PENOBSQUIS, New Brunswick —
There are still business opportunities in the sawmill industry. Javed Mian is living proof that an entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy that uncovers needs in lumber markets can help someone carve out a successful niche in the industry.
Javed, 43, was born and raised in Pakistan, but he has lived in Canada since 2001. When asked why he emigrated from his native country to Canada, he said, “The same reason as a lot of people…looking for better opportunities in life.”
In Pakistan as a 26-year-old, he was working as a salesman, selling audio equipment, but he had no specific occupation in mind when he initially relocated to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. He worked in construction for several years and then became the general manager for a taxi business.
In 2015, “I decided I wanted to do something on my own, for myself. I wanted to start a business.” He and his wife, Rajni, began discussing possible opportunities for a business and came up with the idea of a sawmill.
Javed began researching the demand for lumber in Pakistan, India, and countries in the Middle East. He now has customers in those countries as well as China, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries in the Middle East.
He and Rajni decided to locate their business, Ayat Timbers International, in New Brunswick, which is the second-largest province in Canada in terms of forest resources. They moved in August 2016, and Javed began the project of starting a sawmill, including developing a business plan. With a business plan he was able to secure financing and purchased 21 acres, the site of a defunct sawmill, in Penobsquis, a tiny village located in the Northeast portion of New Brunswick. They chose the property because of its proximity to the ocean and ports and also because it had an existing dry kiln. The couple also moved to Penobsquis. While Javed was continuing to develop plans for his business, he worked as a taxi driver in Fredericton, nearly 200 miles away.
The old mill building, abandoned, had collapsed under the weight of snow, but the property contained a Nyle Systems lumber kiln that essentially was operational. Javed had a new, 4,800-square-foot building constructed to house the sawmill, then a 1,800-square-foot building to store finished lumber. He cut his first log in September 2018.
Javed did a lot of research about equipment after conceiving of the idea of starting a sawmill. He visited websites of manufacturers, read their marketing information and viewed their product videos. He eventually narrowed down his search to two manufacturers, including Select Sawmill, and he visited and talked with customers that owned and operated their machines to get their input and watch the sawmills in operation.
He decided to invest in an electric-powered Select Sawmill model 4221. “There were a number of things,” said Javed, that drew him to Select Sawmill. “First of all, this mill cuts both ways. It gives you high production.” Select Sawmill offers band mills that run blades that cut in both directions; the saw head can begin cutting again immediately at the end of the log instead of returning to its initial position.
Another factor that was important to Javed was that Select Sawmill offers mills that can cut according to both metric and customary U.S. measurements. It’s important because he deals with customers overseas that require lumber be cut to metric measurements.
He also was impressed by the performance and reliability of Select Sawmill band mills. “It’s a durable machine, I must say,” he said. “It’s forgiving.”
“The hydraulic system of the machine is very nice,” added Javed. “It’s very capable.”
Javed also has been pleased with the service and support he has received from Select Sawmill. Although the company is located in Ontario, some distance away between Ottawa and Montreal, Javed considers them a “local” company — from Canada. In addition, he can receive parts via overnight delivery.
Select Sawmill provided training materials to operate the new sawmill, and Javed visited the company’s manufacturing facility for training. After he received it in June of 2018, “It took me a couple of months, and then it was like I was born with it,” he said. After two months he was operating the sawmill at 75 percent of its potential, he added.
Select Sawmill manufactures equipment for small to mid-sized businesses for profitable yet affordable commercial sawmill operations. The company has been manufacturing sawmill equipment since 1997 and sells throughout Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Australia, and more countries in South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The company’s double-cut band sawmills feature fully hydraulic log handling and automation for optimum speed, accuracy, and precision. They can be operated with a minimum number of employees and cut up to 3 feet per second, depending on the application.
Select Sawmill also manufactures and sells a full range of accessory equipment, including debarkers, edgers, trim saws and chop saws, and material handling equipment, such as conveyors and transfer decks.
The Select Sawmill model 4221 is a user-friendly, high-output band mill. It can cut logs up to 42 inches in diameter and 22 feet long. It can cut up to 3 feet per second, sawing in both directions, and aided by a high efficiency hydraulic system and computerized setworks.
Features include a heavy-duty frame made of 2×8 ¼-inch steel tubing and choice of John Deere 115 hp turbocharged diesel engine or 75 hp electric motor. The complete hydraulic system includes log turner, two back posts, two dogs, two tapers, blade guide and tensioning, head lift and carriage feed. The sawmill has an electric automatic blade lubrication system. Options include extra frame length, trailer package, live deck and log loader, hydraulic oil tank heater and engine block heater.
(For more information, call (613) 673-1267, visit www.selectsawmill.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or.)
“It’s a good machine to use, but of course you have to take care of it – use it properly, service it properly,” observed Javed. “If you take care of the machine, it operates really well.”
Select Sawmill has provided good over-the-phone technical assistance, noted Javed. “I call them any time I need help. They are always glad to help.”
When the sawmill is operating at full capacity full-time, Javed has eight people working for him. Ayat Timbers International cuts 12-15,000 board feet per day. A 20-foot loading deck that Javed purchased with the property is used to stage logs and feed them to the sawmill. Boards are fed to a Valley Equipment two-saw edger. Finished lumber is graded and sorted by hand, then stacked on stickers to be loaded into the kiln. After the lumber is dried it is wrapped in bundles. Javed also recently bought an LM Equipment Co. (Canada) portable yard saw for trimming bundles of lumber. The mill also is equipped with conveyor tables for moving the lumber from the sawmill to the edger, and belts and chains for removing sawdust. Javed has a Chinese-made front-end loader that works in the log yard, unloading and stacking logs and retrieving logs and placing them on the sawmill infeed deck.
Ayat Timbers International cuts only white pine. “Because white pine is the product I have a market for,” explained Javed. All his lumber production is exported.
He buys logs from logging contractors, specifying them for an 8 inch minimum top and 30 inch maximum on the butt end. Since his finished lumber is in lengths of 14 feet and 16 feet, loggers deliver wood that is 6 inches longer.
The finished rough cut lumber the mill produces is usually 25 mm and 40 mm thickness (about 1 inch and 1-½ inches, respectively) and in widths ranging from 4-12 inches.
Most scrap material – slabs – is used in the company’s boiler to heat the main building and to preheat the kiln. Some slabs are sold for firewood.
Javed recently constructed a new kiln building and invested in a Nyle Systems high temperature dehumidification system. The system has the capacity to dry 2,500-73,000 board feet of softwood (8,000-225,000 board feet of hardwood). High temperature dehumidification systems use significantly more cost effective than steam or gas-fired kilns, according to Maine-based Nyle. The reason is because Nyle systems use 40–60 percent less energy than gas-fired or steam dry kilns.
In developing his markets in foreign countries, Javed turned to friends and relatives around the world to help identify major lumber buyers. As he learned about lumber buyers, he began visiting their websites and contacting them. He stays in contact with his customers via email and phone, and he also has traveled to foreign countries to meet them.
His business offers paid holidays to employees, and he normally awards bonuses at Christmas time. “Otherwise, we make sure they work in a relaxed environment,” he said.
About half his working time, Javed operates the Select Sawmill; he has one employee who runs it the remainder of the time. When he is not sawing logs, Javed oversees the rest of the mill operations, performs certain chores in the mill, keeps an eye on his log inventory and the kiln operations, and checks lumber quality and grades the company’s lumber production.
Rajni performs all the administrative tasks in their home office, from bookkeeping to paper work, banking, and more. “She does every single office task,” said Javed.
Javed enjoys spending time with his wife and their two daughters. Sometimes they take their girls for a drive, particularly in summer. Javed and Rajni also enjoy reading.
Javed has been pleased with the growth of his business so far. “Yes, I can’t complain.” He would like to grow his business further but has no specific expansion plans at this time. “I wouldn’t mind if the opportunity arises,” he said.