CUSTOMER QUESTIONS ON FIREWOOD AND OUR ANSWERS
Over the years we have taken many questions from both new and previous customers. What follows are some of the most frequently asked questions (Q), along with our answers (A). To our many customers that have been with us for several years all this is old news but we still get many new customers and first time firewood buyers that tell us they find the Q & A format very useful. We hope this helps them and you in deciding your firewood requirements. The answers are based on our understanding of the industry and where appropriate, specifically reflect on our own approach to product processing and marketing, so please recognize that for some questions other firewood suppliers may give you a different answer. As the industry changes or when our approach changes we add current questions and/or revise our answers so even customers we have had for many years may find that it is worthwhile giving this a quick review. We have tried to group the questions in logical categories.
SECTION 1 – SOME QUESTIONS ON INDUSTRY and BMC TERMINOLOGY, FIREWOOD BLOCK LENGTHS AND WHAT QUANTITY TO BUY:
Q 1.1 How much wood is in a Face Cord?
A. 1.1 We believe this should be a standard response from any firewood supplier. A face cord is a stacked pile of wood that is 8.0 feet long and 4.0 feet high and is cut 16 inches long. When viewed from the side the surface area (rectangle) should amount to approximately (4 ft. X 8 ft.) = 32 square feet or (4 ft. X 8 ft. X 1.33 ft.) = 42.5 cu. ft. Other names for a face cord are: a rank; a rick; a stove cord or a fireplace cord.
A face cord is 1/3 of a “Full Cord”. A Full Cord is a stacked pile of wood that is 8.0 feet long, 4.0 feet high and 4.0 feet wide = (96 sq. ft. or 128 cu. ft.). This term was most common measure for selling firewood many years back. Most firewood suppliers now sell in face cords.
Q. 1.2 What length will my firewood be cut at?
A. 1.2 We try to cut all our firewood 16 inches long so that our customers get a full measure in their face cord (4 feet by 8 feet by X 16 inches). We use chain saws and our wood processor for this and as such, the length does vary slightly. We advise people that we cut nominal 16 inches. This will result in some variation both less than and greater than 16 inches in every order. You will find that some firewood suppliers cut normally at 14 or 15 inches. They are not giving you a full face cord for your money so ask the question before buying.
Q. 1.3 I have a fireplace insert that can only handle logs 12 inches or less. Can I order shorter wood from BMC that will fit my insert?
A. 1.3 For some customers firewood length is especially important. They may have one of the many fireplace inserts or a small wood stoves that are offered by several manufacturers that cannot accommodate the standard 16 inch log length. Many of these units can only handle a log of 12 inches or less. Given the demand we have for these shorter cuts, we now process and inventory shorter wood to service this customer need. Along with being shorter we also split it smaller to accomedate the smaller fire boxes.
Q. 1.4 What is seasoned wood?
A. 1.4 Although I do not believe there is any standard definition, it implies that the wood has been dried sufficiently to burn well. Most lab reports we have seen describe seasoned firewood as having dried moisture content of not more than 20%. We use moisture meters to determine the moisture content of all our firewood. Seasoned firewood that is air dried outside usually has a weathered appearance taking on a grayish color and is often, but not always, cracked on the ends. Firewood from those few suppliers like BMC Inc. who stack pile their wood to maximize drying should have firewood that is sun bleached on the ends.
Q. 1.5 What is stack piling?
A. 1.5 Stack piling is our definition for stacking firewood in long rows 4 feet high to facilitate a better drying environment. Most firewood suppliers’ just block and split into a pile because stack piling it is too time consuming and adds additional labor costs. The piles generally look like small pyramids. Most firewood species might adequately air dry this way as long as the piles are not so big as to totally restrict the air flow and a proper amount of dry time has been allocated to accommodate the highest density species. Unfortunately, many firewood suppliers end up piling their wood as high as possible. (We have seen pyramid piles 30 + feet high. The wood in the center of these piles dries very poorly.
At BMC Inc. we recognize the benefits that stack piling brings and use this approach on most of our firewood. It ensures better airflow thus creating a good drying environment and also keeps the firewood cleaner. Yes, it does cost us additional labor but helps us ensure we are providing our customers a top quality product. Ask potential firewood suppliers if their firewood is stack piled. If they do, it should give you more confidence that the firewood you receive will be seasoned. If their operation is not to far away, visit their yard before purchasing.
Q. 1.6 How much firewood should I buy for the season?
A. 1.6 Firewood consumption depends on a number of factors: personal objectives; type of burn application (is it a cosmetic fireplace application or are you using your burn appliance as a primary heat source possibly 24/7 or at least a heavy use supplemental heat source); the efficiency of your burn appliance(s); the number of appliances; the size and layout of your home and the certainly the quality of the firewood you burn.
