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Feature Story


Collins Lakeview Sawmill, Lakeview Oregon.
Collins Lakeview Facility, Doing The Right Thing 

By Wayne Miller

Portland, OR—Collins, headquartered here, has been family-owned since 1855. The company produces high quality wood products including Softwoods, hardwoods, engineered wood siding and trim, millwork, veneer logs and Pine particleboard. Collins also features a full line of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products.

Logs off of their 98,000-acre forest in Lakeview, OR, help the company produce 65 million board feet of Ponderosa and Lodgepole Pine, White Fir and Incense Cedar annually.

Facilities at this operation include a sawmill, planer and dry kilns.

Products are offered in Appearance and Industrial grades, dimension is available from 1”x4” through 1”x12” and 2”x4” through 2”x12” and lumber is offered from 8’ through 16’ lengths with random and specified widths.

Ninety miles east of Klamath Falls, OR, in a town of approximately 2,500 people, the Lakeview sawmill is situated in a small town void of signal lights, Wal-Marts™ and the “hustle-and-bustle” of city life. “We probably have more cattle in this town than we have people,” said Resource Manager Lee Fledderjohann.

Logs off of their 98,000-acre forest in Lakeview, OR, help the company produce 65 million board feet of Ponderosa and Lodgepole Pine, White Fir and Incense Cedar annually.
“Manufacturing began at this facility in 1945,” Operations Manager Dee Brown explained. “The actual plant site was originally a Louisiana-Pacific site. We owned the neighboring site and we bought Louisiana-Pacific out and moved over to this mill site. So it’s actually a sawmill that came from two sawmills that were side by side.”

Brown said the company cuts approximately 65 million board feet per year in dimension lumber scale, on a single shift. “We typically have around 75 employees here, counting hourly, salaried and forestry combined.”

As for typical log inventory Fledderjohann explained, “Our log inventory will fluctuate quite widely from springtime to when we stop logging for the year. We have a period in the springtime where we can’t be out in the woods logging because conditions are too wet for logging. So we need to build enough inventory to carry us from February to the middle of May. It tends to be at the end of January or February where we have our highest inventory. Sometimes we have more inventory than we would like to have. For example, last year we have 14 loggers on our property producing 143 loads a day, which is record setting for a small mill like this. This year we are averaging 70 to 80 loads per day.”

As for timber procurement, Collins owns 98,000 acres of fee land within the general area. “We own the lands, and fee title to the timber on it,” Fledderjohann explained. “One-third of the logs come from the United States Forest Service, one-third from company-owned land and one-third from outside private parties, whether it be large industrial companies or small mom-and-pop folks with 20 acres of timber to sell. We also have a lot of ranchers in the area that have timberland as well. So we have a variety of sources.”

Collins Lakeview Small Log/Mill Merchandiser Ray Turner.
Collins uses private independent contractors to take care of logging. “On our fee lands we set up an area that we feel it’s necessary to log for forest management purposes and we will negotiate with one of the loggers to go out there and harvest the timber,” Fledderjohann said. “We tend to have three to four loggers for the Forest Service contracts as well.”

