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Ossipee Company Has its Roots in Nearby Forest
 
Published Monday, April 10, 2017
by JOSEPH RILEY

Producing kiln-dried firewood and kindling wood, Ossipee Mountain Land Company in West Ossipee has its roots deep into the forests around it. Removing low-grade wood from the forest and turning it into a useful product, President Jeffrey Coombs, left, says the 30-year-old company has amassed annual sales of more than 1 million packages of firewood and 250,000 bundles of kindling.

Low-grade wood comes from small and low-grade trees that clog the forest and have imperfections that would affect production quality. This low-grade wood is turned into firewood, though not just any firewood. Coombs lovingly refers to it as “mood wood” that isn’t necessarily used to heat an entire home, but to heat one room and provide a fire for “ambience and atmosphere.”

“A lot of places can’t store wood; they have fireplaces, but they can’t stack up five cords outside their house,” says Coombs. “So they stop off at the grocery store on their way home, buy two or three packages; it’s cheaper than a ticket to the movies.”

Ossipee Mountain Land Company’s firewood can be found throughout most of New England. It is sold in Hannaford, Market Basket, Whole Foods, Shaw’s, campgrounds and in gas stations and hardware stores including Cumberland Farms and Aubuchon Hardware. Bundles of firewood cost $5.99 to $6.99.

The wood is not only local, but also sustainable, Coombs says. The company owns and manages 15,000 acres of forestland in Northern NH and has 30 employees. Removing the trees producing low-grade wood allows higher quality trees to flourish and grow. By promoting the growth of new stronger trees, Ossipee Mountain Land Company is able to sustain the forest for the future.  

Even after wood is harvested, sustainability continues. No part of the tree goes to waste. Woodchips that normally could not be sold are used to heat the boilers that run the company’s kilns.

Sawdust and other wood chips are sent to the local power plant. Small twigs and splinters of woods are sold as kindling to get a fire going before larger pieces of firewood are added. “We can cut a tree on Monday, and it can be in the store for Friday night,” says Coombs.

And with the past winter arriving in full force, demand for wood increased during the season. The company has experienced steady sales growth of about 5 percent most years, which is Coombs’ target for this year.

The company has diversified into maple syrup. While Coombs has tapped trees for 25 years, he has ramped up and now taps several thousand trees to sell gallons of maple syrup.

To learn more, visit ossipeemountainlandcompany.com.

By Joseph Riley of the Young Reporter’s Project, a partnership between Business NH Magazine and University of NH Manchester.


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