Firewood species selection impacts the amount of heat energy you can generate measured in British Thermal Units (BTU’s), the consumption rate and the amount of residual ash you will generate. Species selection is very important with the denser woods like Oak, Maple and Beech usually generating more heat while taking longer to burn and thus reducing your overall consumption. Softwoods like Pine, Spruce, Cedar usually have very high consumption rates.
With the knowledge we have gained over the years by having a very large customer base, we have a very good idea as to what the typical firewood usage will be for any wood burning application (i.e. fireplace, wood stove or wood furnace) based on what is purchased every year by each of our individual customers. In very general terms, customers that are occasional fire place users will use between 1 and 3 face cords per year, customers with wood stoves or fireplace inserts that typically have fires going if they are home and are trying to reduce the use of their primary heat source will use between 5 and 8 face cords and customers that are heavy wood stove/fireplace wood insert users likely burning 24/7 and perhaps having more than one burn appliance or those having a wood furnace normally purchase 12 to 20 face cords. Customers with outdoor furnaces are usually 40+. Naturally these quantities can be better defined once we know the appliance(s) used, size of house, personal objectives and lifestyle issues.
As a general rule we always recommend to people that they should buy more firewood than they think they will use. This may sound self-serving because we are in the business of selling firewood but the reason for this recommendation is quite simple. Firstly, firewood can easily keep till next year so any you do not use this year will be used up eventually. Secondly, with the state of the market over the last 10 years, if you run out during the winter months it will be very difficult to buy more dry wood. It is simply not available. Thirdly, if you can find it mid winter you will likely pay 20 to 30 percent more than you did in July or August. Every year we get calls late in the fall or early spring from many new potential customers looking for dry wood. Our answer has always been the same – “we are sold out of dry wood. We have lots of wood in our yard but it is not ready to sell”.
Q. 1.7 I have a new EPA rated high efficiency wood stove that can handle 16 inch wood but the firebox is not very high. I purchased 6 face cords of Mixed Hardwood from a supplier and the wood is split too big. How big is your wood split?
A. 1.7 We have included this “specific question” because it identifies a problem that firewood purchasers need to be aware of. We are getting more and more inquires of this type every year from new customers that have spent a lot of money on one of the many new high efficiency wood stoves or high efficiency fireplace inserts that are now on the market. Unlike the wood stoves from the past, many of these units are designed with a firebox that is not very high. In years past, firewood split size was not as big an issue as it is today. Most firewood users usually had one of the older style “big box fireplaces” or the larger wood stoves that were quite common, especially in the rural areas. So as long as the firewood was seasoned appropriately the split size was not viewed as important. Firewood suppliers would not split their blocks very small because they felt the wood stoves/fireplaces could take the larger split size and they did not want to spend the extra labor needed to split the blocks smaller. In the rural areas, things have not changed as quickly as they have in the urban areas in that a lot of the older technology is still being used. Today, the difficulty many urban customers have is that when they purchase wood from some suppliers, the wood comes split too big for their new wood stoves/fireplaces. It might even look attractive because the price may be a little cheaper but they end up having to re-split it to get it to fit the new style burn appliances available today. So unless you are good with an ax or maul, have a splitting block at home and a really strong back – make sure the wood you purchase will fit your firebox, even if you have to pay a little more to get it.
Although we have many rural customers, our in Ottawa location outside Kanata results in the bulk of our firewood business coming from our urban customers in Kanata, Stittsville and Ottawa. For the last 21 years we have always provided what we call a medium split to our customers because we researched the market and felt we knew where the market place technology was going for burn appliances. Even though it increased our labor cost we split our firewood smaller to accommodate these newer technologies. That is still the case today. When purchasing from any supplier “split size” is an important question to ask. Over the years, when we have sold out of firewood, we have tried to purchase dry bulk split wood from many other suppliers located in the Ottawa Valley. Almost without exception we could not find suppliers that had put in the labor to consistently split their firewood blocks at a size that would be suitable to our customers, so we just could not purchase it.
If your fireplace or wood stove can handle a 16 inch firewood log then our medium split firewood should work for you.
Q. 1.8 I have a wood furnace and would like only big logs that are at least 16 inches long and are not split in as small a pieces as you would normally supply. Can you sell me firewood this way?
A. 1.8 Our operation is set up to accommodate the vast majority of our customers who purchase wood cut nominal at 16 inches and split to a size (medium split) suitable for most normal wood burning applications. Specific Customer requests for logs that are cut longer/shorter or logs that are split smaller/bigger can sometimes be accommodated by having us sort the firewood at time of loading for delivery. At that point in time this obviously takes additional labor to facilitate. Ask us for pricing at the time of order.
