Tree Business Recycles Wood for Firewood

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Super Split log splitters make firewood production quick and easy for Treely Yours

SAG HARBOR, N.Y.— Richard Sawyer owns Treely Yours, an enterprise with several components. “My main business,” he said, “makes me an arborist, tree surgeon, tree climber.”

But he also sells firewood and does the occasional chimney sweeping jobs — he is a certified chimney sweep. In the past he also has sold wood stoves.

Richard, 57, established Treely Yours in 1976. Equipped only with a TR-6 Triumph chain saw, a climbing belt and spikes, he went door-to-door, offering his services at large estates that span Long Island.

He did well. After a month, he was able to buy a dump truck to take over full-time for the flatbed truck he had been borrowing each Sunday to carry wood waste to a landfill. Soon after that he bought a Chip-More chipper from ESCO to make mulch. Then he began to place ads. “I advertised in every Yellow Pages the length of Long Island,” he said.

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“I do a lot of take-downs and land-clearing,” explained Richard. When he cuts down a tree, he bucks the log up into 20-inch pieces. He uses Husqvarna chain saws, including a Husqvarna 371 with a 20-inch bar and a new 372 model, which he likes because it “seems lighter.” Richard transports the wood back to his wood lot, and all the hardwood is split for firewood. Pine and all other softwoods are chipped in a Vermeer 1250 chipper. Richard usually has one employee working with him.

Richard relies on Super Split log splitters, which are made by Super Splitter in East Bridgewater, Mass. The splitters handle wood up to 25 inches long.

Richard owns three special edition Super Split log splitters and one J-model Super Split log splitter. The J-model, with a 4 hp engine, is geared toward the homeowner and small businesses; it is fast but not as powerful as the special edition and heavy-duty Super Split.

Two of the special edition Super Split machines owned by Richard are equipped with 8 hp engines. The third, and the newest, is fitted with a 9 hp engine, which Richard said is “really nice.”

A semi-automatic machine, the Super Split log splitter is designed for a one-person operation. Richard first saw a Super Split machine demonstrated at a trade show in Portland, Maine. “In 16 minutes and 51 seconds the operator split a full cord of wood,” said Richard, who left the trade show with three of the machines.

The Super Split log splitter works on mechanics, not hydraulics. The machine splits wood thanks to the pent-up energy unleashed from two flywheels. The splitters can be equipped with either a gas or an electric power source to pump up the flywheels with potential energy.

The rack and pinion flywheel drive has a cycle time of about two seconds and a recovery time of one second. The operator initiates the cycle, and the machine carries through. The Super Split log splitter is “very, very fast,” said Richard, who splits and sells hundreds of cords of firewood annually.

Richard knows something about splitting wood fast. In fact, he holds a Guinness Book record for splitting white ash into quarters using only a maul and a wedge. At Sag Harbor on July 2, 1982, with only the two hand tools, he split a cord of ash in 53 minutes and 43 seconds. He has since topped his record, a feat he attributes to additional exercise — he jogs eight miles daily.

Richard became interested in hand splitting after watching a woman use a quartering wedge (with a set of wings) to split wood by hand. He was fascinated, thought he could do the same, and got started in training.

Before Richard opened Treely Yours, he was in the restaurant business, and was one of the founders of the well-know establishment The Salty Dog. Before that he was an NCO in the Army and served as a point man with the canine corps in Vietnam. He completed the most advanced training for corps members, which was working with a dog off leash. He and his dog scored 100% on their exit exam; they were able to detect everything that was put in their path.

When Richard returned from Vietnam, he completed a degree in psychology and went to graduate school, earning degrees in counseling and mental health. In the meantime, while he was still in the restaurant business, he became ill. “I was very sick,” he said. “I had a nervous breakdown.”

Richard set out to improve his mental and physical health. In 1976 he looked up an old high school friend, Ray Smith, the owner of Eastern Tree Experts. Ray gave Richard a job, putting him up in a cherry picker before he could think about it. Working for Ray, Richard discovered he loved being outdoors and working with trees. There was so much work available on Long Island that he decided to strike out on his own.

A native of Boston, Richard grew up in Freeport on Long Island, New York. He has lived in Sag Harbor, a town of about 2,000 residents, since 1976. Treely Yours serves an area about 45 miles east or west of his home.

“I go seven days a week,” said Richard. “I love my work.” He contrasts what he is doing now with his time in the restaurant business. “I like having no waste,” he said, and he takes satisfaction that Treely Yours helps to recycle natural resources.

Although he prefers to be on the job every day, Richard did take off one extremely hot day during the summer of 2002. The course of that day helped him identify a new commitment — urging the U.S. government to ensure that veterans suffering from what one described as “soldier’s heart” are recognized in a special way.

Recalling Al Pacino’s line from the movie, “Scent of a Woman,” Richard said, “There is no prosthesis for an amputated soul.” He wants the federal government to award a decoration to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic, stress-related mental illnesses — much like the Purple Heart is awarded for suffering physical wounds. He has been writing letters to veterans organizations and legislators to promote the idea, and he has the ear of at least one television producer who is interested in telling the story. Richard suggested the decoration would be named the Soldier’s Heart, a term that was used in the Civil War to describe veterans suffering mental illness from the stress of combat.

(Editor’s Note: Richard is eager to hear from veterans and others who are interested in the cause of promoting a Soldier’s Heart decoration. He may be reached at (631) 725-3118.)