Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Forest Resource Management

Committee Chair

Jingxin Wang


A mail survey was conducted in the fall of 2010 to investigate the profitability aspects of the Appalachian hardwood sawmills. Specifically, the survey focused on changes in production, employment, marketing, export and energy efficiency practices between 2008 and 2010. The majority of the respondents used circle-saw headrigs (57%) and the remaining (43%) used bandsaw headrigs. The results indicated that employees in the Appalachian region had decreased by 28.88 percent while production decreased by 26 percent. Among responding sawmills, the number of employees decreased significantly since the economic downturn (p=0.0267) although four survey respondents reported hiring new employees. The most employment opportunities were lost in companies that had been in business either for a short or medium time period (less than fifty years). Meanwhile, yearly operating hours decreased by 9 percent per mill. The changes in the annual operating hours were significantly different among the surveyed sawmills (p=0.0005). Statistical analysis results indicated that the number of employees was significantly different among states, production levels, interactions between state and production level and years in business. Likewise, the interactions between state and production level and between production level and years in business also significantly affected the weekly production. During the downturn employees decreased from 42 to 30 per mill, annual operating hours decreased from 2,336 to 2,132 hours, and weekly lumber production decreased from 196,792 to 145,610 thousand board feet (MBF) per week per mill. In 2010, log inventory at sawmills averaged 6 weeks. Sixty-four percent of the respondents stated that their log inventory decreased, 28 percent of the surveyed sawmills kept the same inventory level, and the rest increased log inventory. The average chips and sawdust production in 2010 was 257 and 152 tons per week, respectively, in sawmills of high production level, while the numbers changed to 91 and 55 tons per week in medium production level sawmills, and 48 and 18 tons per week, respectively, in low production level sawmills. Wood residue was most commonly used for animal bedding & litter (37%), followed by boiler fuel, and pulp & paper. Oak was the highest profit species, which accounted for 38.1 percent of the surveyed, sawmills, followed by hard maple (19%), ash (17%), and walnut (14%). Yellow-poplar was the lowest profit species (36%), followed by cherry (26%) and soft maple (17%). Sixty-six percent of sawmills responded that they have made marketing changes since the economic downturn, while forty-six percent of the respondents exported products in 2010.;The energy consumption and energy efficiency were also examined for Appalachian hardwood sawmills using a mail survey and onsite energy audits. Only 19 percent of the respondents planned on making energy efficient upgrades in 2010. About 38, 45, and 17 percent of the respondents ran electric motors at 80-90 percent, 91-94 percent, and 95 percent or more efficiency, respectively. About 40 and 50 percent of the responding sawmills used conventional air compressors and high efficiency screw-drive air compressors, respectively. The other 10 percent of the respondents used both types of air compressors. The electrical consumption per week per mill in 2010 averaged 107,007 kWh with an average bill of {dollar}9,278 per month while the average natural gas consumption was 1,125 thousand cubic feet (MCF) per month per mill with an average bill of {dollar}5,703. A dry kiln owner own 5 dry kilns in average with an average capacity of 4,521 MBF per year per mill. The electricity per month per mill used for kilns was 64,125 kWh with an average electricity bill of {dollar}5,560. Energy audits of 17 sawmills in West Virginia indicated that the average electric consumption of lumber production was 161 kWh/MBF and the marginal cost averaged {dollar}17.87/MMBtu (¢6.10/kWh). The average processing cost was {dollar}10.04/MBF ranging from {dollar}0.81/MBF to {dollar}22.01/MBF. The average energy savings could be 916 MMBtu or 275,110 kWh per mill while the average carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 587,045 lbs per month per mill. Implementation cost for assessment recommendations at sawmills ranged from {dollar}0 to {dollar}100,000 with an average of {dollar}18,633.Average energy savings per year could be up to 15 percent through the implementation of the recommended changes.