August 6, 2003 | By: Haven Miller

When Dan Reeder started Northern Kentucky Red Cedar in 1991 the business was a small lumber mill for locally-grown aromatic red cedar. The business began to grow, and as Reeder added more employees and machinery he felt the need for some outside support.

“We basically started from the log woods and kind of wanted to move on into the next part of it which is secondary processing,” he said.  “We bought a couple of pieces of equipment and really didn’t know what to do to make the investment start working for us.”

John Cotton with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture told Reeder he should contact Bobby Ammerman, an Extension associate with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s department of forestry.  In conjunction with UK’s Wood Utilization Center near Jackson, Ammerman offers training to companies that process or manufacture secondary wood products.

“I gave him some opinions and advice on equipment, and then with the training programs we have at the Wood Center we trained Dan and some of his employees to help them get started,” said Ammerman.

After the training Reeder bought a new wood moulder and expanded further.  He now has 10 employees producing aromatic red cedar squares and hangers for drawers and closets.  He’s shipping to several countries, including Germany and Canada.

“This is a unique enterprise,” said Ammerman. “Dan is taking these trees that are mostly coming off farmlands and he’s converting them into a marketable product.”

Reeder and his company are among several Kentucky wood businesses that are capitalizing on the training and other services offered free or at minimal cost by UK’s Wood Utilization Center. 

“We work with businesses that are just an idea all the way up to businesses of three- or four-hundred employees, “ said Carroll Fackler, wood utilization center superintendent. “We have the personnel and expertise to work with established companies, new start-ups, or family-owned businesses who want to vertically integrate.”

The wood center’s location in Breathitt County has made it convenient for clients in the central and eastern parts of the state.

“We only had a three-hour drive to Jackson, compared to a 12-hour drive to the next closest place we could take similar training, so it saved us money in terms of being close to home and having a minimum amount of down time,” said Kevin Pierce, moulder operator with Quality Woodworks of Somerset, Ky.   Pierce said the small class size and ability to get questions fully answered made the training ideal for his company’s needs.

For information on training opportunities at UK’s Wood Utilization Center – including the August 21 workshop on operating a surfacer with a spiral helix cutter head – contact Carroll Fackler, 606-666-2438, ext. 235, or Bobby Ammerman at ext. 256.


Sources: Carroll Fackler, 606-666-2438, ext. 235; Bobby Ammerman, 606-666-2438, ext. 256.