A better option for customers wanting non standard sizes is to order well in advance of need. Some firewood we sell in 2022 will have been processed in the fall of 2021 With advance notice we do not have to treat a different size as a special. We just schedule it in as a batch with other Customers with the same need. Another option is having a “Standing Order”. These Customers will take the same quantity, size and species type every year and we just send them a confirmation in May/June every year. This again allows us to block and split to a Customers specific requirement as part of our normal processing operation.
Q. 1.9 What is your “Economy Bagged Hardwood”?
A. 1.9 When using our wood processor we get many smaller irregular size and shaped pieces that do not fit into our normal 12″ or 16″ bulk firewood standards. We bag these smaller pieces up in large poly grain bags (approximately 1.5 cu. ft.). We call it “Economy Hardwood” only because we sell it at a very attractive price when compared to the commercial gas bar or hardware store bags you find that are usually .75 cu. ft. or 1.0 cu. ft. bags and are priced by retailers in the $10:00 to $12:00+ per bag range for approximately 6 or 7 firewood logs. You will find this product on our Price List.
The Economy Hardwood bags are made up from the same 5 premium species we sell on our bulk firewood Price List so no poor quality hardwoods. Customers with small wood stoves or wood insert fireplaces purchase it because the smaller size pieces fit well in their burn appliances. Other Customers use them for BBQ use, Hibachi stoves, Firewood Rings and Smoker applications where smaller size firewood is required.
Customers with full size wood stoves/wood fireplaces that don’t use enough firewood to warrant buying bulk firewood by the face cord find the bags convenient. The bags are cleaner when transporting firewood to the cottage, camping or in their homes. Customers can pick it up in our yard and usually fit 8 to 10 bags in a small car trunk and back seat. We are now finding that some Customers that were previously purchasing a single or perhaps two (2) face cords are now buying the equivalent in Economy Bagged Hardwood because of the convenience. For that reason we now do deliveries for bags as we do on bulk firewood. Customers find piling it inside the house or in a garage is much easier than the bulk wood and the bags keep everything very clean when carrying them to the wood stove or fireplace.
Some Customers may find that they still like the traditional 16 inch firewood when having a large open pit fire where the quantity of firewood consumed is not important to them. Although the Economy Hardwood is smaller size the cu. measure of the bags has this product only slightly more expensive than the equivalent cu. measure for bulk firewood on our Price List and significantly cheaper than the gas bar, department store or campground bags they normally can purchase. If log size is more important you can purchase our 16 inch bulk firewood or our commercial bags for your campfire at additional cost.
Q. 1.10 You now have Smoker Wood on the Price List. How big are the pieces?
We inventory 4 species of Smoker Wood. Cherry, Maple, Hickory and Apple. Pieces are small split (2 to 3 inch or less) that are suitable for residential smokers. They are sold in individual bags weighing approximately 10 to12 lbs. Customers having larger Smokers or commercial applications can also purchase larger bags of any of the normal firewood species found on our price list in either 12 or 16 inch lengths.
Firewood Customers can order Smoker Wood for delivery at the same time as their bulk or bagged firewood deliveries or you can just pick up in our yard.
Q. 1.11 Your website indicates you have a Lumber Mill and can do custom cutting. I am interested in live edge lumber for a Bar Top. Do you inventory them?
Yes we do carry 2 inch+ bar top/mantel inventory in Red Oak and Maple and can custom cut any species we have in our firewood product line and smoker product line to meet Customer requirements. We have a 20 inch planer for Customers wanting to purchase a more finished piece.
We also have some lumber cuts (1 inch+) of various hardwood/softwood species and sizes in inventory.
SECTION 2 – SOME QUESTIONS ON OUR FIREWOOD TERMS, THE DIFFERENT FIREWOOD SPECIES AND MORE ON WHAT YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER BEFORE ORDERING FROM US OR OTHER SUPPLIERS:
Q. 2.1 What is a “Single Species Order”?
A. 2.1 We have defined a “Single Species Order” as our being able to supply a customer with an order consisting of only one species of firewood. Depending on our ability to obtain the logs, customers can usually purchase face cords of All Maple, All Oak, All Ash, All Beech or All White Birch. We try to maintain an inventory of these based on previous years customer purchasing patterns, but we are limited to what mature wood species we can cut from our own managed wood lots and other wood lots we cut for various land owners, along with our ability to secure additional inventory from the eastern Ontario – western Quebec log markets. We believe by offering “Single Species Orders” we go a long way in taking the guesswork out of buying firewood for our customers.
