Keeping the Home Fires Burning with DYNA Products wide selection of Firewood Processors - Plain Communities Business Exchange, LLC - November 2019
In 1998, Nathan Miller and his brother Norman began manufacturing sawmill related equipment in Michigan. For several years, the brothers also designed and manufactured custom equipment for the milling industry. “Norman left the company about five years after we started the business,” Nathan explained during my recent visit. Much has taken place within the company which Nathan helped form more than twenty years ago.
The brothers had founded their business and entered the industry at a time when rustic furniture was trending, according to Nathan. After 2008, the market for rustic furniture seemed to take a nose-dive, resulting in a decreased demand of sawmill related equipment (especially custom manufactured) which Miller had been creating.
“In 2009, our company had the opportunity to enter the firewood processor market,” Nathan explained. “We jumped in with both feet— the timing was perfect, regarding how the economy was shifting, etc.” Due to the economic climate, Miller and his team had one year to “get solidly into that market.” They were successful in their new endeavors, and the extended line of firewood processors which we will discuss in the following paragraphs are a result of intentionality, ingenuity, and lots of hard work.
In time, as they became more invested in the manufacturing of their elite line of firewood processors, they sold the other entities they had acquired throughout the years and primarily focused on creating and manufacturing a diverse line of firewood processors. “That is all we do now,” Nathan remarked. However, in 2014, the company saw that the market was shifting again, and thus became committed to renting their firewood processors to interested homeowners.
“Our theory was, since no other company is doing that (renting) there was a unique opportunity there for us. When we learned that the demographic for renting a processor is much greater than buying one, we focused strongly on that,” Nathan remarked. Due to the elevated cost of owning a processor and perhaps only using it a few times each year, the company made it their goal to branch into the rental industry with expectations of providing a reliable product which can be used for a weekend or a few days, at a fraction of the cost of ownership of the equipment. (Most people only need a processor for a few days, which in these situations, renting makes perfect sense).
Since the realization that rental units of their machines would be desirable to majority of homeowners, Dyna Products began building an impressive inventory of their firewood processors, so that interested individuals throughout North America would have the opportunity to rent their products more affordably. “We rent all over, coast to coast,” remarked Noah Yoder, a business partner and rentals manager at Dyna Products.
Although many individuals have warmed to the idea of renting a firewood processor, some are still more interested in purchasing one, which can also easily be done. Dyna Products sells their processors to dealerships and individuals across the world. Yes, global companies such as Abercrombie and Fitch, universities such as Harvard University, as well as the US military have purchased firewood processors from the Michigan based company. Harvard students use their processor within the university’s forestry program, while A&F employs their processor at their corporate campuses. Several churches throughout the United States have also purchased or rented firewood processors.
“We have also sold a few to New Zealand and are currently in the process of establishing dealerships in Japan,” Louie Weaver, sales manager at the Dyna Products enterprise, shared as we discussed the future endeavors of the company. “Countries such as England, France, and a few others continue to show potential, as well,” he added.
For several strategic reasons, the creative minds which fuel the reliability of these firewood processors have put a considerable amount of energy into creating a quality product that exceeds their competitors products. “Our rental industry demanded that, as well. There are serious repercussions if you attempt to rent junk,” Nathan explained. “We build these processors from scratch. We have about fifteen-hundred of them out in use at the moment,” he added. (This number includes processors which were sold as well as rental units).
“One of the interesting concepts about the rental business is, that five years ago, there was practically no rental market,” Louie explained. “We were able to create a whole new market by offering that product. And now we have rental units in approximately thirty-five locations. When we talk about purchasing a firewood processor at one of our trade shows, the option of renting one is just a natural part of the conversation,” he added.
Renting is more feasible for most people, since these units can be a bit pricey. For individuals who are interested in purchasing a processor and would eventually like to own one, renting becomes an opportunity for them, as well. “We started this a little under the radar, and I guess we kind of caught the industry by surprise,” Nathan offered, while going into a bit more detail. “We initially got booed, pretty badly, actually, from our industry peers. The thought was we are actually switching marketing strategies, which we aren’t.” Renting as a marketing tool is very effective and successful, and Dyna Products had that confirmed in some of their decisions with global companies, like Caterpillar, whom they purchase engines from.
The creators of the extraordinary firewood processors at Dyna Products have been, from the onset, intentional about designing a machine that is exceptionally user-friendly. I can attest to this; I tried my hand at the controls and after a few brief questions directed towards Noah, I was able to navigate the control modules in a relatively straightforward fashion. “This was an original thought, to make these machines as easy as possible to operate,” Nathan remarked. “With minimal instructions, most renters of our units can be very productive within an hour.”
Multiple safety features are outfitted on these machines as well, but, as with anything that slices and dices, common sense still needs to prevail when operating these powerful machines. Safety instructions are prominently displayed at various points on the machine. “We actually designed these machines so that any individual could walk up to them, with no verbal instructions, and pretty much move ahead with the project,” Noah remarked. “A complete set of instructions are placed in every toolbox.”
