Recent years have seen skyrocketing energy costs for oil and electricity, and more demand than ever for sustainable ways to heat homes. It’s not surprising, then, that the market for firewood is growing.
So, too, is DYNA Products, headquartered in the village of Millington, Michigan. In business since 1998, DYNA has primarily focused on equipment serving the firewood processing industry. The company manufactures and sells a full line of wood processors, up to and including its newest model for 2024, the SC-16 Rapid Split.
According to Chris Wilcox, Industrial Sales Team Lead with DYNA Products, the features on these new machines show how DYNA acts on cues from the market. “We listen to our customers,” says Wilcox. “We brainstorm with the engineers and figure out the most valuable thing that our customers want. The SC-16’s auto cycle was one of those innovations.”
DYNA’s current product line spans almost the entire cycle of wood processing. “Not only do we do firewood processors, we do auxiliary units as well. We build everything from standalone conveyors to tumblers, splitters, bundlers, and grapple units, and we’re now getting into chippers as well. We encompass the whole wood processing market, from end to end.”
DYNA’s machines make difficult work faster, easier, and more profitable for end users. “I wish I’d had these machines when I was younger,” Wilcox laughs. “I wouldn’t have been out there with an ax and a chainsaw.”
An expansion of the company’s facilities in 2022 paved the way for growth, adding a new fabrication area and a paint and blast area to DYNA’s 51,000-square-foot facility. That expansion helped DYNA secure additional manufacturing capabilities, including its most recent acquisition of Vortex woodchippers. According to the company, DYNA Products now has exclusive rights to manufacture and market the line of products using the patented Vortex design.
However, the growth of its wood processing product line is but one example of DYNA’s diversification. Wilcox was initially brought into the company to grow the industrial sales business. His role has expanded since then, translating into a broader range of both work and customers.
“We’ve got a tube laser, a sheet laser, and we have multiple CNC mills,” he says. “We have several lathes. We do custom electrical wire harnesses in-house. Fabrication, paint, blast, and of course, all of our own assembly in-house as well. We were outsourcing some of that work, but we’ve brought it back in-house.”
This in-house capability has allowed DYNA to take on work from companies in diverse industries, ranging from an infrared and gas heat-equipment business to large trailer manufacturers, to a high-volume pump manufacturer, to companies that make pool lifts and dock lifts.
The company’s foundations are rooted in the forest. DYNA was founded in 1998 by Nathan and Norman Miller. The brothers manufactured specialty log furniture processing equipment in their father’s fence post business. Their love for woodcraft evolved into an entrepreneurial drive to serve the wood processing industry.
Norman Miller later sold his share, and Nathan now serves as CEO of DYNA Products, owning the company with three other people who joined later.
The company is Amish-owned and operated, and unabashedly wears its beliefs on its sleeve. It begins with the company’s mission statement and continues with a set of 12 core values: teamwork, respect, personal development, integrity, humility, honesty, good communication, servant leadership, family, excellence, accountability, and solution orientation.
Wilcox stresses that these values aren’t just words on a page; they’re manifested in the way people work with each other, both within the company and with others. “Our mission statement is to be a blessing, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. That is who we are,” he says.
It starts when a new employee joins. Wilcox joined DYNA Products about two years ago from the corporate world, and he remembers the interview well. “This was the longest interview I’ve ever had; it took just over two hours. They were very thorough and asked some excellent questions. Not just about my skills and experience—about me as a person.”
Growing its presence
The business has grown far beyond its modest beginnings, with three dealers in the United States, located in Kentucky, Wisconsin, and California, as well as a dealership in Japan.
In addition to these sales dealerships, the company also has rental centers located across the United States. Some are DYNA-authorized, and there are also private rental centers as well; DYNA is a member of the ARA (American Rental Association).
“We’re always looking for new rental centers across the U.S. That’s something unique that we do; no other manufacturer rents this kind of equipment. We say it’s like buying a car—you can try before you buy,” Wilcox explains. Indeed, some long-term renters will ultimately purchase a machine of their own and rent it to others when they’re not using it, an additional source of revenue.
Most of the rented machines ultimately make their way back. “The majority of machines come back to DYNA. We take those machines and we go as deep as we need to for refabrication purposes. Then we put them back out on the market for sale, with a one-year warranty.”
Naturally, quality is paramount for DYNA Products. “DYNA is the only manufacturer that has a three-year warranty on a new firewood processor,” Wilcox says proudly. The industry standard, in contrast, is only one year. Some companies, he notes, have tried to offer warranties similar in length to DYNA’s, but have backed away.
The company’s values underpin every decision it makes, particularly when it comes to keeping its customers happy. Wilcox remembers an incident where a DYNA machine was sold with a defective motor (not made by DYNA but by a supplier). Most companies would have swapped out the motor; instead, Wilcox remembers, DYNA stepped up and gave the customer an entirely new machine.
Even companies who always do the right thing, without fail, face headwinds, and DYNA is no exception.
Currently, the biggest single challenge facing the business is inflation. When the products you sell range from $30,000 at the low end into the six-figure range, interest rates have a significant impact on your customers. DYNA posted record sales for the first quarter of 2023, but the second and third quarters were challenging. Happily, Wilcox reports, the business is starting to see an uptick.
However, he says, everyone in the company remained positive, optimistic, and focused on the future through the challenging months. Good business decisions mitigated some of the effects: the used market and the rental market sustained DYNA’s business in a way that wasn’t the case for some companies.
Wilcox says that DYNA Products is a “blessing” to the community in which it operates, and vice versa. DYNA provides about 60 people with good jobs in Millington—a small village of just over 1,000 people—and in the surrounding communities. The local restaurant, at which many employees enjoy meals throughout the week, is also supported by DYNA’s presence.
DYNA means more to the community than just its direct economic impact, though. The company supports the local school through advertising and yearbook sponsorships, and participates in benefits in support of community members. Just last fall, remembers Wilcox, there was a benefit for a family whose daughter required major surgery, and DYNA stepped up to help.
“We want to do the right things,” Wilcox says. “That’s where integrity comes in. If you can give back to the community, it shows what kind of company you are.”