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pressconnects.com | 06/28/04 | Business Story
Clune has no desire to be the next Georgia PacificCliff Clune, president of Clune Lumber Corp., stands near stacks of soft maple logs at his company's Otsego County sawmill. As sawmills and lumber manufacturers go, Clune is not a major operator.But company officials say they have no desire to become the next Georgia Pacific, with its stylized logo, scores of different wood products, giant payroll and helicopter fleet. "We're a small player, and we like it," said Cliff Clune, the company's president and one of its stockholders."We have customers that we ship lumber to every week.And this is what we're after: repeat business, good relationships with good customers." The construction and homebuilding industries continue to rebound from the recession, and Clune said 2004 has been his company's best year since 2000. "We limit ourselves in what we do," said Clune."It's very competitive," Clune said of the process by which lumber companies vie for trees.The bark goes into a product that Clune sells as mulch. After the bark is removed, the logs are hosed down and sent inside the processing mill.The first saw they encounter is the band head saw, a large machine with a banded blade.Like the debarker operator, the sawyer sits in a cab that keeps out much of the roar associated with woodworking.A joystick is used to turn the log this way and that, and a red line glows against its face as it is pushed toward the blade. "That's a laser light to show you where your saw's going to cut," Clune said while standing over the sawyer's shoulder and as a rounded log was started on its way to becoming a board with straight edges. There always seems to be plenty going on in the nine-acre yard, and Clune is kept busy supervising operations and personnel, answering the telephone and dealing with the large issues that complicate the running of a small business.But he has no plans to abandon the industry that has given him many headaches and backaches over the last 37 years. "It takes a unique individual to get into this business," Clune said.
Sales Team - Wagner Lumber Sawmill in New York & Pennsylvania
Cliff Clune, Green Lumber Sales
CLIFF CLUNE 116 SECOR ROAD P.O. BOX 469 OTEGO NY 13825 607-988-6611
Green Lumber Sales 607-693-2690 607-693-2790
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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 said.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."