Every year, Kurt Lindeland hits the road the week before Christmas to deliver chocolates to all the loyal customers he’s had over the years.
“It’s just what you do when you run a family business,” Kurt says. “From the smallest customer to the largest one, we remember who keeps us in business.”
And they’ve definitely kept Kurt in business. Since becoming part-owner of Connecticut Mulch 13 years ago, Kurt has seen the business nearly quadruple in size. His company grinds bark, turning it into mulch that can be used in playgrounds, landscaping and more.
In the peak of spring, Kurt says he has 175 trucks in and out of their yard on any given day. The company is on pace to haul ½ million yards a year.
BUILDING FROM THE GROUND UP
Kurt’s father and mother, Kenny and Linda Lindeland, started the business 43 years ago. A computer programmer at the time, Kenny grew weary of spending hour upon hour in an office staring at a screen.
“He’s always been an entrepreneur at heart,” Kurt says.
Kenny loved to be outdoors and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, which made the mulch business a natural fit. He learned to do it all, grinding the bark into mulch and then shipping it throughout the Northeastern United States.
After Kurt grew up, he moved away from the family business and spent close to 10 years in shipping and production before he returned home.
“We have this running joke, my dad and I,” Kurt says, chuckling. “He says he asked me to come in. I say that I wanted to come in. We agree to disagree.”
TAKING A RISK
About seven years ago, Kurt and his parents had an idea to start providing the chips used in the paper manufacturing business. By creating this second company, Kurt and his family could venture into the paper products industry, a huge risk at a time when most paper companies were failing.
“When we built the second company, people thought we were crazy,” Kurt says.
Today, Connecticut Forest Products is thriving in the paper products industry, despite the worldwide decline. Kurt purchases sustainably-harvested timber, brings the low-grade logs to his mill and produces chips that can be used by paper manufacturers. The bark is also used by Connecticut Mulch to create mulch.
“This wood used to be left in the woods by loggers to rot,” Kurt says. “Now it’s being used to create products and provide jobs. It’s good for the health of the forest and the community.”
Kurt’s drivers and subcontractors haul the wood chips produced by Connecticut Forest Products all along the mid-atlantic states…and beyond.
Kurt visited one of his largest customers recently, a billion dollar paper company. He learned that his products have been used in nearly any household item, from sock drawers to the labels on prescription bottles.
“I realized that myself and everyone who works for us had a hand in that,” Kurt says. “All of those household items come in part from this small family business in Connecticut.”
LESS TIME ON THE ROAD, MORE TIME AT HOME
Hauling forest products such long distances requires lightweight trailers that can travel (and unload) quickly. When it comes to buying trailers, Kurt says he looks for two things: speed and durability.
About seven years ago, Kurt found a trailer that had both. After meeting a Trinity vendor, he bought four Trinity trailers to add to his fleet and just purchased another four.
“Speed is a big thing for us,” Kurt says. “We do all our own deliveries, so the faster we’re back on the road, the better. If you need to turn big loads quickly, this is the trailer.”
And the faster these trailers can move and unload, the faster Kurt and his drivers can get home.
COMPANY: Connecticut Mulch & Connecticut Forest Products
INDUSTRY: Mulch, forest products
LOCATION: Enfield, Connecticut
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