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New Technology, Employees Add Value At Hancock
By Terry Miller

Russell Coulter, general manager of operations at Hancock Lumber Co. in Casco, Maine, shows the award Hancock recently received at the Eastern White Pine Graders Competition.
Casco, Maine–Hancock Lumber Co. has been servicing the industry with Eastern White Pine since 1848, but the facility and equipment are kept up-to-date to ensure each customer gets the best quality lumber, according to Russell Coulter, general manager of operations for all three of the company’s sawmills. He added that the company is on a program of optimizing each one of the major machine facilities.

The newest upgrade to the Casco mill is a PHL edger with autolog optimization scanning, which Coulter said would affect 40 percent of their product in a positive way.

“We get the same number of boards through the machine, but they will be longer and wider, and will be processed more quickly,” Coulter said. “So, even though it’s the same number of boards going through the machine, we are getting more fiber out of each board that is processed.”

Coulter has already seen the benefits of this machine in the firm’s other two locations, which are situated in Bethel and
Hancock recently added a PHL edger with autolog optimization scanning, which Mike Shane and Bruce Buzzell are standing in front of.
Pittsfield, Maine. Both are equipped with machines like the one recently installed at the Casco mill. He says that the edger will increase the production of the Casco mill from 18.5 million board feet annually to over 20 million board feet, according to Coulter.

“We are projecting to ship 65 million board feet to customers in 2005,” he stated. “Thirty percent of that is going to be pattern and the rest will be dressed, four sides boards.”

Not only will this improvement increase production, but it will also cut back on the amount of physical labor needed to run the operation, according to Bruce Buzzell, sawmill manager.

“It’s much more work-friendly environment with the new automation,” Buzzell said. “We are not dragging boards anymore, it’s all automated.”

This, according to Mike Shane, general manager of the Casco mill, is not only beneficial to the employees in the mill, but also
Mike Michaud, Matt Duprey, Wayne Huck, Matt Corbett and Peter Webb are just a few of the key individuals on the team at Hancock.
to the customers who will get a more valuable product.

“Everybody wins,” Shane said. “We’re getting more value as the producer and we’re giving the customer a higher-value product.”

An addition was added to the original building in Casco to house the new machinery. This leaves the band saw as the only piece of equipment in the original building, providing more room for the operation to grow, according to Coulter.

Joakim Walhstrom, chief operating officer for the sawmill division at Hancock, added that Hancock is already adding more trays to the sorter in the planer mill at the Bethel operation. He emphasized they are always looking for ways to improve their products through technology, automation and optimization.

“What that means to the customer is that we have more flexibility to sort the lumber into different sizes and lengths, according to customer specification,” he said.

Shown here are two of the award-winning graders from the Hancock sawmills, along with Dan Wetmore (center).
Matt Duprey, the sales manager at the company, also added that the goal is to make business easier for our customers and ultimately the end user.

“We’re evaluating ourselves daily, weekly, monthly and yearly on how we can make it easier for our wholesale customers to buy lumber and ultimately market our lumber,” he commented. “We’re spending a lot of time looking at ourselves and really listening to the feedback we get from our customers.”

All the work on the facilities at Hancock is to benefit its customers, according to Coulter, and a part of that is making sure that the grades on the lumber are accurate in order to get the most quality out of each board.

At the second annual Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Assoc. Eastern White Pine Graders Competition held earlier this year, seven of Hancock’s employees were in the top 10, Hancock’s Ken O’Leary taking first place. Also, mills with a minimum of two graders in the competition were eligible for the team championship. Hancock Lumber’s three locations took first and second place and tied for third.

“One of our biggest goals is consistency to our customers and on-grade production,” Coulter said. “They can expect to see that from us and I’m sure they do.”

From upgrading machinery and equipment to hiring and keeping some of the best graders in the region, Hancock is committed to providing their customers with the best products on a consistent basis, according to Coulter.

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