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Interview with Niels Jorgensen, September 13, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Niels Jorgensen, September 13, 2002
Date:
September 13, 2002
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Jorgensen, Niels Interviewer:  Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview:  9/13/2002 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length  46 minutes

 

Zarbock: Good afternoon. My name is Paul Zarbock, a staff member at the William Madison Randall Library located at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Today’s date is 13th of September in the year 2002. We’re in Burgaw, North Carolina in the offices of Niels Jorgensen who is also the President of Niels Jorgensen Company, Inc. Niels and I were having a conversation in the “green room” before we turned on the tape so I’m going to queue him into repeating what I asked him before.

Zarbock: Niels, tell me a little about your family background and how you got into the business. Also would you hold up that logo. Let me take a look at that. You’ve got a hand squeezing a tree. Tell me about your family background and business background and how did you get into this.

Jorgensen: It goes back to my great-granddad who first and foremost was building windmills and of course the primary construction method at that time was lumber and wood and that was how we initially went into the lumber business. It built up over the years. He would walk around the region back then on is business travels. As time passed on, his son, my granddad, moved into also the lumber business, more in the area of dimensions and how you cut a log up.

He started with small slivers for wooden clogs that would be used as a wear service and later that business grew into an exporting business through the middle of the 20th century.

Zarbock: And these were wooden clogs, shoe ware.

Jorgensen: It was actually the wear strip for that so it wouldn’t wear the shoe itself, but only the strip and they could be replaced. He went into creating dimension lumber of various pieces, mainly beech which is a predominant type of species of lumber in Denmark and that became the... So he built a sawmill and dimension exports went to Sweden, to Britain and most likely also Germany and various other locations.

As he was getting older and was trying to sell the sawmill and was not successful, at that time it was not common for it to happen. It generally stayed in the family and my dad returned home after being in the military and worked several years in television and radio repair work.

Zarbock: This was after World War II, is that correct?

Jorgensen: After World War II and dad returned home to run the sawmill at which time it had lingered along for many years and needed some major maintenance and upkeep. He started out upgrading the sawmill using the latest transistors and electronics to automate the whole sawmill. Also eventually he needed to dry because that’s what the market began requiring.

So he built the first kilns for his own sawmill and by somewhat of an accident, he put too much of ______ and _____ into them or maybe it was on purpose, but you had to control it. At that time of course frequency controls were not available in general and he ended up developing a system where the fans would start and stop. That proved to dry the beech very white and very well. People started inquiring about who was building the kilns which he did himself and sold a couple of kilns.

At the same time, business was getting more difficult due to let’s say regulatory burdens in Denmark and high wages through union. They had come to corner his several times, he finally said yes to being bought out and moved to become part of a bigger company, the manager. After a few years of being there, he didn't like the politics of a large company and moved to quitting that and starting a kiln business. By that time, the kiln business or kiln acquirers had increased and he made a living on that for the next 10 or 15 years into the 80’s and early 90’s and continued to do so.

I moved to the United States after being an exchange student and swore I would never be in the lumber business, but also knew that in order to get a green card, having a special knowledge would be helpful and lumber drying is a rather craft man like education compared to let’s say a university degree. I could get in under that umbrella and did so. Of course at that point I started in it.

After a few years of working in a lumber company, learning all the facets of running a sawmill or to run the kilns…

Zarbock: Where did you learn these skills?

Jorgensen: The skills, I did that as working Dad’s company as being a family business, we worked in it. I would start out doing some drawings, some quotes for the kilns and moved into learning about the control cabinets and then of course at times, I would be sent on the road to go figure out what was wrong. I would be a customer’s place with a diagram that did not necessarily match what was in the cabinet. I had to figure out which component was bad and what was right. So it was kind of like a trial by fire.

I moved into the same business and started my company in the U.S. concentrating on trying to help people build kilns which I was approaching it wrong. It was not exactly what people were trying to buy and I didn't want to do turnkey projects.

Zarbock: Explain that, what was it that they didn't want to buy?

Jorgensen: They wanted something that was easy which were turnkey projects. I was simply saying there was a better way and that way being I’ll tell you how to do it. You use local labor materials and I come with the knowledge and the main components. That was a very hard sell.

Zarbock: So you were something like a contractor in building the house. You didn't do the work, but you would see that the work was done.

Jorgensen: That was what I was trying to do. That was not really a big sell and we then diversified into dip tanks for service treatment of lumber and that carried the company for a few years.

Zarbock: Did you say dip?

Jorgensen: Dip tanks yeah.

Zarbock: What do you dip?

Jorgensen: You submerge either hardwood or some pine into a light chemical solution which is only a temporary protection against mold and some stains so you don’t have the stain and the mold before it gets in the kilns. We built the first one for a log company and a chemical company saw that design and liked it with the stainless steel and everything else we used. They started promoting it and we now have two chemical companies promoting our product.

Zarbock: Where did you do this manufacturing in the early days? The dip tank.

Jorgensen: Well the early days, actually we had one big order in about four or five years ago in which I decided to take the big jump and started a manufacturing facility. I used the down payment on the equipment to lease a building and buy the equipment.