The Dyna SC-16 firewood processor is their flagship model, and has been carefully designed for full-time, high-production operations. Hydraulics drive the live deck, clamp, saw, splitter, and trough chain. A standard 49 HP Cat diesel engine and 5”x30” cylinder enables the operator to process up to four cords per hour. The SC-16 is capable of handling 16” rated logs (diameter) with 22” max. Sixteen-foot logs (length) can easily be placed on the deck.
The Dyna SC-15 model combines the industrial-size, high-output SC-16 frame and log capacity with the SC-14’s versatile hydraulic componentry. The SC-15 can produce three cords per hour and is powered by a 38 HP EFI Kohler gas engine (standard) with a 40 HPTier 4 Cat diesel option.
Innovation is a constant here at Dyna Products, according to Noah. “It is a constant source of innovation for us, based on our customers’ feedback. What that means is that we can introduce yearly models that are different from the previous year’s model.” Nathan concurs. “That is actually something that we have begun to integrate into our designing process.”
“It is very exciting when you have a customer come back—and this has happened to me a couple of times—when he looks at the machine and says, you listened to me. A year ago, I suggested this and this, and now, a year later, your machine has what I asked for. It makes them very passionate about renting with us when they see that we take their suggestions seriously,” Noah explained.
Throughout our conversation, the experts at Dyna Products explained why firewood is such a popular choice of heating homes, garages, and shops. “Firewood never goes away,” Nathan remarked. “It is largely even on pricing; it doesn’t fluctuate like gas or oil. Especially with the advent of outdoor boilers, which are becoming increasingly popular, splitting firewood with the newer designs where you have EPA regulations, you need to split the wood to get the optimal performance. And so, splitting firewood has just reached a new level within the last few years. It is going to ride that whole idea of using outdoor boilers to heat your house, garage, etc.”
According to trends throughout the past years, Nathan expressed that he believes the use of firewood may have doubled within the past ten years. And no wonder, especially since the firewood processors from Dyna Products can dramatically split the time spent cutting firewood. For example, renting one of these capable machines allows you to give your old chainsaw a rest. Understandably, operating these machines are also considerably safer for older folks to operate than trying to wrangle a contentious chainsaw.
Interested individuals typically pick up these rental units from their nearest rental facility. Most units can be towed with half-ton pickup trucks. Upon arrival at your property, set up generally takes around ten minutes. “We have a lot of people who have rented from us a couple of times, but then they might decide that they would rather own a machine, because they don’t want to be delegated to only operating the machine on certain weekends,” Louie remarked. “They might want to cut two hours one day, and then several more hours next month. So, these customers might say, ‘Hey, you guys are renting these machines out, there is no reason I couldn’t.’ Such customers might make a decision to purchase a machine based on their rental opportunities. They might use the machine themselves, and then also rent to neighbors, etc., on the side. It is a good sideline business that creates revenue for them. We see more and more people doing this.”
By focusing on creating an exceptional machine, Dyna Products has been successful in minimizing ‘distress’ calls from customers while operating their rental units. “If we design a superior product that works like it should every time, it greatly minimizes calls from rental customers,” according to the owners at Dyna Products.
For those interested in renting a machine from Dyna Products, please call the number at the conclusion of this article (also see adjacent advertisement). Upon calling their headquarters, a representative at Dyna Products will connect you to the nearest rental facility in your area.
Another option that some individuals may consider is Dyna Products’ leasing program. “This program is a great option for those in the thick of the firewood business but do not prefer the hassle of purchasing and owning a machine. With a customizable contract to fit your needs you’ll receive a Dyna firewood processor to cut your wood. Monthly rental payments would be made with no interest rates or banks and loans to work with. You won’t have to worry about depreciation, and rental costs are tax deductible. At the end of the contract, if you decide to continue, Dyna will write a new contract and you will receive a new machine. If the market goes south, no problem. At the end of the contract the machine goes back to Dyna and you’re not stuck with a used machine to sell. Dyna will even keep you in sharp chains as long as you cover the shipping,” Noah explained.
Production of these machines has ramped up recently, and approximately thirty employees assist in the manufacturing of these firewood processors at the Dyna Products facilities located in Millington, Michigan. “We have a main shop where we run one shift there, and a paint shop where we run double shifts, day and night,” Louie explained.
Creating a product and an environment that is attractive to their customers has been the intention of Dyna Products from the very start. “Bringing value to our customers is what we aim for, whether that is through our products or our support after the sale,” remarks Louie. “We work with our customers so they can utilize these machines more effectively.” Nathan adds,” We try to make each customer feel as if they are a part of the Dyna family.”
Researched, written, and edited by Leroy Martin for the exclusive use of the Plain Communities Business Exchange, LLC
With permission from Plain Communities Business Exchange | | PO Box 520 | Millersburg PA 17061.
PDF of PCBE article November 2019 pg 88-90