Running a successful sawmill means that you will need a constant source of logs to process and turn into a marketable product. Finding logging companies may be harder than you think, but definitely worth the effort. You will need to build a network of loggers and timber suppliers. Loggers don't usually advertise, so looking in the newspaper or phone book will most likely yield minimal results. Networking is the way to go. You need to find people who work with loggers and are willing to share their information with you.
You could contact a timber cruiser or timber buyer. Timber buyers do advertise, and they have established relationships with many logging companies throughout the course of their career. Many times the owner of a small logging company will be the timber buyer. Watch for signs along the road and advertisements in the classifieds of your local paper. These ads generally start with “Buying Standing Timber.” It is a good idea to establish a relationship with timber buyers in your area. They are frequently looking for sawmills to buy their lower grade logs.
Make contact with foresters in your area. Foresters work with timber land owners. They provide a service to the land owner who wants to get the best price possible for their timber. Foresters will have a list of loggers, that they will contact when accepting bids on a piece of timber.
Foresters are also a good source for high quality logs. They spend many years managing different forests for the best quality yield.
County Farm Agencies
Farm agencies are in constant contact with many farm and forest owners. They may know which farmers are having their timber harvested at a particular time. They may even know which farmers are interested in having their timber harvested. Contacting a land owner directly will put you a step ahead of the timber cruisers. This would be a good way to purchase standing timber and hire one of the loggers you found to harvest it for you.
State Natural Resources Department
One of the largest landowners in any state, is the state itself. The state owns thousands of acres of forest land that is set aside for hunting, camping, and recreation. There are agencies in the state government who's job it is to manage these lands. These agencies have different names in different states such as, Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Game Department, or Parks Service. These agencies are constantly selling standing timber, and will have a very large list of logging companies.
Look for signs and ads that say firewood for sale. While there are some firewood sellers who only sell firewood, most of the time they do something else and firewood is a side business. Chances are good that the firewood seller, is also a logger, or they own another tree related business. Even if they do only sell firewood, they will know some loggers. They will likely have bought tree tops from a logger or two.
Everywhere you go, talk about what you do. Keep a good supply of business cards on hand all the time. Pass out your business cards every chance you get. People you talk to everyday can have knowledge that is useful to you, don't be afraid to ask. Most of the time folks are happy to share their knowledge with you. You may even pick up a few customers this way. Always be on the lookout for an opportunity to build a business relationship.