MARYSVILLE, Pennsylvania — If you’re looking for an equipment dealer who sells equipment for producing firewood, where better to turn than someone who has operated a firewood business, a tree service business, and has solid training and experience in metal fabrication?
Juile Daum (his first name is pronounced JYLE, like Gomer PYLE), owner of Daum’s Custom Fabrication LLC, is an entrepreneur who carved out a living three ways: doing tree service work, producing and selling firewood, and welding and metal fabrication.
He took a small leap 11 years ago and became a dealer for Vermont-based Timberwolf Manufacturing Corp., which makes and sells equipment under the Timberwolf brand for producing firewood.
Earlier this year he also became a dealer for Automated Biomass Systems (ABS), a New York-based company that also manufactures and markets equipment for the firewood industry. Ironically, ABS acquired Timberwolf’s assets in September. (See accompanying article.)
Although he has lengthy experience operating businesses that provide metal fabrication, tree service, and firewood, these days Juile is focusing on serving customers for ABS and Timberwolf equipment. “That’s my priority now,” he said. He only does metal fabrication, firewood, or tree service work if his dealership has a lull.
Juile, 46, who also became a distributor for Oregon saw bars and chain in 2015, lives and works in Marysville, Pennsylvania. It is a small town on the Susquehanna River almost directly across the river from Harrisburg but just a few miles north. He has lived in the area all his life.
He had an early introduction to entrepreneurship and working in the three areas that provided the foundation for setting up an equipment dealership. His family heated with wood in the winter, and as a boy he cut and split firewood for his family. As he got older, he began producing and selling firewood to people who worked with his father, who was a railroad engineer. His father bought him a chainsaw when he was 12. When he turned 16, he could deliver firewood with a pickup truck.
He started doing tree service work when he was a teen, too. Someone who knew that he sold firewood called him and asked him if he would be interested in removing a tree. The tree could not just be felled; the feller would need to climb it and remove it one limb at a time. Another person gave him a pair of tree-climbing spikes, and he was off and running doing tree service work at 15.
“I’m not afraid of anything,” said Juile. “Self-taught. Learn as you go.” He had some friends in the business, too, and learned some things from them. When he was an adult he invested in a bucket truck and a chipper.
Juile attended a vocational-technical school to learn welding and after graduating worked for someone who built race cars. He also continued to do some tree work and firewood. He worked briefly at a couple of jobs before becoming self-employed, working for himself now for 22 years.
He can build any kind of metal fabrication product, according to Juile. “Any kind of welding — you name it, I usually can do it.” He has fabricated access gates for logging roads and other properties, among other projects.
He built a 40×60 steel building for a shop for his metal fabrication business in 1994. Since he was in the tree business and firewood business, too, he put in an outdoor wood furnace to heat the shop. He is still burning wood in the same furnace, 23 years later.
Juile explained his three-pronged approach to his businesses. “You have to be kind of diversified,” he said, because any of the businesses may experience some slack time while another is productive. “One thing will be up,” he noted, “one thing will be down.”
He has enough business that he could hire some employees, but Juile would rather stay small, independent, and without the hassles and added expense of having people work for him. “I could use two employees, but I’m not going there.” He cited costs for workers compensation and liability insurance as well as the difficulty in finding good labor. “Finding somebody that wants to work is hard,” he said. In a pinch he can call on his father or son for help.
Juile did not own any Timberwolf firewood equipment before deciding to become a dealer for the company. He had a firewood splitter in his business, but it was made by a company in the 1970s that was no longer in business, and he was looking for a machine that was faster. A friend who operated a landscaping business told him about Timberwolf and recommended the company to Juile, who decided to make a trip to visit the Timberwolf factory in Rutland, Vermont. He was extremely impressed by the company and its equipment products.
“Being in the metal fabrication business…I know quality work,” said Juile, when it comes to equipment built for splitting and processing firewood. “I looked at their product. There was nothing on the market that was close to it…Nothing could touch it.”
Another thing that attracted him to Timberwolf was the fact that the company manufactured equipment only for the firewood industry. Some companies, noted Juile, manufacture equipment for the firewood industry as well as equipment for other industries. “They weren’t into all kinds of manufacturing,” he said. “Strictly just firewood equipment.”
As it turned out, Timberwolf was looking for a dealer in the Harrisburg area, and Juile discussed the opportunity with company officials. As a result of that visit, he became a dealer for Timberwolf and bought one TW-5, three TW-P1 and one TW-3 model splitters — one for his firewood business, and four others for inventory to sell.
He continued to do work in metal fabrication, tree work, and firewood as his dealership grew. “I don’t advertise for anything,” said Juile, neither firewood or tree service work. “All my business is repeat customers or referrals. Just loyal customers. I can hardly keep up any more.” He could work full-time in his tree business if he chose to, he said. If he needs firewood logs, he can buy them from logging contractors.
Juile has relied over the years mainly on Husqvarana chainsaws for doing tree work and bucking firewood logs, although he also has some Stihl chainsaws that he uses primarily for climbing and cutting. He also has a Timberjack 240 skidder he bought 15 years ago because he was “busting up too much equipment.”
