Sawmill operator Paul Darling has been named the Massachusetts Wood Producer of the Year for 2020.
Darling, 68, and his family operate Gurney’s Saw Mill in East Freetown, a 150 year old family business that is now in its 6th generation. The Gurney Saw Mill produces lumber used for local construction, as well as wholesale markets. The business has 8 full time employees including Paul’s daughter, Jennifer Durant and son Jon.
Paul Darling began working at the mill in 1969 for his uncle, Merton Gurney, and he and his wife, Sharlene, purchased it in 1993. The mill buys logs from local loggers and landclearers and saws them into lumber and beams. The principal species sawn is white pine, with some red and white oak, hemlock and cedar also produced when they are available. The mill includes both planing and dry kiln operations.
Over the time Darling has operated the mill, he has increased production considerably and upgraded most of the operations to be more efficient. Wood produced at the mill is bought by local homeowners for projects, by shed and barn companies and contractors, by boat builders, and by wholesale dealers for pallet and crating parts. Demand for the mill’s lumber has been high since the coronavirus hit due to homeowners doing more projects and seeking locally produced materials.
“What the Darlings have done in creating a thriving business is a major accomplishment given the ever changing business climate and global competition,” said Forest Alliance President Dicken Crane. “Having a small family-owned mill continue for 6 generations and 150 years is truly impressive.”
The Douglas B. Cook Wood Producer of the Year Award is presented to a timber harvester, sawmill operator, or forest products professional who exemplifies the late Doug Cook’s spirit of innovation and leadership in the industry. The award was presented at MFA’s virtual annual meeting on October 24th.
For more information about Gurney’s, see their attractive website at www.gurneyssawmill.com