Logging waste prompts family to found The Wood Mill
to produce pallets, railroad ties in Union County
Company locates new, 30-employee operation in former lumberyard in Sturgis
Appalled by forest waste left on their land after logging and with no local facility to process it, Union County family members decided to open a zero-waste sawmill to produce railroad ties, pallets and other wood products.
A $1.1 million investment by Hutchison and Hopper family members will transform a five-building former lumberyard in Sturgis into The Wood Mill, Inc., a 30-job manufacturing venture.
Production at The Wood Mill could start in June following renovations to existing lumberyard buildings and installation of equipment. In addition to pallets and railroad ties, the facility will produce heat-treated firewood, saw dust for sale to local farms and crafted wood specialty products.
The owners plan to log their own land and purchase logs from local individuals and companies.
"We are excited about this new business venture and being able to locate in Sturgis. We would like to thank Union County First, Kyndle and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development for their assistance in this project," said Amy Hutchison.
She and her husband, Jim, along with his brother Matt, their uncle Perry Hopper and cousin Michael Hopper, own the new venture. The group already knows the logging industry - they co-own H&H Timber - as well as a scrap-metal business Hutchison & Hopper, LLC.
Amy and Jim also own Hutchison Trucking, which primarily hauls for local coal companies.
Last fall they hired a logger to cut trees on their land.
"We had to deal with all the waste and it really made us sick," Jim Hutchison said. "I had an excavator out there and piled up a bunch of logs to burn but we couldn't stand to. There aren't any sawmills close to us so we decided to look into that."
The Wood Mill will produce pallets for the coal industry and use a hammer mill to process smaller branches for chips and fiber. Larger branches will get split into firewood and heat treated to meet certifications for out-of-state transport.
"We just wanted to use the whole tree," Jim Hutchison said.
Sen. Dorsey Ridley, of Henderson, applauded the new venture.
"Our community looks forward to the success of The Wood Mill, its economic impact and the new jobs it will bring. The community is ready to fill new positions with skilled workers. Hutchison Trucking has been a good corporate partner and we look forward to building on that relationship as The Wood Mill grows and prospers," Ridley said.
Rep. Suzanne Miles, of Owensboro, said she appreciates the family's commitment to expanding in Union County.
"We look forward to other opportunities to employ more skilled workers in the region," Miles said.
Brad Schneider, CEO of Kyndle, the economic development agency for Henderson, McLean, Union and Webster counties, said when established companies consider adding different products and business lines, they often find new markets and rewarding ventures.
"It's always exciting when existing companies explore new ways to help their businesses prosper and grow, and The Wood Mill is a great example of that," Schneider said. "Kyndle is proud to help these courageous entrepreneurs create new jobs for Union County, and we look forward to assisting them in the future."
Union County Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins said he looks forward to the opportunity and possibilities that The Wood Mill Inc. could bring to the community.
"Manufacturing diversity is healthy for our local and regional economy, as is the in-direct impact that it will have. We look forward to working in any way we can with The Wood Mill Inc., now and in the future," Jenkins said.
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved The Wood Mill for tax incentives up to $460,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
In addition, The Wood Mill is eligible to receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.