In a precedent setting decision, regional directors decided to partner with a private business in Princeton and a non-profit group to apply for $300,000 in grant funding that if successful could revolutionize the firewood business.
Paul Patton, general manager of SBC Firemaster Ltd., explained the longstanding firewood company is looking to become more efficient on the packaging side of the business and that includes creating innovative technology.
“Vision systems will be able to take a look at a piece of firewood at an angle and make the decision that it fits best here and the next one will fit better there. This will increase accuracy and efficiency,” he said.
He said this kind of technology is not being used by any other firewood companies and would need to be designed from scratch.
Firemaster partnered with FP Innovations to apply for a $300,000 grant in the last round of Rural Dividend Initiative funding. The application was not successful. If successful this round, Firemaster would put in $200,000 of its own money for the project along with the $300,000 grant money.
Bill Newell, CAO of the RDOS, said the board’s role would simply be to file the application.
Following the meeting, Patton said it’s unclear who would own the technology.
“That’s something to let the lawyers decide after,” he said.
He noted the goal of the technology is to grow the company and its share in the firewood market in North America.
“We’re definitely not looking to downsize employees. We’re looking to add to the number and employ people with very specialized skills,” he said.
FP Innovations is a non-profit organization that specializes in creating innovative technology for companies in the forrest sector.
Firemaster is considered North America’s largest producer of firewood and ships the bagged product all over the U.S. and western Canada.
Patton said at this point there are 50 full-time employees at Firemaster and those workers process 10,000 bundles of firewood every day.