Brown said the operation has two log lines. “We have a large log line and a small log line,” he explained. “Logs are sorted by diameter as they come into the mill. On the large log line, logs are debarked with a 50-inch Salem debarker. The larger logs are sent to a Klamath Ironworks conventional headrig carriage, which breaks the logs down for our Prescott horizontal resaw and Schurman double arbor gang saw. The Prescott resaw feeds a TMT board/gang edger. It has four saws for edging boards and a shifting gang bank with the capability to handle up to an 8-inch gang cant. Lumber from the TMT and Schurman edgers feeds into a surge area where we sort the lumber for quality and defect before sending it to our second surge area. At the second area we use an unscramble that singulates the boards before our new USNR Revolver lug loader places individual boards onto lug chains that go into our trimming and sorting area. On the small log side it goes through a Nicholson A5 debarker, which feeds a Coe Newnes McGehee SL2500 small log single pass machine that we upgraded in May of 2013. “The operator cuts the logs to length and monitors the debarker and SL2500,” Brown continued. “A single operator runs this side of the sawmill. He’s 300 feet from the actual small log-processing machine. The operator is in a cab outside of the sawmill where he’s doing the log bucking process. The machine runs automatically off of photo eyes and scanners. As the log comes in, it scans it, comes up with a solution and makes the turn automatically, positions the logs, and impales it on a Sharp chain. The recent addition of a Quad Saw Box, enables sawing sideboards off larger logs. Next the center cant goes into the chipping heads followed by VSA saws, which are vertically-stacked gang saws. The large log side of the mill is all straight-sawn and this is a curve-sawing machine so it’s curve sawing with the curvature of the logs to get the most out of it. Logs go in one end and lumber is transported out the other end onto a belt that merges into the mill flow destined for the trimmer and sorter. Ahead of the trim saws we have an Inovec optimizer for lumber trimming. Next it goes into a 28-bin Irvington Moore J-Bar sorter.

Gang Sorter Operator Sergio Cobian (forefront) and Gang Sorter Helper Rocky Soder.
Collins has four Wellons dry kilns with a total capacity of 650,000 board feet per charge. Once the lumber is kiln-dried it’s inventoried under the cover to protect it from the elements. Brown said the average inventory on hand is about 2 million board feet of green lumber waiting to go into the kilns and near 1 million board feet of dry inventory waiting to go to the planer. “Our ready-to-ship inventory goes up and down and typically runs at five or six million board feet,” he explained.

As for logistics, the operation uses contact carrier trucking companies as well as Lake Rail who operates the spur line. “There are times we may send 60 percent out by rail and the other 40 percent by truck,” Brown said. “It goes up and down. Both transportation methods are important to getting our product out.”

With the sales force located at the Portland, OR, office, Collins utilizes LumberTrack software for Sales and Inventory processing. “As the units are produced and tagged, the information goes into the real time inventory data warehouse in the Portland office,” Brown explained.

Lands Manager Travis Erickson said all the company’s timberlands are FSC certified. “The certification third-party verified that our timberlands are well managed for multiple uses,” Erickson noted. “One of the things that make our timberlands unique is that there is a very low percentage of timber that is produced from plantations. We manage multi-species and multiple age stands.”

(Left to Right): Lands Manager Travis Erickson, Operations Manager Dee Brown and Resource Manager Lee Fledderjohann.
Fledderjohann continued, “All of Collins’ lands are certified, whether they are here or in California or Pennsylvania. We were the first industrial landowners in the state of Oregon to be certified in 1997. Collins has a long history of forest management. We look at the long-term and manage the stands accordingly. This affords us the opportunity to manage the lands properly.”

Collins’ dedication to sustainability is evident in the way they are handling a fire that recently damaged thousands of acres of Collins timberland. “We are cutting the salvage logs here,” Brown said. “We’re not trying to hide it. It’s the right thing to do. We can’t leave all that wood out there, not rehabilitate and say, ‘oh well it burned up’.” Brown also said that they had to target additional new customers that could utilize lumber that has blue stain and potentially some grub and bug trace.

The family-owned company was established 1855, when T.D. Collins began timber operations in Pennsylvania. By the turn of the century, the family had expanded west to manage 96,000 acres in northeastern California. Today the firm’s holdings also include three forests, each with an associated sawmill, including the 115,000-acre Collins Pennsylvania Forest with Kane Hardwood, the 98,000-acre Collins Lakeview Forest in southern Oregon and northern California with the Lakeview Sawmill and the 96,000-acre Collins Almanor Forest in northern California with the Chester Sawmill (Collins Pine). Additionally, Collins owns Richwood Hardwood in West Virginia. Collins Products LLC, which manufactures siding and trim and Collins Pine Particleboard®; all are available FSC certified. For more information visit
Dave Hadley loading the kilns.

Logs are fed through a Wave Feeder.


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