Fence posts were first made in South Georgia Southern Yellow Longleaf Pine using the “fat lightered” part of the tree as it was usually called. The posts have a lifetime of 100 plus years. Farmers in the area made fences by laying them on top of one another in a diaganol line. When farmers started using wire for the fences, the “fat lightered” posts were put in the ground to hold up the wire. Woodsmen cut the trees and hand hewed the lightered parts into posts and sold them all over the southeast. As the older lightered trees were cut out; these same woodsmen started using heart cypress as posts and continued selling them in the Southeast area to cattle farmers.
After the Cypress posts were no longer available Southern Pine trees were debarked and treated by dipping them into a barrel filled with creosote oil made from coal tar. More modern mills were built which used a machine to peel these small trees and pressure treat them in a cylinder or retort under pressure. B&M Wood Products was started by Fred Blackledge and Roy Musgrove in 1966 as a post operation. They had a peeling operation and a Creosote retort for pressure treating the posts. The posts were cut by small crews using a chainsaw and farm tractors. The suppressed trees from Southern yellow pine forstests were selected because they were very dense and straight and, therefore made an excellent fence post.
B&M Wood Products was purchased from Fred and Roy in 1974. B&M had sales of $400,000.00 at the time and employed 8 people. In 1978 another retort was installed to treat with CCA as the Creosote product was becoming more expensive. That same year a ring type debarker was installed and the production and sales increased 50% over 3 years. In 1984 a pole peeler was installed to peel larger “barn” poles, ranging from 4” to 8” in diameter and up to 25’ long.
In 1990 the small cutting crews were becoming a dying breed due to insurance costs and labor expense, so B&M started a company crew to harvest trees. After 1 year of learning the company crew made 10 loads per week. The equipment has been upgraded so that now we are making 35 loads per week. The equipment the harvesting crew uses measures the diameter and length of the trees before they are cut. We program in a computer the sizes we are needing and the processing head cuts those sizes thus reducing our inventory and enabling us to respond to large orders in a timely fashion.
In 2000 we installed an automatic grading system that measures the diameter and length of the posts and automatically grades the posts to the nearest 1/100 of an inch reducing the chance of misgrading the posts and poles.
My son James Stovall IV “Jim” is the Vice President of the company and has worked for us for 10 years, Sue Hodges is in charge of sales and accounting and has worked for B&M for 15 years. Both are very dedicated and work very hard to keep our company viable and take B&M Wood Production into the next 30 years of operation of making posts and poles from the forest to the farm.