Wood Business

Features Sawmilling
A capital idea: Capital Timber expands

From tree service company to customized timber producer

July 6, 2023  By  Andrew Snook

The company specializes in custom-cut lumber, with plans to increase their product offerings. Photos by Jeff Clifford, courtesy of Jeff Clifford Photography.

No matter what products and services you’re offering, sustainability needs to be a part of your operations these days. This is especially true when you’re involved in the forestry sector, whether as a supplier of logs or a manufacturer of wood products, or in the case of Andrew and Greg Clifford, a full-service tree care business (and more).

Based in Carp, Ont., Capital Timber Co. started up in 2013 when Andrew decided to open up a tree clearing service for the Ottawa Region. A few years later his brother, Greg, was enrolled at Algonquin College’s furniture and cabinet-making program, and started re-purposing the trees his brother was removing for residential and commercial clients.

“I started with a chainsaw mill and was cutting any leftover logs from Andy’s job sites and selling them as slabs,” Greg recalls. “We bought a bandsaw mill in 2017, then I was doing portable milling for people. I would go to their properties with the mill and saw the logs on their property.”

As Andrew removed trees from clients’ properties, he would let them know about Greg’s milling business, and the business slowly picked up.


“People are tuning into the fact they can re-use their trees,” Andrew says.

As customers showed interest in having their trees re-purposed, the two brothers started searching out clients that wanted to repurpose their trees rather than trying to sell slabs to other customers. A few years ago, the two brothers set up their headquarters in Carp and merged the tree removal and wood processing operations in one location.

“If we’re removing someone’s tree on their property, we usually let them know about our services, that we can also saw the trees into lumber if they want something out of it. It’s definitely becoming more popular,” Greg says.

While clearing larger properties, there are a lot of opportunities to salvage the trees and turn them into useable wood products, he says.

“When someone is clearing a property to put up a new building, we’ll come in and clear it for them. And then we’ll work with them to salvage the logs and process them into something that they can use for the new building on the property. In Calabogie, we took down a bunch of oak trees and turned them into flooring for a client,” Greg says.

Another interesting project the Clifford brothers have worked on is clearing a lot to make way for a forestry school for children. 

“It was a few acres, primarily pine trees. We took the trees, processed them all into their requested dimensions, and now they’re getting siding made for the school – over 3,000 square feet of siding,” Greg says. “They have some other wood as well that they’re going to be using for furniture for the building.”

To be able to process larger amounts of logs more efficiently, the brothers recently invested in an upgraded mill, a Wood-Mizer LT40 hydraulic portable sawmill.

They also built a small kiln on their property in 2019 using a Wood-Mizer KD250 dehumidification wood kiln, a shipping container, and a rail conveying system for unloading and loading the wood.

“It’s primarily for our stuff at the moment, like our own lumber that we’re selling, but we rent out the kiln space if people want us to dry something,” Greg says.

Building their own kiln for the first time required some trial and error. 

“Everywhere online had said that the climate is going to dictate how you operate your kiln, how your insulation is going to operate and dictate how you operate,” Greg says. “One thing that we did need to change is the plastic PVC piping, which couldn’t sustain the heat… there’s stuff like that you don’t know until you until you try it.”

Growing pains

(L-R) Andrew and Greg Clifford recently invested in a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill.

Building this business up has come with its own set of challenges for the brothers. 

“There are a lot of upfront costs. The sawmill was expensive, and the trucks and the fuel,” Greg says. 

“Employees are hard to find as well,” Andrew adds. “It’s hard to find people that do all aspects of tree removal work.”

Selling the wood products can also be a challenge for the small company.

“It’s not like it just flies off the shelves,” Greg says, adding that clients sometimes want to haggle over price because they are taking the trees away. 

“People think they’re going to get a good price on their tree because we can sell the wood, but there’s a lot involved between us taking it off your property and turning it into a useful piece of wood. And then you’ve got to process it. You’ve got to dry it. You’ve got it all these costs added to it. We like to have customers that want us to do it for them. That way we already have a buyer,” Greg says. “Otherwise, if we remove a tree from someone’s property and we bring it back to the shop, then we cut it, air dry or kiln dry it, and sell it. It’s a big-time investment.”

Expansion plans

Building a business has come with its own set of challenges for the Clifford brothers.

A large amount of their wood products currently being produced is being resold to a combination of woodworking businesses and hobbyists, but Greg and Andrew have plans to expand their company to take on larger projects and increase their product offerings to include more customized timbers specifically designed for contractors working on projects throughout the Ottawa Region.

“I think that a big part for us is hopefully shifting towards the clients having their trees processed, whether it’s a single tree or it’s a whole bunch of them they had to get removed because they’re putting up a new house or building,” Greg says. “We did a job recently not far from here and the guy cleared three acres of trees. Most of them couldn’t be salvaged for much, but those that we could save, he was adamant on saving. And then when the time comes, he’s going to bring the trees to our sawmill.”

Greg and Andrew really like that their business is contributing to a more sustainable way to remove trees.

“Ideally, we’d be able to utilize everything. We would use all the off-cuts from our sawmill,” Greg says. “We have some people that will come by and they’ll use it for firewood. One guy comes by that makes maple syrup, so he needs to burn a ton of wood. He’ll come and pick stuff up regularly. There’s some money, or at least some use, out of everything. Even the mulch that we chip, it’s not really being used for much, but the people that want it actually need it for a purpose. Whether it’s to fill in a wet part of their property or make trails.”

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