A leading North Wales timber company has invested £100,000 in branching out into a new ‘green’ business turning by-products from its main operations into fuels.
Ruthin-based Clifford Jones Timber has also taken on four new staff to help run Hunter’s Fuels, the newly-formed company which aims to sell thousands of kilos of kiln-dried logs, kindling, brickettes and firelighters across the UK.
Josh Sambrook-Jones, Area Sales Manager with Clifford Jones, who has masterminded the development of the new brand, says it’s another natural step in the growth of the family business which was founded by his great-grandfather in 1948.
Hunter’s Fuels has developed from the company’s ‘green’ ethos to make the best possible use of its by-products.
Josh, the son of Clifford Jones Timber Chairman Richard Jones and the fourth generation of his family to work for the company, said: “Our main business is the supply of fencing posts. As we only use the highest quality timber to produce them any logs which don’t make the grade will now be turned into logs and kindling.
“Our production process also leaves us with about 44,000 tonnes of 100 per cent virgin sawdust a year and this will be converted into fuel brickettes.
“Hunter’s Fuels will have its official launch later this year and we estimate that in the first year we’ll be selling 50,000 kilos of briquettes along with 15,000 kilos of kindling and 12,000 kilos of logs.
Josh explained that Clifford Jones had made a substantial investment of £100,000 in the development of Hunter’s Fuels and has already taken on four extra people, all of them local, to work for it.
He said: “The investment has been spent on a new production facility at our Ruthin headquarters, including new log and kindling lines.
“All the logs will be kiln dried on site because when dried in this way they burn a lot more easily and produce more heat when burnt.
“The process is much quicker than seasoning logs which can take 12 months before they are ready to burn.
“This way we can take a tree down on Monday, machine it, bag it and then have it on sale the following Monday.
“Hunter’s Fuels will be sold right across the UK, including Northern Ireland and through Hunter Wilson in Dumfries, Scotland, which is part of our group.
“We see the market as being mainly domestic but we’ll also be selling to campsites and other places such as pizzerias for use in their ovens.
“In the past to give that smoky taste to pizzas they’ve used seasoned logs in their ovens but we’re now seeing a trend towards dried logs and briquettes such as the ones we’ll supply.
“Uses like this will mean we won’t just be selling into the traditional winter market but will be supplying customers the whole year round.”
Josh added: “As with everything we do at Clifford Jones, there’s a strong green element to our operations at Hunter’s Fuels, in terms of the logs and sawdust we’ll be using from the fencing post production process and also our on-site kilns which are powered by sawdust. This all makes it a completely renewable operation.
“Although we’ve yet to have our official launch, Hunter’s Fuels is already an active business. We’re putting together our client base for the winter rush and also building up our stocks.
“Everyone involved is massively excited about it because it’s another very important step for us. As a long-established family business we’re always looking for ways in which we can grow.”
Richard Jones added: “It is a continuation of our policy of diversification and sustainability.
“We look to make the most out of the 100,000 tons of timber that comes through our gates every year and we’re always looking to add value so that even the residues we produce in making over two million fence posts a year generate an income.
“Everything is used. That’s part of our culture that includes using sustainable timber from Welsh and Scottish FSC-certified forests and we aim to make the most of it because it makes good business sense and it makes sense for the planet as well.”
As well as fence posts and the new Hunter’s Fuels products, Clifford Jones Timber also produce gates and garden furniture and send almost 4,000 tons of residue a month for biomass pellets.
They ship their fence posts as far afield as the Falkland Islands while other clients for their timber products have included Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Garden programme on ITV, Center Parcs, a luxury treehouse builder, award-winning vineyards and a deck-chair company.