Pdwoodbutchers' Portable Sawmill Service in South Carolina


Making better lumber, teaching basic value

Hurricane Matthew

Long time since last post. Oldest  son studying in China. Youngest son sophomore in college. Both paying their own way. Both being paid to go to college.  I am cutting lumber and doing damaged timber recovery.  Call me if you need either



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First things first

Life is full of the debates as to what comes first.  Chicken and the egg. Cart and the horse.  Man and God.  You get the picture.   So when one steps out to begin a new business, what comes first, the business or the customers.   What I mean is, do you create demand, then build capacity; or do you start with capacity and drive demand.   My first concern lies in the capital requirements.  The landscape is littered with the carcasses of businesses started and equipped based on  potential business.   But potential business does not pay realized bills.  Or do you risk alienating those early customers because  the offering does not compete, either directly or indirectly?

Well all that becomes moot when necessity cries out.  The wail of necessity takes a couple of different forms.  The first one is when your venture can not keep up with what the customer demands.  That’s different than keeping up with demand.  You see, demand by itself is a economic entity.  Simply defined, it’s how much of a product or service can a given market contain.  Put the word customer with it, and now it takes on human characteristics.  The most important human characteristic is expectation.  Expectations embody several concepts, the most important are quality and performance.  I think success can be measured by how wide the gap is between a venture’s economic supply and the customer’s demand for quality and performance.  With that thought in mind, I have recently   experienced the pleasant surprise that customers will temper their demand for performance, provided that a venture’s supply will increase quality in exchange.  People will wait for quality, particularly in tough economic times.  Offer more basic quality, and success is not too far off.

Another necessity is maintaining supply.  Recently the mill suffered damage that I could not easily and inexpensively repair.  Production stopped.  I will lose production while awaiting repair parts,  plus the cost of the spare parts.  Or I can take a leap.  I can order a newer higher capacity mill and not only restore supply, but also expand it.  How far a leap?  Well,  the repair parts will cost 30% of a months projected revenue.  A new mill costs 400% of a month’s projected revenue.  That means I spend 30% to get back to the status quo.  Or I spend 375% more and gain 400% in production.   The new mill will increase my production from x to 4x.  Mathematically,  it’s a no brainer,  emotionally, it takes commitment.

Now all I need is a vehicle that can make it to Dothan Al and back.  That’s where the new mill is….

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Typical Portable Sawmill Savings

Pee Dee Woodbutchers turns trees into lumber. We work with farmers, homeowners, hunt clubs and small woodlot owners.
Typical pine log 12′ long x 18″ diameter, can make 16 2×8’s, 12′ long




grand total

lumberyard 16 ea 2x8x12



$6.60 each


1 hr to make 16 ea 2x8x12


you save


Send us an email with “lumber” as the subject to arrange a visit. We will come to you and give you an estimate. pdwoodbutchers@gmail.com

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Taking my own advice

I am always amazed at the cycles in life. Obviously, the longer one stays on this earth, the more trips around the sun and more time for the cycles to repeat themselves. One of my favorite cycles is the one that wisdom always comes home to roost.

For many years, I made my way by sharing with people my advice on a broad variety of things. Once I shared with a friend and client some good advice. People are at their best when they are focused. Nothing yields more mediocre results than the undefined mission. Decide what you want to do, then focus on it. In the previous case it involved why did their business exist. Was it a mission field or was it a business? Both are valid, but one must choose the prime motivation.

Pee Dee Woodbutchers emerged as a teaching tool for me to share some essential skills with my sons. It also encapsulated the germ of a viable business. So I started planning to grow a business. The most important initial step of an emerging business is getting the word out. Since the Internet is broad and free, I delved into the various channels of communicating about our business. Blog, Craigslist, website—check, check, check.

The word got out. I was most pleased with the response from Craigslist. A very simple ad returned some very solid leads. Leads generated orders and orders generated revenue. How simple! And free! I am a born tinkerer, so I wanted to tinker with the mix. I learned to read a little. Everything pointed to linking the website with the Craigslist ad. More information and more ways to communicate are available thru the website. So my three leads with Craigslist alone would be multiplied by the power of the website.

Here’s the bad news. Lots of hits, but no leads. What went wrong? The website went wrong by getting out the wrong message. Because the website had become a soapbox for my business philosophy. People went to the website looking for a value, but that’s not what they got.

I’ve started trimming and focusing the website to make it about the value of harvesting trees. That’s what people expect. That’s what I must provide thru the website. Besides blogs are for soapboxing. so that’s where the philosophy will come out.

Merry Christmas

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Going Public (the old fashioned way)

Recently a diverse group of people sat around a conference table:
Two veterinarians
a pharmaceutical rep
a private high school teacher
a homemaker
a librarian
and me

The basic theme tracked along the disconnect between our leadership, the media and the rest of the country. With all the ballyhooed green shoots of recovery, Lowes and Walmart are empty. On Saturday. The struggling majority do not believe that government can fix the problems of the economy and healthcare. This is not based on political slant, but on observation of behavior. Government performance in the area improving the situation is abysmal. People know this.

