MARATHON, New York — Buoyed by growing sales, Timberwolf Firewood Processing Equipment has expanded again, adding manufacturing operations to build key components and warehouse space to increase its inventory of raw materials.
In its second major investment, the company has added a second facility and equipment to manufacture its own hydraulic components. President Matt Timmins leased a 22,000-square foot building in Syracuse, which is about an hour north of the company’s other facility in Marathon, New York. He invested in CNC lathes, a laser table, press brake, auto saw, and other equipment in order to make the steel components and hydraulic parts. The new plant — staffed by 20 people, 18 of them new hires — began operating in June of this year.
Matt has steadily grown the Timberwolf brand of firewood splitters and firewood processors since acquiring the assets of Timberwolf Manufacturing Corp. in 2017. Matt founded Automated Biomass Systems, manufacturing equipment for firewood production, with a partner, Matt Dubitzky, in 2013. Timberwolf had been operating more than 10 years in Vermont before he acquired its intellectual property and moved manufacturing operations to New York. Going forward, they decided to continue marketing and selling equipment under the Timberwolf brand name.
Since then Matt (Timmins) revamped some equipment designs and introduced new products while making significant investments in the company’s manufacturing capacity and operations. There were several reasons behind his decision to begin making the company’s own hydraulic components, he explained. “Flexibility for design was one.”
Timberwolf splitters feature larger, oversize rods for hydraulic cylinders for fast cycle time as well as oversize ports. “It’s hard to find manufacturers,” said Matt, who will build custom components and produce them in a reasonable period of time. “We figured it would be better to do it ourselves and have more control.”
Quality control was another issue. In the past Matt bought hydraulic cylinders that were manufactured overseas. Not to knock foreign manufacturing, but if there was a quality issue Matt’s company would be stuck with hundreds of flawed cylinders. “Now we have full control over making these components, from the purchase of the raw steel material to machining it and building the cylinders.”
“Once we started doing that, we did the same thing with gear pumps.” The gear pumps the company purchased in the past were “close enough to what we wanted,” but now the company can design and manufacture them exactly to match engine horsepower and hydraulic fluid flow requirements. “We have more control,” said Matt, “and we know what quality control processes we need to ensure we are building quality parts.”
Since then Timberwolf has expanded even further. In October Matt leased a 10,000-square-foot building to warehouse raw materials. “Steel was expensive last year and hard to come by,” observed Matt. “Now we can make sure we have a three-to-four months’ supply of steel. In the past, the company only had enough room to keep about a week’s worth of steel in inventory. The new warehouse is located close to the company’s facility in
Marathon, where workers do all the welding, painting, and assembly.The company has been able to invest and expand its production facilities because sales have steadily grown. “We’ve grown quite a bit,” acknowledged Matt, in recent years. “There’s been quite a bit of demand in the firewood industry for splitters and processors, and we’ve been able to take advantage of that.”
Sales for 2021 have doubled compared to 2020, and the year isn’t over yet. At the beginning of 2020 the company had about 25 employees; that number now is about 50.
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 certified dealer network.
Sales of commercial or industrial splitters have fueled the company’s growth in recent years. One of the company’s best sellers is the Alpha 6 splitter, the top-of-the-line model with a 20 hp Honda gasoline engine that can produce about two cords of firewood per hour.
“We found a ‘sweet spot’ with that model for tree service companies,” said Matt. “It can handle big trees and is pretty easy to run. That’s been a big seller for us.”
The HD series of splitters have been doing well in the consumer segment of the market. Those models range from about 5-12 hp. “They’re a good match for a homeowner,” said Matt.
Sales of firewood processors, which Timberwolf just began manufacturing in recent years, have done well and are steady. “They are much more complicated to make, and building one takes a lot of time,” noted Matt.
As it has grown, the company has added to its growing network of certified dealers, particularly in the Southeast. Tree Solutions in Nashville, Tennessee, represents Timberwolf to customers in Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Chipper LLC in Cumming, Georgia, represents Timberwolf in the Peach State. “They’ve been a big part of our growth,” said Matt.
