Chris Browne in Canada to train new Peterson Sawmill owners

I’m Chris Browne, Sawmill Expert, Factory Manager, and husband of CEO Kerris Browne here at Peterson Portable Sawmills. My name has been mentioned in this blog a lot in the past, so I’ve decided to hijack it!

I’ve just got back from a work trip to Canada in June, where I met Peterson sawmill owners, and provided training for new owners of our Automated Swingblade Mill. As you may know, we offer one-on-one sawmill training at our factory for all new owners, because we want to ensure you know how to make best use of Peterson swingblade technology.

Peterson Portable Sawmills at Stand O16, SawTechLogExpo, Renfrew, Ontario.
Peterson Portable Sawmills at Stand O16, SawTechLogExpo, Renfrew, Ontario.

Training at our factory headquarters isn’t possible for all new Peterson Sawmill owners as we’re based in Rotorua, New Zealand. I’m often the one who is sent overseas, which I don’t mind because I get to sample the local beers! Where possible, one of our Peterson Owners Network operators in South Africa, England, Ireland, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Canada or the USA may conduct the training for us. Either way, you can be assured of quality one-on-one training to get the most out of your new Peterson Sawmill.

Earl Schuk, based in British Columbia, prompted us to start plans for a Canada training trip when he purchased his ASM (Automated Swingblade Mill) in February 2017. Shortly after, Steve Andreef also a BC resident, ordered an ASM as well.

With these training requirements and the Peterson team having already identified the 2017 Saw Tech Log Expo in Renfrew, Ontario as an opportunity to showcase the Peterson range, the wife sent me packing!

First stop was Williams Lake, British Columbia, where I stayed at the Training School run by Toosey First Nation Band, and spent a day with the instructor and trainees on their new-this-year Sawmill and Timber Yard course. Their Winch Production Frame is predominantly used for custom-sawing large beams and dimensional timber, and also to make timber for the shed which now houses their WPF.

Earl Schuk already had a bandsaw for his milling-to-order business. He purchased the ASM to increase his production. We went through his order list together and over the three days of training, we fulfilled all the current orders for beams and dimensional lumber, while training Earl as well as his son and grandson to operate the ASM. The swingmill has changed his production methods : Now he has three competent operators for the ASM, and reckons he’ll never use the bandsaw again!

I then visited Steven Andreef, whose engineer friend Pete, was keen to check out the mechanics and performance of the swingblade. Pete hung around most of the day, in awe of the speed of the ASM compared to a bandsaw.  During the training session, Steve cut some 10×10 posts for Pete. I expect that Pete’ll be back with more work for Steve, now he’s had the benefit of seeing what the Peterson mill can do.

New Peterson Sawmill owner, Steve Andreef’s, Automated Swingblade Mill setup

One of the advantages of combining training with a demonstration session is that visitors see the capability of the mill, and they bring work to the new owner.  No additional advertising is needed.  I enjoy being part of the training and marketing package for new Peterson sawmill owners. I want Peterson owners to know exactly what they can achieve with their swingblade sawmill.

Dennis McGlynn, the final trainee owner-operator on my tour, had already owned his mill for several months. He’d taught himself how to use the mill through the DVD training, operator manuals and few phone calls to New Zealand when he got stuck. I was able to demonstrate and coach him in more efficient and effective ways to set up the logs for double-cutting, how to load his logs, and to pre-cut on the swingblade before switching to the slabber accessory for live-edge slabs.

I admired his tenacity for independent learning, and was grateful that he was also open to learning from my experience. I believe it’s much easier to learn when you can put the tips into practice immediately. After two weeks of one-on-one training sessions, I was ready for a change of pace, and it came in the form of the Saw Tech Log Expo, in Renfrew, Ontario.

Peter Throop, a long-time friend of Petersons and based in Ontario, offered to take his Winch Production Frame mill – and his extended family – to the Saw Tech Log Expo. At one stage we had nine members of the Throop family at the expo: operating the mill, recording visitors, tailing-out, stacking boards and timing mill performance rates for single boards and single logs. I really appreciated the Throop’s company and assistance during my stay at their home in Pembroke and during the three days of the expo.

Visitors to our site included Peterson sawmill owners Gary Jansen (WPF), Robin Pellett (WPF), and recent trainee Dennis McGlynn. The two Winch Production Frame owners were happy to talk about their Peterson mills to our visitors, and I heard Gary laugh when someone in the crowd asked about getting parts for the mills, “Parts? You don’t NEED parts. I’ve had my mill for 11 years and the only thing I’ve needed from Peterson’s was new rollers and a couple of bearings.” It’s great to have actual Peterson owners coming to a Trade Show to chat with potential mill owners and share their experiences.

Now I’m back in New Zealand, and straight to work at the factory!

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