KINGSTON, Washington – Energy is important to any business. And brothers Codie and Chad Cundiff bring it in abundance to their firewood company, C&C Timber, which they established in late 2009.
Their firewood business continues to grow with the addition of a firewood kiln from Kiln-Direct. In fact, adding kiln-dried firewood has worked out so well the brothers have ordered a second kiln from Kiln-Direct.
“We’re the leading supplier of residential and commercial firewood products in northwestern Washington,” said Codie. The company even supplies shipping containers of bundled firewood to Eskimos in Alaska.
Chad, president of C&C Timber, manages orders and deliveries and more. “I mainly run the yard,” said Codie. “But we’re both very active in the yard.”
Although the business is named C&C Timber and all firewood products are sold under that brand name, the company website is called Kitsap Firewood (www.kitsapfirewood.com). The website designer suggested the name, which is derived from Kitsap County, where the business is located.
Kingston, where the company is situated, is on the Kitsap Peninsula in Puget Sound. It is a community of about 2,100 people, located about eight miles across the sound from Seattle. “It rains a lot,” said Codie. “We’re always battling rain.” The company operates on a 2.6-acre site, about half of it asphalt. A 50×40 building is used for storing finished firewood.
The company employs seven people, including Codie and Chad. “Everybody does all different things all day,” said Codie. The business of the day dictates whether someone will be wrapping bundles of firewood, making deliveries, or operating equipment.
C&C Timber produces about 4,500 cords of firewood annually. About 25-30 percent is kiln-dried in the MiniQuick six-cord kiln supplied by North Carolina-based Kiln-Direct. Customers can request both specific species of wood and specific moisture content. Most firewood is cut to 16-inch length, although C&C will fill orders for custom sizes. Wood is split to 5-7.5 inches in diameter, a size that burns efficiently in woodstoves and fireplaces.
C&C delivers within a radius of 75 to 100 miles around Kingston with its own trucks; it uses trucking companies for longer deliveries.
The company is equipped with a Blockbuster 22-22 firewood processor – it will add a second identical machine –for cutting and splitting firewood. It has three Twister Industries machines for wrapping bundles of firewood.
Two John Deere log loaders handle and move logs in the yard. C&C Timber buys firewood logs from contractors who buy timber on sales by the U.S. Forest Service and the state Department of Natural Resources.
“We usually have a small logging job going,” said Codie. The timber harvesting is done by logging contractors.
C&C Timber produces both hardwood and softwood firewood. Most of the softwood is fir, hemlock, and some pine; hardwood species include maple, alder, oak, and madrona, although madra is “tougher to find,” noted Codie.
The Kiln-direct MiniQuick high performance firewood kiln adds value to the company’s firewood. Kiln-dried firewood burns more efficiently — longer, cleaner, and hotter. It sells for a premium compared to green wood or ‘seasoned’ firewood. The moisture content of dried firewood “depends on species and time of year,” said Codie. “We’ve kiln-dried stuff before to a surface moisture of one percent.”
“Maury [Wilkinson, sales representative, Kiln-direct], has been real helpful,” said Codie. Of course, Codie and Chad also did a lot of research prior to making a buying decision.
“I researched other kiln makers,” said Codie. “I talked to other guys. I kept coming back to Kiln-direct.”
Have Codie’s expectations for the firewood kiln been met? “We ordered another,” he said. Delivery of the second Kiln-direct MiniQuick firewood kiln is slated for April or May.
Kiln-direct gets high praise from Codie. “They build a product that works,” he said. [The MiniQuick] produces the best firewood we’ve ever seen. We get a lot of happy customers.”
Kiln-direct provides technical consulting to customers as they weigh decisions about kiln size, heat sources, features and options. Standard features include computerized controls and wireless communication to an office and record keeping site or other remote location.
Customers can choose a long-wood waste handling conveyor for overnight operation or a high-pressure system for raising humidity. Codie and Chad chose liquid propane as the heat source for the kiln, which could alternatively be heated with natural gas or wood waste.
The Kiln-direct MiniQuick high-performance firewood kiln offers versatility. It can sterilize or heat-treat wood at 160 degrees or kiln-dry firewood at 260 degrees. Codie and Chad plan to add the capability for remote operation and monitoring. “The sky is the limit,” said Codie.
The energy level and commitment to a quality product shared by Codie and Chad mirror the same in Niels Jorgenson, owner of Kiln-Direct. Niels and his company provide abundant information about kiln design, structure and function at the Kiln-Direct website, www.kiln-direct.com.
(For more information about Kiln-Direct, visit the company’s website, www.kiln-direct.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (910) 259-9794.)
C&C Timber seasons – air dries – most of its firewood that is not kiln-dried. In addition to selling bulk and bundled firewood, C&C Timber sells scrap wood material – trim ends and rounds – and bulk sawdust.
The firewood C&C produces is used mostly for home heating. Production varies across the year. In winter residential and commercial customers buy wood as a heat source. In summer, campers take over. Year-round customers include people who want to burn some firewood for the ambience and those with outdoor firepits. “The main reason we sell bundles is to take up slack time,” explained Codie.
Currently, C&C does not sell firewood wholesale for private label or produce specialty wood for cooking, but these are possibilities in future. So is adding their logging operations and maybe even a sawmill.
What Codie likes about the current structure of the business is its relative equilibrium. “It’s fairly predictable, reliable year after year.,” he explained. And that’s important not only to the owners, but to their team.
“We value our employees,” said Codie. “We want to keep them working all year.” As such, a growing niche for firewood in its many forms is doubly encouraging.
Codie and Chad appreciate a good piece of equipment and respond with loyalty to the manufacturer. When they launched C&C some 11 years ago, they did it with a used Blockbuster B1 firewood processor. It worked so well they sold it to a company in Oregon when C&C upgraded to a Blockbuster 22-22 firewood processor.
The U.S.-built line of Blockbuster firewood processors are designed for easy setup and component accessibility. The Blockbuster 22-22, which is set up and operates outside, is “low maintenance,” noted Codie.
“They’ve been good to us,” said Codie of Blockbuster. He cited Blockbuster owner Tim Batey and sales manager Josh Rice as very helpful.
Codie and Chad have no logging or sawmill lineage in their family, but there is a connection to wood and industriousness. “My Dad built houses and was always outside,” said Codie.
Chad, 37, and Codie, 32, started cutting firewood in high school. Codie was nearing graduation from Western Washington University with a degree in finance at the end of 2009 when he assessed the poor job market; that was when the bursting bubble of the housing industry caused the U.S. economy to nosedive.
“There were mass layoffs all around us,” recalled Codie. Talking it through, he and Chad, who had been working in other areas, decided to commit to a full-time firewood business.
It was a good decision, said Codie. “Neither of us was designed to be inside.”
In his free time Codie enjoys hours with loved ones. “I have an eight-year-old and a fiancé,” he said. He has five horses to take care of, too.
The brothers are fully aligned in the philosophy that guides them at C&C. “We try to be honest [in all endeavors],” said Codie. “We are just trying to produce a quality product.”
“We love what we do,” said Codie. “There’s something new every day. It’s honest work.”
“We’d like to thank our customers, who have supported us over the years and helped us grow,” he added.
“It’s amazing the customers that use firewood,” said Codie. “Opportunities just keep growing and growing.”