Q. 2.2 Most firewood suppliers just offer “Mixed Hardwood”. Why do you offer these “Single Species Orders”?
A. 2.2 We do this because we know that many long-term firewood purchasers have become very knowledgeable on what specific characteristics of a particular wood species they like. They know the benefits of purchasing a face cord of a high density specialty species like all Oak, Maple or Beech which provide more heat, more burn duration/less consumption and less residual ash over purchasing something advertised as Mixed Hardwood where they don’t even know with certainty what various species they are purchasing. They are prepared to pay a little more to take that uncertainty away. They can understand that we must have extra labor costs associated with us keeping each wood species separate during the entire process of woodlot cutting, transportation, blocking, splitting and delivery to their home.
Customers know that they are getting premium value for their money spent by only having their preferred wood species in their order. They are not paying for any of the poorer quality hardwoods that they have found in their Mixed Hardwood orders from other suppliers. If they are purchasing All Oak, All Maple or All Beech because the their ability to generate heat they are prepared to pay a little more up front but actually save money in the long run because they can generate more heat using less wood. These species provide better value for meeting their burn objectives. Testimonial to that statement is that almost all our largest firewood Customers (those taking 20 all the way to 80 face cords) burn nothing but All Oak which is our most expensive offering. They do this because they have experienced Oak’s ability to reduce their overall firewood consumption making it a better value in the long run.
Another issue for Mixed Hardwood is that the various wood species may season differently. If the Mixed Hardwood you buy has some quantity of Oak, Hard Maple, Beech or equally dense hardwood your supplier has to season it so that the species requiring the longest time to season has been accommodated. If this is not done you may find that on delivery certain species in your Mixed Hardwood order might burn well while others do not.
We do still sell a large amount of our traditional Mixed Hardwood (it is premium in that it only has 5 species of wood) but have found that customer demand over the years has increased significantly in favor of our unique ability to offer a wide selection of single species hardwood. A proof to this marketing approach of offering “Single Species Orders” is that over 90% of all our sales over the last several years has came from our single species product lines.
Q. 2.3 What different wood species are normally found in an order of Mixed Hardwood?
A. 2.3 To our knowledge there are no industry standards covering what a cord of “Mixed Hardwood” should consist of, other than it should not include any Softwoods (pine, spruce, balsam, hemlock, cedar etc.). Technically, as the name implies Mixed Hardwood can be any combination of hardwoods. Firewood suppliers can tell you that their Mixed Hardwood is a any combination of Ash, White/Yellow Birch, Elm, Sugar Maple, White/Red Oak, Ironwood, Beech, Hickory. These in our opinion are all good quality species and if seasoned correctly should perform well. Unfortunately, in today’s market some firewood suppliers cut or purchase cheaper log species made up of other poorer grade hardwoods such as Basswood, Silver Maple, Red Maple, Manitoba Maple, Poplar etc. that will end up in your Mixed Hardwood Order. Again there are no standards as to how much of the poorer grade hardwoods can be in an order since they technically are still hardwoods. To the unknowing buyer this Mixed Hardwood with these poorer grade species may be priced attractively but it will generate much less heat energy and their quicker burn time will result in you having to use more wood. They will usually produce more residual ash and thus the need to clean out your firebox more often. In the end it is all about consumer expectations. Making it even more difficult is that most firewood consumers have great difficulty identifying specific species so buying Mixed Hardwood will be a guessing game at best.
When wood lots are being cut “Owners/Loggers” may decide to cut any hardwood that is mature. In these cases, whatever the mix in the wood lot ultimately will find it’s way into your next Mixed Hardwood order. The percentages are usually anybody’s guess although the Logger should always know what species he has cut and in what quantity. Bottom line – the consumer is really at the mercy of the firewood supplier or their own personal ability to ask the right questions on species before purchasing and also be able to identify species when the wood arrives. After interfacing with thousands of individual Customers over the years at delivery time – we understand that the latter is unlikely to ever happen. If you find a firewood supplier that consistently meets your expectations stay with them.
This is another reason why we choose to offer what we have called our “single species” products. Buying single species takes the bulk of the consumer concerns away, since the buyer knows exactly what he/she should be getting. Purchasing a single species will mean you get no surprises unless the firewood supplier has not seasoned the firewood properly. That said, we know of no other supplier in Eastern Ontario that offers the complete line up of single species products that are found at BMC Inc – Forestry.
