A partnership between Delta Timber and Delta County Economic Development (DCED) may help lead to new commercial products and markets along with some operational efficiencies for the local forest products company.
Delta Timber's managing partner Eric Sorenson said that a DCED-assisted grant and feasibility study have identified economic potential in a by-product of his aspen processing mill.
Excelsior, a wood fiber product used in swamp cooler pads and other applications, could become a product sold wholesale in bulk to end manufacturers. The Delta Timber had formerly sold aspen wood to an excelsior manufacturer in Mancos.
Another new by-product the company had hoped to develop, wood pellets, has become uncompetitive in the market because of historic low natural gas prices, Sorenson explained.
Results of a second study also supported with DCED help are due soon. It is hoped that results of the study will help Delta Timber employ new technologies that would save energy in its lumber drying operation.
Sorenson made his remarks to members and guests of DCED during the organization's annual meeting on April 12 at Orchard City.
Sorenson and his business partners bought the local timber mill from the Burkey family in 1990, he said. They will have been in business here 22 years next month.
The bursting of the "housing bubble" beginning in 2007 and the resulting collapse of the local construction industry placed severe strains on Delta Timber's business. Another forest products company located in Montrose failed and was forced to undergo a process of recapitalization and restructuring.
Delta Timber also benefitted from some outside financial support during that time, including an offer from the U.S. forest service to renegotiate timber sale contracts for which there was no longer a retail market.
Today, Delta Timber is operating with 38 employees at its mill on SH92. The business also provides jobs for private logging contractors and road builders.
Delta Timber is continually looking for ways to diversify its product offerings, Sorenson said. Since the economic downturn, the company has expanded into spruce products to supplement the high-quality aspen paneling that is Delta Timber's signature product.
About 50 percent of the aspen tree stock that the company processes ends up as salable by-product. Wood chips, bark, and sawdust make up that product line, and other potential uses as animal feed supplements and soil amendments are being explored.
Delta Timber is working to overcome the challenges that all small businesses face in today's economy. And it faces other familiar, ag-based small business hurdles from ever-changing government regulations and weather, Sorenson said.blog comments powered by Disqus