Hampden sawmill has almost doubled its production

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on July 5, 2014
Leamond Osmond, an employee of Burton’s Cove Lumber and Logging Ltd., is seen here at the green chain in the sawmill.

Photo by David Howells

In 2010, Burton’s Cove Logging and Lumber Ltd. in Hampden boasted one of its best years of production on record — about 8 million board feet of lumber.

That now seems like an eternity ago to the Osmonds. Upgrades to the sawmill plant and fine-tuning their production has the company aiming for close to double that this year.

In late May, the mill produced more than 100,000 board feet of lumber in one day — a milestone for the company. About two weeks later, a new benchmark was set with more than 112,000 board feet turned out.

“That was our sole purpose when we did our upgrades,” said Zeta Osmond, who owns and operates the company with her husband Fred. “To increase production and get to a point we have been trying to reach for years, but couldn’t.

“We are pretty proud of them. They are doing good.”

Osmond is quick to credit her staff, which is now about 40 strong.

When the integrated mill opened in 1998, it reached an average daily production of about 40,000-50,000 board feet of lumber. Sometimes it peaked at 60,000 or 70,000 feet, she said, but not often.

The addition of a U-shaped saw — allowing the harvest of curved wood into straight lumber — and a new kiln to dry lumber and allow the operation to extend to year-round, has their sights set high.

The company’s most productive year since integration was six or seven million board feet of lumber, said Osmond. Last year, that total surpassed 12 million. This year the owner says 15 million is the goal.

“It means a lot,” she said. “The more production you put out the better, for our customers too. When you have customers ordering lumber, and they want it at a certain specific time, if you can’t produce it and get it out fast enough it tends to turn them the other way. It is nothing like giving them what they want when they want it.”

A new de-barker, expected to arrive this month, should help further increase production.

Osmond said between 15 million and 20 million board feet of lumber is the ideal production amount. They are not aiming at anything more than that, even if there is plenty of market to move that much lumber annually.

Burton’s Cove Lumber and Logging Ltd. supplies pressure treating plants such as Goodfellow Inc. in Deer Lake and Marwood Ltd. on the east coast and lumber to customers such as Stan Dawe Ltd., Shears Building Supplies, Chester Dawe and Kent Building Supplies.

The company’s byproduct — sawdust, bark and chips — is also sought after. Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is the primary recipient, using the waste as hog fuel for its cogeneration plant. The pulp and paper company also uses the sawmill’s chips to make paper. There is also a significant market for sawdust with farmers across the province.

“We are creating jobs, that’s the main thing,” Osmond said. “We just keep aiming high.”