Most sawmills in the country see wood shavings as a byproduct. But for the makers of Suncoast Pine Shavings, that byproduct is their bread-and-butter.
“We manufacture shavings on purpose,” says Eddie Chalmers, president of Agri-Products, which manufactures Suncoast Pine Shavings in Fitzgerald.
The company started in 2003, carving out a niche for wood shavings used as animal bedding primarily for the equine and poultry industries, as well as other livestock.
Chalmers says the company consolidated its two locations into one in Fitzgerald in 2011, creating one of the largest shaving manufacturing facilities in the U.S. The company “cut its teeth” selling shavings to the thoroughbred racehorse industry, which uses them to fill horse stalls, and quickly expanded to other markets, including bedding for home pets like hamsters and dogs. Products from the Fitzgerald plant now are shipped throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and internationally.
Suncoast Pine Shavings can be found in Canada, Singapore, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. And the company’s products are commonly found in horse stalls in the United Arab Emirates, where they are used for bedding for thoroughbred racing, endurance and show horses.
“The equine and poultry industries look for wood shavings that have very little dust, which could present problems for the animals’ respiratory systems,” Chalmers says. “Suncoast shavings are screened to remove dust several times for that reason.”
The bedding also is compostable and certified as organic by the Organic Materials Review Institute. Even the plastic bag in which it is delivered is recyclable.
The company uses the waste and dust to fuel its burners at the plants. Suncoast uses wood suppliers that are certified for using renewable and sustainable sources by the Georgia Forestry Commission.