Most of his customers for firewood equipment are people who operate a firewood business — about 90 percent, he estimated. Many of them are loggers who have a firewood business on the side. The other 10-15% of his customers are homeowners.
“One thing that’s really important to me is that I’m loyal to my customers,” said Juile. “If they have a problem or an issue, they can get a-hold of me. That’s what’s made me successful.” In fact, he has customers who own other brands of firewood equipment who call and rely on him for technical assistance and support. Some equipment dealers don’t provide the service and support their customers need, he suggested.
Juile became a dealer for ABS because he was interested in selling the company’s conveyors for firewood production. “They build a top-of-the line conveyor with a few more bells and whistles for the same price (as other brands) or less,” he explained. He was impressed with the ABS equipment as well as its leadership and personnel and became an ABS dealer in the spring. ABS owner Matt Timmins recently paid him a visit, and Juile offered some ideas on equipment improvements.
When he became a dealer for Timberwolf, the manufacturer provided training for both using and servicing Timberwolf equipment. With his background in the tree service and firewood business and metal fabrication, though, Juile is pretty much self-taught. “If I don’t know how to do it, I’ll take it apart and figure it out.” He has been knowledgeable and expert enough that Timberwolf turned to him in the past for his input in developing prototype accessories.
Juile services and repairs equipment and maintains a very large inventory of replacement parts. He can provide technical assistance over the phone or travel to a customer site. “I’m big on service.”
He has more than a few dozen customers who own Timberwolf firewood processors. “They want someone who can answer technical questions,” he said, “when a customer has a problem or needs some service work.”
The fall is a busy time of year for firewood businesses, he noted, and he has been busy, too, providing service to them. During the busy season he is on the road two or three days a week making service calls.
“My priority is the service on the machines,” said Juile. His other businesses have taken a backseat to his equipment dealership.
“Great service — that’s what keeps me running. I’m a dealer you can actually get a-hold of and talk to.”
His dealership business has two segments and market regions. For firewood splitters, his market area is about a 100-mile radius, maybe more. However, for firewood processors, he covers all of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and part of New Jersey.
“I keep splitters in stock for sale.” He has had as many as 30 splitters in his dealership inventory.
“Don’t expect some big fancy show room,” he added, “but I got a nice shop.”
He advertises his dealership business in some local newspapers in the region. Juile also attends three to five trade shows a year, including the PA Timber Show.
Juile lives with his wife, Lori. They have a son, Johnathan, 22, now living on his own and working as an electrician.
Juile likes to bow hunt for deer and has a camp in Clinton County, which is located in north-central Pennsylvania, above State College. He also enjoys fishing for walleye in Quebec in the summer if he has time to get away.
Juile has enjoyed the people aspect of his dealership business. “I meet a lot of nice people and have been to a lot of nice places. That’s what I get out of it.”
“That’s how I was brought up,” he added. “Treat people how you want to be treated.”
(To contact Juile, call (717) 329-5695 or email email@example.com.)
Automated Biomass Systems Completes Timberwolf Asset Acquisition (sidebar)
Automated Biomass Systems (ABS), which manufactures equipment for the firewood industry, has acquired a leading manufacturer of firewood splitters and firewood processors.
ABS, based in Marathon, New York, acquired Timberwolf Manufacturing Corp. Timberwolf, a family-owned business, operated for more than 10 years in Rutland, Vermont.
ABS will continue to manufacture equipment products for firewood producers under its own brand name and also continue the Timberwolf brand name, according to ABS owner Matt Timmins.
“Timberwolf has a great name,” said Matt. “They built a great product and had a large following in the wood splitting industry. We thought it was a good niche for our conveyor and our AutoSplit. We will reach a much broader audience and provide more products and services to our existing customers.”
The complete line of Timberwolf equipment is being carried forward, and ABS will continue to provide parts and service for Timberwolf equipment through dealers. “We plan to continue to build high quality products and make incremental improvements as we see fit,” said Matt.
Timberwolf manufacturing operations were moved to ABS facilities in upstate New York in September, and production in New York began in October.
ABS already is combining the best design elements of ABS conveyors and Timberwolf conveyors into a single integrated design, said Matt. “We also will offer improved options on conveyors, like oscillating axles and a power lift cylinder to raise the conveyor to working height.”
ABS plans to further enhance the Timberwolf line of firewood processors in order to increase operator ergonomics and production. ABS also is developing a firewood processor equipped with a circular saw for bucking and plans to introduce it in early 2018.
Besides offering the Timberwolf line of equipment, ABS offers the AutoSplit, which features a box wedge and automatic block return that distinguishes it from other firewood splitters, a device for sorting firewood and removing debris, and a firewood conveyor.
ABA also is the U.S. distributor for Paylax, a company in Finland that manufactures firewood processors, splitters, and accessories.
For more information on ABS, visit the company’s website at www.absbiomass.com or call (607) 849-7800. For more information on Timberwolf, visit www.timberwolf.com or call (800) 340-4386.