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Dairy Farm Also Runs Profitable Wood Products Business
In 1947, Wisconsin dairy farmer Carl Nelson started hauling sawdust in his small pickup from a cabinet maker to local farmers. The income was a good supplement to his farm operation. Flash forward to 2016, and that same business is still going strong at the same farm, although operations have expanded dramatically.
  Zach Schauf, great grandson of Carl Nelson, now manages the wood products business, called Indianhead Renewable Forest Products. The operation produces wood shavings and other products for about 100 bulk-sale customers in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s located on the Schauf family farm, which has a milking herd of 80 to 90 dairy cattle, about 800 tillable acres and 200 acres of woodland. Zach’s parents Karyn and Bob oversee that business.
  Schauf says Indianhead handles about 4,000 truck loads of wood products in and out of their facility each year. About 80 percent of their business is producing shavings used by dairy and poultry producers. They also supply wood products for bio-fuels, landscaping and have a portable grinder.
  Schauf says “Our operation has a special bond with its farmer customers because our family has its own dairy herd and we know what people want and can use.” Shavings are available in different sizes and can be made from different wood species.  
  The shavings plant has a 650 hp horizontal grinder, a tub grinder, a hammermill that produces small wood flakes, and a planer that handles cordwood. A drying system is fueled by wood fines from the processing operation. Shavings are dried down to about 7 percent moisture and stored in a large moisture-free warehouse.
  Schauf took an interest in the wood products business when he was very young. At age 12 he started bagging shavings for farmers showing livestock at fairs. He paid neighbor kids to help him, and when he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a business degree, he joined the business. Knowing Zach and his wife Brooke would be the next generation to carry on the business, the family invested in a state-of-the-art shavings plant that offered more flexibility and more capacity.
   “Our plant uses mostly poplar and pine, but we also have access to basswood, soft maple and birch. Some of the wood we harvest ourselves, but most is supplied by about 20 local vendors,” Schauf says.
  Indianhead has never had to advertise. Schauf says his parents, grandparents and great grandfather always found new customers through referrals, and the company still does that today. “People call us and we produce and deliver what they want,” Schauf says.
  Another key to their business success is having 22 employees who know what they’re doing and take pride in their work. Some have more than 16 years of tenure and most can work at the dairy, in the farming operation, or in the wood business. “It’s never boring around here. There’s always plenty to do and our people aren’t afraid to put forth extra effort,” Schauf says.
  Even though some of their smaller dairy customers have gone by the wayside in recent years, Indianhead still does business with big dairies that use shavings for calves and young stock. The company also provides mulch and wood chips for landscaping and sells chips to schools and power plants who use it for fuel.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Zach Schauf, Indianhead Renewable Forest Products, 1659 10 1/2 St., Barron, Wis. 54812 (ph 612 308-0382; ZachSchauf@gmail.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #5