The Timberwolf brand of firewood splitters and firewood processors has grown and expanded since the company acquired the assets of Timberwolf Manufacturing Corp. a few years ago. The company has added new products, and it has added to its plant and workforce as it has seen sales steadily grow.
Timberwolf Manufacturing Corp., which operated for more than 10 years in Vermont, sold its intellectual property in 2017 to Automated Biomass Systems, which is based in Marathon, New York, and also manufactures equipment for the firewood industry.
Matt Timmins, the owner and president, decided going forward to continue marketing and selling equipment for the firewood industry under the Timberwolf brand name. He initiated a period of revamping designs to freshen the Timberwolf lineup of wood processing equipment to be more competitive.
At the time of the acquisition, the business employed about 12-15 people. That number is now up to about 30 as the company and its business has grown. Sales of the Timberwolf equipment have doubled since the acquisition.
“We’re at a good place with the Timberwolf name,” said Matt Dubitzky, vice president and co-owner who helped Timmins form Automated Biomass Systems in 2013.
Timmins plans to continue to grow the company. A revamped series of Heavy Duty splitters will be priced in the range of $4-9,000 — a market where Timberwolf heretofore did not offer a machine.
Timmins invested heavily in machinery and equipment to increase manufacturing capacity last year. Those investments included a CNC plasma machine and a gantry system so Timberwolf can cut steel in its own shop. “It reduced costs and improved production times,” said Timmins, enabling Timberwolf to double the number of machines it produces in a week. Lead times for new machines were reduced. Lead time currently is averaging 4-5 weeks for splitters and 6-8 weeks for a firewood processor.
The company also is growing its network of dealers. Timberwolf already has a good dealer network in the Northeast, including New York and the New England region, and is moving to add more in the mid-Atlantic as well as the Great Lakes region and the West.
Timmins is particularly interested in networking with businesses that serve as dealerships for small tractors. “That’s a good fit for us,” he said.
Timberwolf recently launched a mid-size series of splitters, the Heavy Duty (HD) series. It is aimed at serving the needs of homeowners and small firewood businesses. “We’re trying to create a wide price range to reach a wider customer base,” said Dubitzky. “And we want to see that people have the right machine to fit their operation.”
The models in the HD series — TW1-HD, TW2-HD and TW5-HD — are equipped with Honda gasoline engines ranging from 5-12 hp. “It has a bigger frame and is a little more heavy-duty than the TW1 and TW2 models,” said Dubitzky.
The new HD series splitter is similar to the TW-5 model but features a number of improvements, added Timmins, notably to the hydraulic system. The result is a cycle time of 5.5 seconds — 3 seconds faster. The company also developed a more efficient wedge design and added coverings to the valves and hoses.Also, the operating platform is higher, 37 inches above the ground. “So the operator is not standing bent over all day, dramatically reducing fatigue due to back aches,” noted Timmins.
Among the company’s splitters, the Alpha 5 and Alpha 6 machines are very popular. “They sell really well,” said Dubitzky. The TW2 splitter is very popular with homeowners “and dealers do really well with it,” he added.
The Alpha series splitters are available in either 12 or 20 HP Honda gasoline engines. They can be equipped with the company’s innovative box wedge with auto-retract arm. It is designed and built to produce one and a half to two cords per hour and to provide years of reliable service.
Of the company’s firewood processors, the leading seller is the Pro-HD XL model, powered by a 74 hp diesel motor. The company is in the process of developing a mid-size processor that will be priced in the $20-30,000 range.
The Timberwolf Pro-HD XL firewood processor can consistently produce 4-5 cords per hour with logs up to 32 feet long and up to 24 inches in diameter. The splitting cycle is 2.9 to 5.5 seconds, depending on diameter. The processor is powered by a Hatz 75 hp diesel engine and equipped with a 24-inch bar saw. Features include a heavy-duty frame and 25-gallon hydraulic tank.
All Timberwolf firewood processors feature the company’s patented top roll clamping system that holds the log securely for bucking and helps in advancing it. Timberwolf firewood processors also feature a large toothed hourglass roller at the rear of the feed trough that allows the use of significantly longer logs.
Options include 5-strand log deck, integrated conveyor, and varying splitting cylinder size.
Timberwolf firewood processors use bar saws for bucking logs. Some manufacturers offer processors that use circle saws for bucking. For mid-size and large firewood processors, circular saws offer no advantages, according to Timmins. Processing logs in the 20-22-inch diameter range, Timberwolf has an average cycle time of 3.5 seconds on its largest machine. As these larger pieces need to be re-split, there is not much benefit in the faster cut that is provided by a circle saw, he noted – certainly not enough to justify the large added expense. “There’s no output benefit,” said Timmins, with a processor that uses a circular saw for bucking. In addition, bar saws are safer, suggested Timmins, who has operated processors with circular saws in the past. Bar saws also keep down the capital cost of the machine.
Jesse Watters invested in a Timberwolf Pro-HD XL firewood processor earlier this year. Watters lives in Gunnison, Colorado, in the southwest corner of the state, about 200 miles southwest of Denver. He buys timber from the U.S. Forest Service. With two employees, they fell the trees by hand and limb them up, then skid them to a landing where all the logs are processed into firewood.
The company produces about 700 cords of firewood annually. They work for months at a time in remote areas and recently were working on a timber sale at an elevation of 10,500 feet.
Watters compared firewood processors from other manufacturers before making a buying decision. One thing that attracted him to Timberwolf was the processor’s portability. “They are pretty mobile,” he said. “You hook onto it and you go.” It takes only about 10 minutes to set up the machine, he added.
His company, Taylor’s Firewood and Snow Removal, usually works in lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, and spruce. The trees average 25-30 inches in diameter.
With the Timberwolf machine, he averages producing 3-4 cords of firewood per hour, he said. “It’s fast,” said Watters. The processor can take 20-26-foot trees without the need to buck them down to 12-foot lengths first. “That cuts your production time a bunch,” he noted.
Asked what he liked about the machine, Watters responded, “Everything. The speed.”
“I definitely would recommend it to other people,” he added.
Watters previously owned a Timberwolf firewood processor that he bought about 10 years ago. The machine had 6,000 hours of operation, yet Watters said he experienced “virtually no problems” other than hydraulic hoses eventually wearing out.
Jesse had an initial problem with the new processor because of bad hydraulic hoses that resulted in blowing the saw motor. Within days both Timmins and Dubitzky went to the site to fix the problem, and Timmins stayed a week to make sure the processor was working in tip-top fashion before returning to New York.
About 75 percent of Timberwolf equipment sales are to firewood businesses or loggers, tree service companies, or other businesses that also produce and sell firewood. The remaining 25 percent are to homeowners, driven mainly by Timberwolf’s dealer network.
Timberwolf also accepts trade-ins of equipment that is in good condition. “We’re always willing to take a trade-in and allow the customer to upgrade,” said Dubitzky. Timberwolf sells used equipment it has received in trade-in, and inventory is published on the company website. “We usually have a list of people to call who want used equipment,” said Dubitzky. “Timberwolf holds its value. It has a good reputation in the industry.”
The company’s business culture has “a very professional atmosphere,” said Dubitzky, “but it also feels like a big family.”
Employees are dedicated, hard-working, knowledgeable, and have longevity in the business.
“Everyone is very hands-on in all areas,” he added. “Nobody’s scared to get their hands dirty in this company.”
Timberwolf is considered an essential business, so the pandemic has not impacted its production operations. “We’re staying open,” said Dubitzky.
However, the pandemic has resulted in cancellations of forest products industry trade shows where equipment manufacturers exhibit, demonstrate, and sell machines. People attend trade shows to take advantage of special pricing offered by suppliers, acknowledged Dubitzky.
Trade shows are an opportunity to meet and talk with hundreds of people, Timmins noted, and they account for as much as 30 percent of the company’s sales. “We’re trying to do more to reach customers on an individual basis…Customers still need to buy our product. We have to help them make their decision without a trade show.”
The last several months have been “a little weird” with the pandemic, acknowledged Timmins. Nevertheless, sales are about 20 percent higher year to date compared to 2019.
Timberwolf plans to exhibit at two trade shows that are still scheduled to be held later this year, the Paul Bunyan Show in Lore City, Ohio, Oct. 2-4, and the Northeastern Forest Products Equipment Exposition in Essex Junction, Vermont, Oct. 16-17, which was postponed from its original May dates. “We’ll be there if they hold the shows,” said Timmins.
Dubitzky was optimistic about the firewood industry and Timberwolf’s future. “Firewood sales are up,” he said. “People are outdoors more,” engaged in activities like camping, because of the pandemic. “People are stockpiling firewood because they’re worried about not being able to get firewood in the winter.”
(For more information about Timberwolf firewood equipment, visit www.timberwolfequip.com or call (607) 307-4029.)