November 27, 2021

Deal sparks growth

Lapeer firewood-processing equipment business expands

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Jim Crandall assembles a firewood-processing machine Tuesday.

A firewood processing business that opened in Lapeer in 2014 has been steadily growing and redefining itself, adding 10 jobs so far and looking to hire two more after acquiring a Vermont firewood company.

The official business name is still Automated Biomass Systems, said Marketing Director Brian Doran, but it acquired Vermont-based Timberwolf Firewood Processing Equipment in August 2017.

That is a well-known name in the firewood industry, said Doran, and it will continue to be used on the products coming out of the Lapeer factory.

Since the acquisition, the company has about doubled its output and added 10 positions, Doran said. It’s now looking to hire a comptroller and fill a sales and receptionist position.

The 25-person factory makes five types of splitters, three firewood processors — which saw and split the wood — four conveyors that take the wood off the processor machine, and a firewood cleaner that removes splinters and shavings from the firewood.

The business growth is good news for Marathon, said Karen Niday, director of project development for the Cortland County Industrial Development Agency.

Davis Eastman of Automated Biomass Systems welds the hopper to a firewood-processing machine Tuesday at the Lapeer business.

“It’s tremendous for Marathon, a tremendous boost,” Niday said. “They provide a nice wide range of jobs and it hits a lot of different households.”

Co-owner Matt Timmons moved his business in 2014 to the former site of Forkey’s Construction and Fabrication Inc., at 2235 Clarks Corners Road, from Colorado.

At the time he was looking to extend his market to the East Coast, and liked the fact the Lapeer location was heavily wooded.

Originally, Timmins pursued the side of the company that would provide wood materials as an energy source, but now the company is focusing on firewood-production equipment, Doran said.

“With the Timberwolf deal, it just came up and it was too good of an offer to pass down,” Doran said. “It really has at least doubled our call volume and sales volume.”

“We’re merging two brands into one new look for Timberwolf, instead of building the same stuff they were building since 1995,” Doran said. “It’s a new look for Timberwolf with long overdue improvements, but nothing crazy.”

Niday says she expects the business to continue to expand.

“I’ve always known, since the day he walked in here and I got to know him, he would be just like Forkey’s, walk in here and need a bigger facility, and need more power,” Niday said.

Randy Shute, who runs a landscaping and smokewood business in Baldwinsville, said he has bought Timberwolf products for seven years and he is very pleased with them, especially since the Automated Biomass Systems acquisition. The company’s crew bent worked hard to repair his machine after it broke down, even stripping one of their machines for parts to keep his running.

“They’re just a genuine old-fashioned company that believes in standing by their customers,” Shute said.