Cliff Clune, president and general manger ofClune Lumber in Otego, New York points to the expansion of markets as animportant benefit his company gained from kiln drying.
"It's opened upmarkets all over the world to us," he
Drying dramatically increased his
company'sprofits, according to Cliff
.When the company manufactured green lumber, it hadto be shipped elsewhere to be dried, restricting potential markets and profits."It's a value added to the lumber that greatly expands our options aswell as our profitability," said Cliff
."It's given us much moreflexibility than we had before in managing our operation well."Clune Lumber
chose dehumidification kilns fortwo major reasons.First, the systems cost considerably less to build and alsocost less to operate than conventional kilns, according to Cliff
.Second, thehardwoods used by his
company are best dried with dehumidification technology."It keeps the lumber brighter and we see less degrade than with other kindsof drying," said Cliff
Brighter lumber and reduced degrade areextremely important to a company with a global market, Cliff
noted.Of course,degrade reduces profitability because whatever material must be removed from afinished piece of wood to bring it back up to standard represents money that wasspent on buying the raw material and processing it; material that must beremoved because of degrade now is nothing more than waste.Quality is criticalbecause of the high cost of shipping to overseas markets; the cost to the millof a rejected board is much higher, and its tarnished reputation as a suppliermay prove even more costly.
Forcompanies thinking of adding drying operations, Cliff
advised doing it instages.Cash flow may be a problem when a mill goes from sawing green lumber todrying, he
admitted.Green lumber is shipped directly to customers while drylumber may be marketed through a longer chain to customers around the world, soit takes longer to get paid.At Clune Lumber, Cliff
gradually moved the companyinto drying.The company dried only about 15% of its production in the earlyyears, building it up to the point where now virtually everything is dried."Unless you've won the lottery, I think it's best to work into dryinggradually," said Cliff
."It's easier on the cash flow, and it givesyou a chance to learn how to dry as you go along."Cliff
also recommended a new product thatClune Lumber recently began to use - Breeze Dried Stickers.Sticker ‘shadow'or discoloration is a problem with woods that must be dried to a bright finish,he
noted.However, the specially designed Breeze Dried Stickers have virtuallyeliminated the problem, he
said."I'd recommend their producthighly."