Q. 2.4 I really don’t use my fireplace as a heat source. Do I need to buy the more expensive firewood species?
A. 2.4 Each hardwood species has different characteristics in terms of heat generation defined as British Thermal Units (BTU’S), quantities of residual ash, burn rates, amount of sparks, aroma etc. If your fireplace is just cosmetic you might find a supplier who processes poor quality hardwoods such as Basswood, Poplar, Manitoba Maple etc. that will burn but don’t possess the more favorable characteristics that the top quality hardwoods have. The trade off to most of these is that in general they will burn much quicker (you use more wood), they may create more smoke, don’t provide as much heat and may also produce more sparks. You might be able to buy them at a cheaper price but unfortunately most firewood suppliers do not sell the poorer grade firewood separately. They are usually sold as part of their Mixed Hardwood or Mixed Firewood inventory since that is all they offer. They are just not set up to sell you anything else. Given that you likely have a low efficiency fireplace where much of the heat is going up the chimney, we certainly would not recommend paying a higher price to buy something like All Oak although you will still get more heat if you did. We do have a large customer base using fireplaces that prefer using White Birch or Ash. These species still have good heat generating characteristics but they also have other characteristics some customers prefer. Both should be easier starting species. White Birch has a pleasant aroma to most people and many customers not only like the look of White Birch on the mantel but also the “snap, crackle and pop” sounds resonating from in their open fireplace application when burning it. Ash is a clean wood in that the bark usually remains intact when handling. Customers with a fireplace/wood stove located in carpeted rooms like Ash for that reason. It makes less mess when handling it. We still view both of these species as premium hardwoods but they are not as good as Oak , Beech or Maple in generating heat or long burn duration.
Another option (not one we recommend) is to find a supplier that sells softwood (pine, spruce, balsam, hemlock, cedar) for firewood. These species can usually be purchased cheaper than the hardwood species. Burning softwoods will increase your consumption dramatically resulting in more time spent loading your burn appliance and more trips to the wood storage area. Much of the money saved on price will be offset by burning more wood when you do have fires. If poor heat generation and more consumption are not important you should always be able to get them at a cheaper price.
Some suppliers will knowingly include softwoods in your firewood order by selling you what they call “Mixed Firewood” rather than the more traditional “Mixed Hardwood”. In many cases the unsuspecting customer usually believes he/she is purchasing various hardwood species but by calling it Mixed Firewood the supplier can include quantities of softwoods that are mixed in with whatever quantity of hardwood that is included. Suppliers usually charge a cheaper price for it. To the unsuspecting consumer, price wise it may look like a great deal but if long term heat generation and better consumption is important to you, don’t knowingly go down this path. There should be no softwood in a “Mixed Hardwood” Order.
At BMC Inc. we never process softwood for firewood. Only for Kindling.
Q. 2.5 I use my wood stove as a heat source with heat generation and firewood consumption being most important. What type of firewood do you recommend I buy?
A. 2.5 Maple, Oak, Beech, Ash and Birch are all native to the local area and in our opinion, are all good choices. Buying “Mixed Hardwood” from most suppliers is a guessing game since the different wood species that you may get in your particular order will likely vary significantly. The lower density hardwood species you will likely find in your order will certainly not generate as much heat.
Our personal recommendation for customers looking for heat generation and optimal consumption is to purchase one of All Oak, All Maple or All Beech. These species have good British Thermal Unit (BTU) ratings which equates to their ability to generate heat. The best of the three for heat generation is “All Oak”. Most Lab Reports will tell you that seasoned Red or White Oak will generate more heat energy (BTU’s) than Maple or Beech. Oak also gives you a more complete burn resulting in less residual ash than most other firewood.. Oak has higher initial moisture content than Maple or Beech and does require more seasoning. Beech has about the same heat generating ability and other characteristics as Maple. Certainly these three species will all generate more heat than White Birch or Ash and almost all the other hardwood species you can purchase locally in volume. Purchasing Oak, Maple or Beech will give you the consistency you are looking for, especially if you have a high efficiency wood stove or fireplace wood insert. Purchasing these will avoid the disappointment you have when you inevitably get your Mixed Hardwood from a supplier that has included poorer grade hardwood in your order. Use the Internet to review “BTU” counts by species. When Customers see the wide variations by species they better understand why purchasing a singles species makes good sense.
You will find that very few suppliers, manage their overall processing operation (from woodlot to your yard) in such a way that allows for the ability to offer face cords of these preferred choices that we view as premium firewood. You may pay a little more for the advantage of Maple, Oak or Beech but like most things you get what you pay for.
