Pittsfield, Vt. (WCAX) — When the weather drops, Ray Colton’s business gets hotter.
Vermont has a long tradition of heating homes with wood. In the early 1980s, Colton is credited with helping to turn the industry around. He was delivering green wood to Killington’s apartment which he said was going through wood “not like tomorrow.”
“I said, ‘I have to ask, how do you burn this stuff?'” And the man said, “No problem. We go skiing in the morning, fill the oven right up, turn it on high, come home at night, and get nice dry wood!”
Reporter Joe Carroll: Sounds like a fire hazard to me.
Ray Colton: A person’s fire risk and expense.
Colton decided to do the same, but on an industrial scale. “I think most people thought I was crazy in any way thinking about that,” he said. Now, Colton Enterprises processes up to 7,000 kiln-dried wood wire annually.
Reporter Joe Carroll: How much does the rope cost now?
Ray Colton: $400 picked up here.
Joe Carroll: Sorry! It’s gone up, right?
Ray Colton: Well, I can give you the bill for the oil. Want to see how it goes!
Colton says other people took on his idea, but he’s the king of the woodpile in the Green Mountains, and he even sells lumber all over New England. “You can hardly sell timber if it is not kiln-dried,” he said.
“We started out, basically, with nothing,” said Linda, Colton’s wife of 54 years. “He’s used to splitting with a little homemade wood chipper.”
“We have two wood chip boilers,” he explained. He says it takes about three days for the moisture to get out.
Although the winter months are peak times for action, there’s still time for another November tradition—deer season. I have to tell you about those, I filmed all three. Colton says, showing off the family tropes.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You held a deer too, right?
Linda Colton: Well, Mr. Suboru committed suicide on the hood of my car.
Linda escaped unscathed and was allowed to keep the body. “Everyone who was working here was loaded into two trucks and a car and we went and got him,” she said.
High in the Pittsfield Hills is Colton Deer Camp. “Clear your mind. Sit in that hammock on the porch over there, and feel the cold.”
On the weekends, the beds are filled with friends and family.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You know deer hunting, especially with kids, is fading away.
Ray Colton: Tell me about it… I don’t like it but I don’t know what you’re going to do about it.
He’ll be hunting when dawn breaks, so after a quick bite, he’s back at the factory. “I don’t think he can slow down,” Linda said.
Yankee’s ingenuity outshines the rest.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You’re kind of a businessman.
Ray Colton: I think.
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