Multitek Keeps Firewood Flowing for N.H. Farm

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Treehugger Farms Has Relied on Multitek Since Mid-80s; Company Now Runs Two Model 2040XP-90 Machines.

WESTMORELAND, N.H. — The name Treehugger Farms Inc. signals a “very environmentally conscious company,” said Jonathan Clark, who owns the business with his wife. The broadly positioned enterprise sells firewood to dealers as well as wood and gas stoves and bark mulch.

Treehugger Farms branches from a family business legacy that dates to1970s, when Jonathan’s father, Greg Clark, launched a firewood business in the town of Mashpee on Cape Cod. The business was transplanted to New Hampshire in 1993 with a new name, and Jonathan bought the company from his father in 1998.

The business moved from Massachusetts because it became “hard to find firewood near the Cape,” said Jonathan. Moreover, the cost of transporting logs to the Cape was becoming prohibitive. “We decided to move our operation to the wood,” he explained.

The company operates on a three and one-half acre site that includes a building with a shop, showroom and office. From its new base, the company buys tree-length firewood in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.

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One constant in the company’s operations has been its reliance on Multitek firewood processing equipments from the Wisconsin-based machinery manufacturer. Jonathan’s father bought his first Multitek machine in the mid-1980s after trying several types of firewood processors, and the business has continued to rely on Multitek since.

Today, Treehugger Farms is equipped with two Multitek model 2040XP-90 firewood processors, one purchased in 2000 and one in 2001. Both machines are set up on an asphalt pad, which helps ensure clean, finished firewood — and satisfied customers. The company has an inventory of 600 to 800 cords of tree-length firewood that it stores on the asphalt.

Logs are bought within a 100-mile radius in southern New Hampshire and northwest Massachusetts. Westmoreland, a town of about 1,700, is about 25 miles north of the Massachusetts border, situated along Interstate 91 and the Connecticut River. The town, named in 1735 for Sir John Fane, the Earl of Westmoreland, has long been an agricultural community.

Jonathan strives to recover as much sellable product as possible from the wood the company uses in the firewood
business. He contracts with another company that grinds his sawdust and scrap wood, and Treehugger Farms sells the
resulting mulch. The company turned its residuals into about 5,000 cubic yards of mulch in 2001.

Jonathan owns two Freightliner tractor-trailer log trucks and one small Freightliner delivery truck. When he buys tree-length logs for firewood, he uses his own loader and trucks to get them. His company also does some hauling for logging contractors.

The company is equipped with a Serco 8500 log loader mounted on a log truck and a Bobcat mini-loader fitted with a Multitek grapple for skidding logs. A conveyor is used for loading firewood.

Jonathan buys mixed hardwoods for firewood. Although some customers have a preference for oak, the “average load is mixed,” he said — oak, maple, ash, beech and birch. Firewood is sold wholesale to dealers on Cape Cod and retail in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Jonathan is considering investing in equipment to package small bundles of firewood in shrink-wrap. He is exploring that option and may begin shrink-wrap operations in the summer.

The company’s two Multitek firewood processors run six to eight hours each day, five and one-half days per week. With
both of them operating, Treehugger Farms produced about 10,000 cords of firewood in 2001.

One man operates each machine. A third employee operates the Bobcat, feeding logs to the firewood processors and removing debris from the concrete pad.

Production from the Multitek machines matches what Multitek promises, 2.5 to 3.5 cords per hour per machine. Jonathan closely adheres to Multitek’s maintenance specifications and schedules for oil and grease.

The Multitek 2040 can easily handle hardwoods up to 20 inches in diameter; the manufacturer recommends logs of a minimum 3 inches. The machine’s hydraulic splitter has a floating, interchangeable four, six or eight-way wedge. The feed system relies on a shuttle grapple.

An option on the Multitek 2040 is a climate-controlled operator’s cab, and Jonathan purchased a cab with each of his machines. “The employees are happier, safer,” he said. The added safety of the enclosed operator’s cab reduces premiums for workers’ compensation insurance, he said.

Multitek introduced a new, more portable firewood processing machine in Oct. 2001, the model 2020. It comes with a pintle hitch hook-up and an integrated stacking conveyor. The 2020 can be pulled by a one-ton pick-up truck with dual wheels. It is the newest member of the diverse Multitek line of firewood processors.

The 34-year-old Massachusetts native grew up in logging and once was a logging contractor, equipped with a skidder and hand-felling with a chain saw.

One of the things Jonathan likes best about being in business is “dealing with people in the industry and customers.” When he is hauling in his log truck, he likes to look over the logging jobs to see how equipment is being used, changing and improving.

When he has free hours, he enjoys spending them with his family. “The
business consumes most of my time,”
said Jonathan.

Factory service is another thing that has kept Jonathan committed to Multitek equipment. Multitek’s quality of service is very high, he said. The biggest factor,
however, has been machine performance and reliability. “They’ve worked for us,” said Jonathan.

“Multitek is a very good machine for us,” he said. “It gives us a good quality piece of wood.”