Q. 2.6 Should I buy kindling?
A. 2.6 Good kindling like our softwood “All Cedar or All Pine” certainly helps get any fire going. If you are purchasing a high density hardwood like Oak, Maple or Beech we always recommend purchasing Kindling. It helps establish a base for your fire and as an added plus, most customers find that it gives off a pleasant aroma. Another bonus to using kindling is that it preheats your flue to get a good draw working in your chimney. This helps to reduce fireplace or wood stove smoking especially now with so many people having to install smaller 5 or 6 inch stainless steel inserts inside their clay pipe chimneys in order to meet W.E.T.T. certification (Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc.) requirements placed on them by insurance companies. These smaller inserts do not have the same available draft as the older clay pipe chimneys
Some suppliers just pick up, bag and sell small pieces of their hardwood that have been sun dried. Our Kindling is “All Cedar or All Pine”, which we believe does the best job. We process this from dry cedar/pine logs that we bring in specifically for kindling. The Kindling is “very small split” and put in large size polyethylene bags. The price for our softwood Kindling can be found on our Price List, which you can request via email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can likely buy some softwood Kindling at your local gas bar or hardware store but it is very expensive compared to what you will get from us. As a norm we recommend purchasing at least 1 bag of Kindling for each face cord of bulk firewood if you are burning high density hardwood and more if you are only an occasional firewood user that will be lighting your fire more often.
Q. 2.7 What is a “Standing Order”
A. 2.7 Customers that know what species and quantity they want every year and want the security of receiving an early Order Confirmation can request inclusion on our “Standing Order List”. They do not even have to worry about placing an Order every year because we automatically send them an Order Confirmation (in the May/June time frame) that confirms availability of the quantity/species they took the previous year along with the price. They just confirm their acceptance by return email or telephone after making any adjustments they want in species or quantity. A delivery schedule can be determined at that time or later during a call from us. The advantage is that under normal circumstances they have the security of knowing they have their firewood requirements covered for the year. Many of our largest Customers have “Standing Orders” in place although it is now also becoming more common with smaller Customers who also just want the security of knowing they have the quantity and species they prefer.
SECTION 3 – QUESTIONS ON PRICING AND PAYMENT:
Q. 3.1 (A question asked by some potential new customers) Should I be shopping around to see if I could get a better price?
A. 3.1 If price is your only concern, then it is just a matter of getting on the telephone and responding to advertisements you find in local newspapers, local bulletin boards, internet sites etc. and then buying from someone offering or negotiating the cheapest price with you. With some effort on your part, you will always find someone that will offer you a cheaper price than you will find on our Price List.
That said this is not an approach we would actually recommend. Every year we get many new customers that most often hear about us through our existing customer base. From them we get insight into the problems they have faced previously with other firewood suppliers: short shipments; orders not filled period; firewood not seasoned; short blocks; poor quality mixed hardwood; delivery times not met; management never available for questions etc. etc. Most of their decisions to buy from these other firewood suppliers were predicated on getting the cheapest price. Your safest approach to finding a good firewood supplier is a recommendation from someone who has had personal experience dealing with them. Larger firewood suppliers who are running businesses should understand the importance of quality product and customer service, however there are no guarantees there either. That said, in our opinion, the larger suppliers should be a safer bet than the smaller operator that may only be around for one year and not the next. Once you find a reputable firewood supplier that has provided you quality product, good selection and customer service then stay with them. According to our many new customers, this is an industry where finding all that is difficult. Price is an important issue but not the only one to consider.
At BMC Inc. we have already created a different approach for: providing product availability; for ease of customer ordering; for having a desire and ability to professionally respond to customer questions and provision of an overall customer service model that is unique for the firewood industry.
When it comes to product pricing we don’t negotiate our prices. Potential customers are provided a formal detailed “Price List” that we have determined provides us the ability to sustain our growth and we believe is competitive in the market place for what we offer. We have been able to grow our business every year because our previous customers are receiving the quality products and service they want at a price they are prepared to pay. They are always our best advertising.
Although we don’t offer product discounts there may be some economy of scale on delivery for customers with large orders (12 face cords +). If we can deliver a large order by dump truck in one load and can do so cheaper than our advertised per face cord delivery price we will pass the savings directly on to you.
Over and above that, we believe that in any business trust and integrity go a long way. We do take pride in the many positive calls and letters from our existing customers. Check out our Customer Testimonial Section.
Q. 3.2 I live fairly close to your processing yard. Why do I have to pay the same price per cord for delivery as someone that lives 30 kilometers away?
A. 3.2 A major cost component for delivery is labor cost for loading and also unloading if our small non dump trailers are used. In many cases we hand load each trailer so to maximize the space utilization. Travel time is usually a smaller cost component than loading time and as such shorter distances have less bearing on our overall cost for delivery although this is changing with the significant increases in fuel costs we have experienced over the last few years and the fact that customer demand had resulted in us increasing the size of our delivery area over the years. We still continue to put restrictions on the delivery area we service so to preset our anticipated driver labor and fuel expenses. We will also charge extra for delivery outside our advertised delivery area.
Q. 3.3 If I pay in advance can I order my special size requirements for firewood without having to pay a “Special Sorting” charge.
