By Jack Petree
In a day when the conventional sawmill industry has seen tremendous consolidation and most lumber is sold in big box stores or through wholesalers, AA Farms, Inc. of Canon, Georgia is an exception. The flexible sawmilling company is capable of industrial levels of production, but willing to sell one board to a local individual, or mill several hundred thousand board feet of custom sawn material. AA Farms has eliminated the middleman and shortened the lumber supply chain between sawmill and customer to the benefit of both the company and the customer.
Located on five acres, AA Farms came about as a result of Hurricane Katrina. “After the storm there was so much raw material for the taking,” Andy Adams, AA Farms’ owner comments. “I began to look for ways to make use of it.” Beginning with portable sawmills Andy soon found he was on the right track with his business model serving customers with custom products as well as dimensional lumber. Two Wood-Mizer LT70 sawmills soon became a Wood-Mizer industrial sawmill and more recently a Wood-Mizer WM4000 industrial sawmill. Today, the WM4000 is paired with a Wood-Mizer HR500 multi-head resaw and edger producing 10,000 board feet of material in 7 hours each day.
According to Andy, the flexibility of the WM4000 is a key part of his ability to serve the broad range of his customer base. “We take orders daily and our quick turnaround has a positive impact on sales,” Andy comments. “We have sold lumber for table tops, bar tops, beams for inside large box athletic equipment stores, construction projects, and all kinds of other uses. We recently did all the oak for a Cabela’s store and we mill hickory for a bow maker.” On the industrial side, AA Farms regularly mills poplar slats for some of the largest chicken and egg businesses in America, along with specially grooved boards for a metal roofing business needing lumber to safely ship roofing, railroad ties, and other numerous industrial applications.
The WM4000 industrial sawmill is just the latest in a long line of Wood-Mizer sawmill equipment Andy has utilized to grow his company. “The equipment is state of the art and the company stands behind its machinery,” he says, explaining why he has been a long time customer. Andy puts forward that a company providing industrial products at a competitive price must always look for better ways to do things. “We have looked at run times in an effort to improve efficiency,” he comments. “We use our own Wood-Mizer equipment to sharpen blades. We have found that when we have down time our crew can sharpen blades until we are back up and running.”
Timber to feed the AA Farms sawmill comes from a variety of local landowners and loggers. “We work with pine and oak mainly however we do have cherry, hickory, cedar, black walnut, sweet gum and cypress also available for our customers,” Andy explains. AA Farms also operates with a dry kiln because most of their customers prefer kiln or air dried lumber. Selling dried lumber can increase market value up to 30% while also providing customers with wood products that are less likely to warp, stain, or degrade in quality.
While successful, AA Farms is not a business looking to rest on its achievements. For the future, Andy says, “We plan on having the ability to produce more finished product such as flooring and finished lumber. Right now our biggest demand is on rough cut lumber. We would like to see a balance of the two as well as an integration of new and old.” While AA Farms provides its customers with a unique approach, Andy says the real key to growth, regardless of the size of a company is service. “Customer service is key,” he contends. “Give good customer service and people will come back which in turn will grow your business.”
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