Since the government will only make the situation worse, this diverse group concurs that the coming times will not get better. They will get tougher. Your fault, my fault, the government’s fault, nobodys fault. In the near future, times will challenge us to think in different ways. We will jettison old paradigms and must assimilate newer, grittier realities. The kinder, gentler nation is gone.

In the midst of this shared reality, I shared my vision. A simple vision. I will strive to produce something of a basic simple value. Nothing derived or hyped or turbo marketed. No discussions about perceived value. Simple value addition. It was “x”, I added my effort and now its worth more. Just something of basic value. Not to get rich and definitely not to contribute to a 401k. As I do this myself, I will pass it on to my sons.

This past Saturday, my oldest son worked me like a dog. We ran the sawmill from 8am to 530pm. No breaks. Nothing but Lance peanut butter crackers and water. We took abandoned logs and turned them into lumber. As young Allan ran the mill, the farm owner/carpenter and I shouted over the motor. He marveled that a 14 year old boy would work for 8 hours non stop. You see, he knows the generation that’s chained to a game console or a computer. As a producer of goods he can’t mesh the worlds need for production with hours and hours and hours spent in a fantasy world. He can see what will happen when circumstances turn off the console or computer. The generation will have nothing of value to offer. No skill, No ethic, nada. They will bitch and moan and run home. They will apply for jobs, but no one will hire them.
Honestly though, its really not their fault. No one taught them otherwise. Everyone and everything around them sought to validate them, not educate them.

I hope and I pray that my sons will have the most important thing to offer. They will know how to produce, how to contribute and how to build. That’s the basic value.

God Bless


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Making better lumber, teaching basic value

Pee Dee Woodbutchers began with the dream of building  a small cabin on Lake Norris in Tennessee.  Hoping to build it from the trees available on the property, my two sons and I needed to learn how to mill trees into lumber.  We started with an Alaskan saw mill.   After bartering for some local pine trees,  we taught ourselves  how to mill rough timbers.  Because I always think I can come up with a better way to do things,  I experimented and tinkered to build jigs to cut lumber faster.   After many hours and tinkerings, I concluded that the best way to speed up production would be the buy a real mill. Well, real mills aren’t cheap, so it needed to make money.  Pee Dee Woodbutchers was born.

Here’s how it works.  Allan is 14 and Hixon is 12.  Society continues to give them a one sided education.   Like so many of their contemporaries,  they clearly understand consumption.  What they do not understand is production.  How to make something.  How to earn something.  The “village” around them patronizes them by underestimating their value and employing them with menial tasks.  Babysitting, yard cutting, mail gathering serve only to put spending money in their pockets.  In turn, this fuels their consumption, with no other benefit.

Pee Dee Woodbutchers exists to teach them the production side.  The basic values in production are:

Make a good product.
Meet a need.
Plan your work.
Work hard.
Don’t goof off.
Work smart.
Maintain integrity.
Earn a profit.  Even if just a penny.

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Business for a portable saw mill

How does one drive business to a portable saw mill?  Back in the 90’s, a book came out called Guerilla Marketing.  It focused on marketing on a shoestring, with a dash of excellent customer service.  Basically it recognized and advocated ” word of mouth” as the most effective way.  So that’s what we plan to do.  We also study the blogs of those who are currently in the portable saw mill business,  looking for tips.  A good one  was posting bulletin board cards in hunting and fishing stores.   Another focused on being your own best customer by building things from the lumber you cut.   It seems that people are more willing to give away the trees than to pay to have them milled into lumber.   Knowing that trees have value,  some people want to sell a couple of trees.   What the market has lacked is  an outlet for those people.  We’ll see.

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What makes it good

Tsk Tsk Tsk.  So much potential….he coulda been a contender….


If you really want to understand read the book of Ecclesiastes 1  http://www.biblegateway.com/

As my oldest son and I left from a recent saw milling project, he said, ” Dad,  I know why you like doing this ,(saw milling)  you work with good people.”

It is that simple.  Life is too short to dance with ugly women.  Or work with ugly people.  Thanks be to God that he gave us a country where we can choose.


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Why I think it will work

In the time that it takes for me to write this post,  the economic paradigm will shift ten times.   What is more disconcerting is the rate of change.   What was an acceleration of a power of 2 today will be an acceleration of the power of 3 tomorrow, and so on.   As the rate of acceleration accelerates,  the breakdown point approaches faster and faster.    OK, then just turn the wheel.   problem is that its not you approaching the wall,  its the walls closing in around you.  Kinda like Luke Skywalker in the Deathstar trash compactor.   That’s if you continue to buy into the various economic theoretical extrapolations.  Listen to the media and the talking heads and you will hear the supposition, “maybe free markets don’t work so well.”

My theory is simple.  People will always need the basics-food, clothing and shelter.  They’ll even sacrifice security for them.  Meet those needs, and there will always be a market.


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Why I do What I do

after twenty odd years selling stuff for other people, I realized that all they added to the equation was a product to sell and a place from which to sell it.  And I agree that  they deserve some recompense for that particular value added. However I don’t  think the value was worth the 60 hour work week that they demanded, the unconditional loyalty they expected  or the 25% overhead they extracted from my sales.   Furthermore,  I no longer wanted my job security to hinge on the fickleness of a intellectually and physically disconnected authority.

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