A. 3.3 Paid in advance Orders are accommodated by special arrangement. This will avoid having to pay a “Special Sort” charge. Unfortunately the nature of seasoning (drying) the firewood and our own operations requirements result in a Special Order having to be placed months in advance. Understandably, we expect people will feel uncomfortable paying that far ahead. Another option is to buy “green wood” long before you plan on using it. You can then get the size you want at no additional charge because you will receive the wood when it is being blocked and split to your special requirements. Unfortunately you may end up getting it at a time of the year that does not fit your own personal schedule.
Q. 3.4 Can I pay by personal cheque ?
A. 3.4 Non Sufficient Funds (NSF) cheques are a major problem for any business but especially for small businesses that do not have the dedicated staff to deal with them. The Terms shown on our Price List state “Payment is by cash or cheque at time of delivery” or E-transfer prior to delivery. The use of electronic money transfers now make over 90 % of Customer payments. Any cheque must be dated to the day of delivery or before. We do not accept postdated cheques. You will find that almost all small firewood suppliers and many of the larger suppliers will insist on cash only. Also see Q. 3.6 below.
Q. 3.5 Why do some suppliers charge the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and others do not?
A. 3.5 All businesses that reach a specific $ revenue threshold are required by law to collect the HST. Forest product businesses (firewood suppliers) are no different. BMC Inc. is an incorporated Ontario business that has had great success in growing our Product and Services supply businesses. Our past and continued success obligates us to collect the HST. Naturally, we are proud that our business marketing and service model have translated into the revenue growth resulting in us being one of areas largest firewood suppliers but with that success, we have to collect the HST. As in any business, ethical owners and/or managers usually run ethical businesses. Our HST number is listed on the Price List for those Customers that can claim back the HST.
Q. 3.6 Can I pay using an Interac Transfer?
A. 3.6 Yes you can. We now have over 90% of our Customers using the convenience of electronic transfer of funds. It also negates the need for Customers having to be at home to make payment when we deliver their Order. The only requirement is payment must be made prior to delivery.
SECTION 4 – QUESTIONS ON CUSTOMER PICK UP IN OUR YARD, DELIVERY BY US AND FIREWOOD STORAGE:
Q. 4.1 Can I order one face cord and have it delivered?
A. 4.1 Our normal Price List minimum quantity for delivery is 2 face cords but read on. Most suppliers will not deliver a single face cord. The business economics to do so just make no sense. In fact, we are aware of many suppliers that have minimum order quantities of 3 or 4 face cords all the way to 10 for delivery. Over the years we have had considerable demand from mostly urban customers to deliver a single face cord. By 2010 with our then large extended customer base we started to take Orders for a single face cord but customers have to pay the 2 face cord minimum delivery charge on our Price List. We could offer this because we then had regular customers throughout our advertised delivery areas and our sectioned trailers allow us to take 2 different orders at the same time and dump at two different locations. Our objective for delivery is to always cover our costs and as such we will try and combine an order for one face cord with another order for 2, 3 or 4 face cords that is being delivered somewhere in the same area. You may have to wait a bit to get your order but we will certainly try and accommodate new and past customers that only require a single face cord.
Q. 4.2 Can I pick up my Order in your yard and not pay the delivery charge?
A. 4.2 Yes. Our Price List and Order Form are set up so that the cost of the firewood (by species) is specified and the delivery costs are identified separately. If you decide to pick up in our yard it is a self serve requirement with us measuring off your purchase from one of our stacked piles of bulk firewood and the customer loading their own Orders.
Q. 4.3 I want to purchase single species hardwood from you but live outside your advertised delivery areas. Will you deliver outside your advertised area.
A. 4.3 We get many requests to purchase firewood from us from potential customers living outside our advertised delivery areas. We review these on a case by case basis always with the intent of at least covering our delivery costs. For Customers placing an Order that require delivery outside our advertised area we do a MapQuest location review and provide a delivery price prior to Order Confirmation from us.
In our opinion with the present industry price structure, delivery is really a lost leader for suppliers that sell firewood. The labor cost associated for loading, driver labor travel time, fuel costs combined with costs of truck and trailer licenses, insurance, safety checks, ongoing maintenance and depreciation on equipment used for delivery in total do not cover the costs for delivering. That all said, most Customers do not have trucks or trailers suitable for hauling heavy firewood from our yard so we have to be in the delivery business in order to sell our firewood.
Q. 4.4 Is there a best time to have my firewood delivered?
A. 4.4 Firewood can be delivered at any time of year. Most new Customers seem to prefer delivery late in the season. This is understandable since our local burn season usually does not start till late September or early October and many of you do not want to be thinking about stacking firewood in July or August. That said, you should consider that our local weather patterns usually start to change in mid September and on into October with the likelihood of rainstorms increasing dramatically. Most of our long term Customers have now accepted our recommendation for earlier delivery and moved to early summer deliveries with July and August now also being busy delivery Months.
