinery and equipment was removed. The company began chipping operations and installed two Cooper breakdown machines simultaneously – a Cooper Yield Champ and a Cooper overhead, end-dogging scragg. They brought the Cooper Yield Champ on line first and then the second Cooper machine.
Today, the company’s operations comprise 40 acres. It has three major log breakdown machines under one roof along with all the rest of the lumber manufacturing machinery and equipment, plus lumber drying operations. The company employs seven timber buyers who buy timber and forest land and has 21 logging crews – one employee-operated crew plus contract loggers. Beasley Forest Products employs 180 people in two shifts, working five days a week and producing some 90 million board feet of lumber annually. The company manufactures grade lumber as well as pallet cut stock and other industrial lumber products, such as railroad ties and crane mats.
Beasley Forest Products is located in Hazlehurst in southeast
Beasley Forest Products controls and personally harvests over 75% of the logs sawn in the company’s mill. The other 25% are purchased from other sources. The company maintains a 15-acre log yard with a sprinkler system to ensure consistent log flow into the mill year-round.
In the yard, logs are de-barked with a Nicholson A5B de-barker. Logs headed for the company’s chip mill are de-barked in a drum de-barker.
The logs initially are processed by three major pieces of equipment in the sawmill. A Cooper Yield Champ, a sharp chain scragg, is used to square up small diameter logs; this is where most of the pallet cants and some cross ties are produced. (A Brewer-Inc. Golden Eagle single-head cut-off saw is used to cut cants and railroad ties to length.) The second breakdown machine is a Cooper overhead, end dogging scragg, which cuts bigger logs up to 28 inches in diameter. The third breakdown machine is a McDonough 7-foot band mill and carriage that cuts even larger logs up to 50 inches in diameter.
Since its inception, the pallet industry has been a vital part of the overall marketing strategy of Beasley Forest Products. The company manufactures more than 25 million board feet of industrial lumber products annually that are sold to the pallet, crating and related industries.
The company produces 3-1/2 x 5-1/2 and 3-1/2 x 6 cants, which enable pallet customers to maximize yield when they process them into pallet components. The company also produces 4/4 and 5/4 pallet boards, sorting by width and length for customers to increase their production and yield. About one-half of the pallet lumber production is pre-cut stock.
Most cut stock is produced one of two ways. Two Cornell (now Pendu) center linebar resaws are used to resaw 4/4 and 5/4 boards into pallet deck boards. Also, a
The company produces ½-inch and 5/8-inch pallet deck boards. The deck boards are graded No. 1 or No. 2 and stacked accordingly; the No. 1 boards are sold for new pallets, and the No. 2 boards are sold primarily for repair stock for pallet recycling.
The company also produces notched stringers with a new Brewer Inc.-Golden Eagle double-head notching machine; it makes 48-inch 1-3/8x3-1/2 and 1-1/8x3-1/2 notched stringers.
The cut stock manufacturing operations are accomplished from logs to lumber without having to double handle the products.
Beasley Forest Products serves pallet and crating customers in the Southeast, including
Beasley Forest Products operates a small fleet of flatbed tractor-trailer trucks to guarantee same-day delivery to pallet customers in
The mill is equipped with a host of other machinery and equipment to complete the process of manufacturing grade lumber from the larger diameter logs. The company’s grade lumber is produced from a large variety of Southern hardwood species, including red oak, white oak, poplar, cypress and ash. Grade lumber is manufactured to 4/4 thickness and is sold random width in stock lengths of 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 feet; cypress is an exception, sold in stock widths of 6, 8, 10 and 12 inches. The company also offers custom cypress timbers. Grade lumber is available green or kiln dried; the company has six dry kilns with combined capacity of 520,000 board feet.
By-products include bark, chips and sawdust and are sold to various markets in the Southeast.
Beasley Forest Products is located within five miles of three major rivers, the
Key personnel at Beasley Forest Products include: Rabun, owner and president, and his son, Darrell, vice president. Other members of the management team include timber procurement manager Zach Johnson, pallet sales representative Lee Miles, grade lumber sales representative Linwood Truitt, by-product sales representative Ronnie Sellers, plant manager Phil Clements, maintenance supervisor Ricky Lilliott and office manager Jo Beasley.
Beasley Forest Products continues to make steady improvements in machinery and equipment. For example, this year it added two more SII dry kilns, replaced the old Cooper Yield Champ with a new, improved Cooper Yield Champ and replaced its notcher with the new Brewer notching machine. In 2007 the company installed the new McDonough band mill and carriage, which increased production by 500,000 board feet per week.
Since the hardwood grade market has weakened, Beasley Forest Products has adapted its operations. “You’ve got to come up with a game plan,” noted Lee. “Diversifying is part of the key there.”
He is optimistic that the economy and the hardwood grade market will rebound in 2009 and perhaps as soon as after the general election. “We’re going to see the home building industry come back,” he said, although it may not come back to the peak of 2005-06. In fact, there already has been some improvement, particularly in the market segment for high priced homes, Lee added.
Beasley Forest Products is committed to sound forest management. Foresters and loggers are certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Master Timber Harvesting program.
For more information, call Beasley Forest Products at (912) 375-5174, visit www.beasleyforestproducts.com or e-mail Lee Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org.