Firewood Workshop Great Success

Brian Madden at WERC, April 17, 2014

Harry Watt’s Profitable Firewood Workshop was a huge success, with professionals from far and wide coming to West Virginia to talk about many aspects of the Firewood Industry and share their knowledge of various aspects of producing, marketing, and selling firewood.

The talk generating by far the most interest was by Brian Madden, an NFA member from Cleveland, who revealed what he’s done to build a customer base who repeatedly and enthusiastically pay a premium price for a premium firewood product and service. He claimed over $700/cord, and brought the paperwork to prove it.

Harry Watt offered ideas on a simple way to maximize overall profit by sorting firewood into different grades, a common and well-proven method used in other industries like lumber and agriculture.

Bill Mollard, another NFA member and DYNA products dealer from West Virginia made the case for incorporating a firewood processor into one’s business, citing a case study where production time was more than halved with an entry-level machine.

John Karakash of the Resource Professionals Group presented topics on many aspects of the wood heat and biomass markets. One fascinating concept involved commercial installations of biomass HVAC plants and the opportunity for supporting service businesses that would include both providing the wood fuel and tending the boiler.

Niels Jorgensen of gave an overview of what it means, economically, to incorporate kiln-drying into the production process, which is a timely topic in light of the ever expanding quarantines for EAB and other invasive species.

Geoff Friedman of the AFPDA presented via speakerphone what his organization is doing to create a third-party certification scheme to allow producers to meet APHIS standards outside the current quarantine boundaries.

The need for this kind of system was underscored by the message given by Paul Chaloux of the USDA’s APHIS/PPQ office. Finally, Professor Chen Zhangling gave a very animated presentation making a case for the use of steam under vacuum as an efficient way of heat-treating firewood as a phytosanitary measure.