We believe June, July, August or at latest early September work best for firewood delivery for a number of reasons. Firstly, most firewood suppliers air dry their firewood outside so firewood not delivered until late in the year has a much higher likelihood of surface moisture since it will usually get rained on several times in late September and October. This surface moisture dissipates when the wood is finally stacked out of the elements but it will take time especially if it is late in the year when the temperatures are much cooler. Any firewood delivered in October/November/ December will most likely have taken a lot of rain that ultimately freezes. It may take several days at room temperature to dissipate it. If the moisture is frozen in it will take a hot fire to get rid of it using your BTU’s to dissipate moisture rather than heat for your home. See our recommendation below.
Do not burn wet firewood. When wood is burned in a woodstove or fireplace volatile gases and vapors are produced. As they go up a chimney that is cooler, they will condense on the inside surfaces causing creosote which is combustible and can cause chimney fires. A smoldering, low temperature fire will produce more creosote than a high temperature fire because the hotter fire burns off more of the combustible gases.
1) You minimize creosote buildup by burning a quality seasoned firewood species that will provide a higher heat component and has no surface moisture.
2) No smoldering fires. Keep your vents open wide in air tight stoves.
3) Cleaning your chimney frequently
Another delivery issue is that large firewood suppliers like us, who have their own woodlots or custom cut for other landowners usually start most of their cutting in early to late fall. Scheduling deliveries becomes more difficult for them in late September or into October when their workers are often occupied performing bush work and are not in the delivery loading yards. We also have fewer hours of daylight in these months to try and get everything done.
Another point on a personal note is that you will not enjoy stacking your firewood and trying to cover it in one of the many late fall rainstorms.
Q. 4.5 How do you deliver the firewood?
A. 4.5 We deliver using different size trailers or trucks Our smallest trailers allow us to deliver two face cords and are used when in situations where we have limited access (small lane ways). The vast majority of customers take 3 or more face cords. We typically will use our hydraulic dump trailers for those orders. Our dump trailers are sectioned, which allows us to accommodate 2 different orders or keep 2 different wood species separate. Our dump trailers will handle up to 8 face cords. Large orders (depending on the distance traveled) can be delivered using a full size dump truck. We have found over the years that most of our large customers (10 to 20 face cords) still prefer to take staged deliveries (6 or 7 face cord at a time) even though it might be cheaper to take it all in one load. This allows them to have the wood dumped closer to where they intend on storing it. Less time them less time to pile it. They can stage their storing activity over a few days or even weeks by scheduling time between deliveries and that puts less stain on their personal time requirements and their bodies.
Q. 4.6 Do I need to keep my firewood dry after delivery?
A. 4.6 Yes, this is very important. Also see Q. 4.3 above. If at all possible, firewood should be protected from inclement weather regardless as to when you get it delivered. If stored outside, covered sheds, carports, or garages are good but not always practical. At the very least, stack dry firewood 4 to 6 inches off the ground and protect it from the rain and snow by covering it with plywood, metal or plastic. If using a tarp leave the sides open because any moisture still in the wood or water that gets under it will be trapped, setting up ideal conditions for wood decay. If you can get any quantity of your firewood into a heated garage or basement do it. It will help take any surface moisture out of the wood making your burn experience a more pleasant one. Trying to burn wet wood is certainly not recommended.
Some customers (especially those with wood furnaces) choose to store their firewood inside their homes. They do this so that the firewood is close to the wood furnace allowing for ease of loading. As mentioned above this is likely the best situation you can have in that room heat will continue to dry the wood out especially if it has taken any rain before storage. Customers storing firewood inside do have to remember that some insects (ants, beetles etc.) can be found in firewood so consideration needs to be given to that when you choose to store your wood inside your home.
Q. 4.7 Where can you dump the firewood?
A. 4.7 Our small trailers allow for some flexibility on where your wood is dropped. The physical size of our larger dump trailers does not allow for much flexibility in dumping. The dump trailers can weigh up to 14,000 pounds and as such, we are restricted to dumping off in locations that are hard packed (usually lane ways) and away from wells and septic beds. In any case, given suitable access, we will certainly make every effort to dump the firewood in a location that is as close as possible to where you will be storing it.
Q. 4.8 Will you stack the wood for us?
A. 4.8 Delivery only includes unloading the wood in an area that we believe is safely accessible. No stacking is included. We can supply the labor for stacking at additional cost. This needs to be scheduled in advance but we usually try and schedule the stacking for the same time as the delivery or shortly after.
HOPE THIS HELPS
BMC Inc. – Forestry