The Southeast has accounted for a “solid 20 percent” of Timberwolf’s growth in the last couple of years, and Timberwolf also has seen growth in the Northeast as its dealers have sold more.
The pandemic has been a boon for some industries and businesses, like home improvements and remodeling. It also has had a positive effect on the firewood industry, according to Matt. “People have been home more,” he noted, in many cases working from home, and home because restaurants and entertainment venues have been closed or restricted. Since they are at home more, they use their fireplaces more and also have more outdoor fires, either with popular fire pits or a campfire. It doesn’t take many people burning more firewood to have a significant impact on firewood consumption, observed Matt. “They’re home more, they have time to kill. They might buy a splitter.”
In addition, rising fuel costs will prompt a lot of people to burn firewood this winter, said Matt. Heating oil prices have been their highest since about 2014. “That’s going to get a lot more people using firewood — which is good for firewood sales, which is good for firewood splitter sales.”
The pandemic has brought challenges just as it has to other businesses and industries. “Obtaining goods generally has been much harder,” said Matt, and it has been exacerbated even more lately because of kinks in the supply chain that have made national news, such as freighters anchored off the Port of Los Angeles, waiting to unload.
Timberwolf purchases 4,000 parts and components from vendors. “It’s definitely been challenging,” said Matt, and frustrating at times. Items as simple as tires are sourced overseas.
Labor was a challenge at one point, but “That’s behind us now,” said Matt. “It’s really improved.”
Matt began making plans to manufacture some parts in-house before the problems in the supply chain developed. “We kind of got lucky,” he said, by adding that capability. “That’s insulated us. We’re not relying on another supplier outside the U.S. to make these. We have full control.” Other businesses and industries have not been so fortunate, he said.
“Those components have gotten hard to come by.”
Added Matt Dubitzky, “Taking action and reinvesting in ourselves allows us to cut down on lead times and help with quality control. We’re a made-in-America company, and we intend to keep it that way.”
Timberwolf manufactures a wide range of splitters. The LD series of log splitter consists of the TW-1, TW-2 and TW-3 models, the smallest being the TW-1 with a 4.9 hp Honda engine; the TW-3 model can be powered by a tractor PTO. They feature thick gauge I-Beam and alloy steel wedges. The HD-Series of log splitter features quick cycle times, heavy-duty robust construction and plenty of height for easy operation; they come standard with a log lift, wedge lift and a 4-inch cylinder. Two models are available in the Alpha series for commercial use. Timberwolf also offers a machine for splitting oversize logs.
Timberwolf offers three models of firewood processors that range in power from a 50 hp Hatz diesel engine to a 74 hp version. All feature an 8×10, three-stand live log deck. Two models feature electric automatic cycling and optional components to upgrade capacity.
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.
Timberwolf also manufactures conveyors for moving and handling firewood. It offers several conveyor models, each of which couples easily with a variety of firewood processing equipment, vehicles, and other machinery.
“We warranty our wedges,” said Matt (Timmins). “We stand behind them. We’re confident in our machines. If a customer breaks a wedge, we replace it — no questions asked.”
“One of our strong points is our service,” he added. In addition to providing technical support via telephone, Timberwolf employs three field technicians who provide service to customers around the country.
Matt invested heavily in machinery and equipment in 2019 to increase manufacturing capacity. The investments included a CNC plasma machine and a gantry system so the company could cut steel in its own shop. Those investments increased manufacturing capacity and enabled the company to reduce costs and improve production times.
Timberwolf has begun developing a hybrid log splitter, a model that would have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, much like a hybrid vehicle has both. A splitter equipped with a 20 hp gasoline engine doesn’t require that much energy all the time, noted Matt. An electric motor potentially could provide more power as needed, providing more power and faster cycle time, and also reducing gasoline consumption. The company is looking to introduce the hybrid model in 2022.
For more information about Timberwolf splitters and firewood processors, conveyors, and wood cleaners, visit www.timberwolfequip.com, email email@example.com, or call (607) 307-4029. Videos of products are available on the company’s YouTube channel: Timberwolf Firewood Processing Equipment.