By Jared Janzen
BURRTON—Like most 16-year-old boys, Stone Ducimetiere of Burrton loves to drive and is looking forward to owning his first car. To achieve that goal, he started a one-of-a-kind business of cutting and selling scrap wood.
Stone first started cutting firewood at age 14 because his parents have a rule that their kids must have $1,000 in their bank account before they can drive.
“We had two or three people that would regularly get it to heat their house over the winter and then it would die down over the summer,” Stone said.
For those first two seasons, he was cutting thousands of pieces of wood with nothing but a handsaw.
“It sucked,” he said. “I think I built a lot of muscle, though.”
He purchased a miter saw in January, and since then, his business has quickly expanded as he started getting customers who wanted wood for crafting.
“We found out that most of this wood that we were cutting up had a lot more value than firewood,” Stone’s mother, Missy, said. She helps Stone with the business side and marketing, while he does most of the manual labor. They now call the business Stone’s Sticks.
The Ducimetieres partner with local companies to reclaim scrap pieces or wood that was rejected because of flaws. They get their wood at no cost, which means they can keep prices low for their customers. She doesn’t know of any other business in Kansas that does what they do.
The Ducimetieres receive a trailer full of about 2,000 pounds of wood every three weeks. They sort out what they want to sell for crafting versus firewood and then Stone gets to work cutting it down to size.
The boards they get are usually around 15 feet long, anywhere from 1-7 inches wide and 1/8 to 4 inches deep.
“Stone takes those boards and rips them down to sticks and people use them to make cutting boards and signs,” Missy said. They’ve also sold pieces that were turned into tool handles, surveyor stakes and fences.
Among the woods they sell are red oak, white oak, maple, walnut, beech, hickory, mahogany, cedar, pine, poplar and alder. Stone has learned to identify different woods by their appearance, weight and smell.
They’ve had customers come from as far as Kansas City or southwest Kansas and Missy added that they have a lot of repeat customers.
“We sell this at a wholesale price so crafters can make money and a crafter can come in and buy two feet versus an 8-foot board,” Missy said. “They literally can look at our stack and say, ‘I want a foot off of that board.’”
Missy enjoys when their clients send photos of what they made out of the wood, but she admitted she’s not a crafter herself.
“I can’t even hang a picture on the wall—it’s terrible,” she said. “I love that these people can create all this stuff.”
Missy said she’d never used a saw before January, but the local business owner that supplies their wood mentored them on how to use the equipment. Stone’s dad, Jon, and his siblings also pitch in and help sometimes.
For his first two years, Stone was cutting and storing his wood at the parking lot of Burrton Community Church and Missy noted Pastor Stuart Pederson has been a huge supporter of the business. Over the summer, the family bought a shed for their backyard that he can now use as a workshop. He’s purchased several more saws, as well, and would like to get a lathe, so he can make his own pool cue.
Last Friday, Missy noted their supply was the lowest it had ever been because they’d just had a couple large orders. Even so, shelves were filled with wood.
Any scrapes that they can’t sell for crafting purposes are bundled together and sold as firewood. She takes satisfaction knowing they’re keeping this wood out of the dump.
“We try to have no waste, if at all possible,” Missy said. “That’s the whole point of this.”
They sell bundles of firewood at Harvey County West Park, Back Porch Liquor in Canton and Paradise Liquor in Burrton. They also went to the Haven Farmer’s Market this past summer and plan to do more, next summer.
Stone said he didn’t have a favorite part of the business, but he did say he likes getting paid. Once he can keep $1,000 in his bank account, Stone would like to purchase a manual car or truck.
“My dream car is a 1969 SS Camaro with a five-speed transmission,” he said.
Missy said once Stone goes to college in a couple years, she’s considering hiring help to keep the business going. He’s currently a sophomore in Lawrence Virtual School, which gives him flexibility to work in his wood business.
Stone’s Sticks is open by appointment by contacting 620-931-8679 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have monthly yard sales of their inventory. For more information, follow Stone’s Sticks on Facebook.
They haven’t started doing online orders or shipping product yet, but Missy said that’s their next goal.
“We’re at where we’re at,” Missy said. “We either have to advance on the Internet, advance to contractors on specific items, or stay happy where we’re at, because we’ve plateaued.”