By: Benjamin J. Gohs, Associate Editor
After nearly three years of planning and preparing for their new business Kirtland Products of Boyne City is about to open. The wooden pellet fuel manufacturer, located in Boyne’s Air Industrial Drive, could be producing tons of product by Oct. 1.[private]
“We’re probably about three weeks away from being able to launch production,” said Kirtland CEO Leon Tupper.
A mixture of hard and soft woods including oak and pine, Kirtland’s wood pellets can be used by pellet type stove owners to heat their homes at a much higher efficiency than traditional log-burning wood stoves. “Most trees are anywhere between 48 and 55 percent water,” Tupper said. “The pelletization process removes moisture and compacts the wood in a dense form that provides for a very robust BTU.” He added, “And, the process does not require or call for any additives other than possibly water. No non-natural ingredients are added to the process.”
Tupper and his partners Thomas Monley and Michael Lange started this business to fill a perceived need for pellet fuel in the area, but it was steel, not wood, in which Tupper got his start in Boyne City. “It germinated from an idea of partners in Arete (ahr-tay) Industries,” Tupper said. “Back in 2008, when the economic impacts to our Arete automotive supplier was at the lowest level in history, we began thinking about our go-forth position and we ultimately, after some research, decided there appeared to be and still appears to be opportunities in renewable energy field.”
He added, “It certainly is a departure from gentleman who spent most of their work lives in the auto industry, but we thought we could make it happen.”
According to Tupper, Kirtland’s financing has been in place since January, and his staff has been working “around the clock” to be ready for the 2011-2012 heating season. “We’re pretty confident we will be operating by Oct. 1, and in position to serve our new customers,” he said. “We will have a store at our facilities in Air Industrial Park.”
The wood will be trucked from sawmills throughout the region to Kirtland where it will be broken into smaller pieces, dehydrated, broken down further and mixed with a controlled dose of water before being turned into pellets which are later available in 40 pound bags for sale in 1-ton quantities. “The performance characteristics of pellets will be in compliance with standards established for premium grade pellets in terms of ash, dimensional size, and density as well as caloric values,” Tupper said.
Kirtland is located at 1 Altair Drive on in Boyne City.
The 66,000-square-foot Kirtland facility resides on 10 acres along with Arete Industries.
Kirtland will, initially, employ between 15 and 20 people.
It can be reached by calling (231) 582-7505 or go to www.kirtlandproducts.com for more information.[/private]