September 2017 Issue
Banks Hampton Mill – Local Market, Local Opportunities!
60 WCSWA members met at the Hampton Lumber Mill in Banks on August 24th. The purpose was a unique opportunity to tour a sawmill that provides a local market for their logs. The mill, which was closed over a year ago, acquired new life when it was purchased by Hampton Lumber Company. It has undergone some modernization, and as part of a network of Hampton mills in the region, provides greater flexibility in marketing opportunities for small woodland owners.
The tour began with some history and an overview of Hampton Lumber Company policies by David Hampton, one of the family owners of the Company. David explained that the bedrock principles of Hampton are:
1) Sustainability – the ability of the company to survive in an industry that is known for its up and down markets. David pointed out that sustainability requires a reliable inventory of logs, a skilled workforce, and efficient mills.
2) Independence – the ability to adapt and be flexible in a turbulent industry requires being able to chart their own course. David said that the independence Hampton desires and needs is similar to what small woodland owners desire and need.
Hampton’s operating principles support their need for sustainability and independence:
♦ Careful inventory management – the biggest investment at the mill is the large pile of logs sitting outside the mill. The cost of logs is 70% of the cost of the finished products. Keeping the inventory “one log ahead of the mill” avoids tying up precious capital and operating cash. This principle has been passed down through Hampton ownership from its beginnings.
♦ Highest value products – log purchase and mill operation work together to achieving the highest percent possible of #1 grade lumber – where the profit margin is highest.
♦ Diversity of log suppliers – the three big sources of logs for the mill are Oregon Department of Forestry, cooperative arrangements with other industrial forestland owners, and small woodland owners. David was emphatic in stating how important small woodland owners are to their log procurement. He also said they strive to pay the best price possible for those logs.
David introduced his mill manager, Dave Kaiser, and other staff who helped with the tour. The Banks mill has 50 employees, which compares to the total number of Hampton employees – 1800. The mill operates on a 4 ten hour days per week basis. The mill is all electric and electric-hydraulic, and has many efficient features, including 1) a breakdown process of a head rig and system of re-saws for different dimensions (box cutting), and 2) an efficient internal transport system leading to a large stacker that sorts and stacks the various saw outputs by width, length, grade (replacing the old “green chain” many old-timers remember).
One of the biggest problems that Hampton faces in the mill is getting and keeping skilled employees. There are shortages in all categories. On the other side of the coin, the mill is breaking previous production records!
Read more in our September 2017 Issue
Last updated: September 5, 2017 at 20:25 pm