I then got all the initial materials we needed for the project on credit from the vendors and I built the system after which I got of course next payment and could pay off most of the vendors, installed it and came out really with a zero except I now had leased a place, had the equipment to build a metal fabrication which I knew I needed in order to move onto the next level of kiln company. That fall was very difficult and we just merely made it by.

Zarbock: What year was that?

Jorgensen: That would be in probably ’96 or ’97, probably ’96, somewhere around that time. We were supposed to get a huge order in. We negotiated for a good six months and it was worth about $300,000, but it fell through after one of the main stockholders in that company supposedly had a big loss in another stock and he pulled out. We were standing there hanging with the employees, equipment, although it was paid for, most of it.

We made it through that fall in which the dip tanks were coming along and we also shipped to Europe. An African order helped us out through this and we had a good order through my Dad’s company to Africa of the components we were building the last part of that. I really couldn’t afford it; however the person wanted a dip tank built and we used the down payment of the dip tank to fill the African order and moved into finishing the dip tank and that’s how we got into the dip tank business. I simply couldn’t say no.

Zarbock: When you say Africa, where in Africa?

Jorgensen: It was for Ghana. We supplied half of the components, mainly the metal type casing portion of it for 10 kilns built in Africa through Dad’s company. We have done quite a bit of export to different areas. The most recent one is Russia directly from here through a new branch of our system which is kiln direct.

Once the internet came about and the way to spread information much more efficiently, we could then return to our original thoughts which were helping people build kilns by making the information much more accessible and easy to understand through our website.

Zarbock: Is that how you do most of your marketing, through the website?

Jorgensen: It is.

Zarbock: Do you have anybody knocking on doors?

Jorgensen: No, we do not. It is simply done by a few advertisements in magazines and then the website is our main method of explaining ourselves. People will call us for a brochure or a catalog of components and I say sorry, it’s all on the website. Then most of them say good, they’ll go there. A few will say I don’t have a computer and I don’t want one and then I say well you’re probably not the one we want to deal with because we are so heavily dependent on staying efficient through information technology.

It comes from around the world. We continue to export and within two weeks will send a dip tank system to New Zealand.

Zarbock: Who is your competition? Are there other companies doing the same thing, manufacturing the same products that you make?

Jorgensen: There are generally three companies in the U.S. that manufacture dip tanks on a larger scale, maybe four depending on what size you’re looking at. We have two years on the internet market and our competitors have done a few missteps in having finder’s fees, we were able to probably become one of the three major manufacturers in a two year period and have between 40 and 50 dip tanks running throughout the United States right now.

Zarbock: I hope you don’t see this as insolent, but what would a dip tank cost me if I wanted one?

Jorgensen: The standard version which is for one bundle of lumber up to 16 foot long. The tank itself is 6’ x 6’ x 20’ with a hydraulic system, all stainless steel components right under $20,000.

Zarbock: What does the hydraulic system do?

Jorgensen: It’s really a fork system which you place this lumber on a rack or a fork system. You hit a remote control and it will automatically clamp down on the lumber so it doesn’t float off the forks because it would otherwise. Then it will submerge the fork into the solution, stay there for two or three minutes, come back out and it will release the clamp and it will drip for a little while. Then it’s picked up and taken away and a new one is put on.

Zarbock: Is this a bundle of let’s say 2x4’s.

Jorgensen: Most of it is hardwood, poplar or oak, where you have random width, but generally anywhere from one to two inches, four quarter, or three quarters.

Zarbock: How does the material get so in between the…

Jorgensen: Actually the rough cut nature of the boards allows it to get in there. That’s why you keep it in for two minutes. You’re not looking to get it into the lumber. You just want it on the very surface. Once it is planed later, it will not stay there. It’s just to prevent stain and therefore retain a high portion of the lumber for a quality product.

Zarbock: Is this a toxic material that’s in the tank?

Jorgensen: You don’t want to drink it, but you can fall in it (laughter). Does that help?

Zarbock: It’s not heated, is it?

Jorgensen: It’s not heated, no. Some people say it’s like the detergent you have for washing dishes, its about the same type of chemical in many ways, but it has a little bit of a prevention effort to it.

Zarbock: Let’s move on to the kilns. Do you produce kilns in various sizes?

Jorgensen: We have made several standard sizes that we make very affordable for people to buy, instructional information on how to install it and also in how to…drawings and drawing packages. The standard ones are very affordable to get all the knowledge from us. Otherwise, we do custom made projects. We work on an hourly fee similar to an architect.

Then we give them the choice of purchasing from us. All our equipment can be found with specifications and pricing on our website. For two reasons, one is it’s easier for us. The second one is if I’m selling to Chile which we did earlier in the year, they are able to find local fans at a much lower cost than we can manufacture them in America. So they have easy access to pricing and specifications.

We really allow them to find local materials and equipment that they can substitute. It probably will not be stainless, but then again they need to have it be more cost efficient and have a lower investment because of the prices of labor etc. are so much lower, they can’t afford all the American price levels. Those places will then sell maybe steam valves, maybe the kiln controls, the sensors in another component.

Zarbock: Is this device, are these devices of your design, are they patented?

Jorgensen: They’re no longer patented. There were patents for a while, but it has been done for so long, that there really are very few patents to be had in this business. There is a little bit from the power kilns which is for the heat treatment, it’s a new field for kiln manufacturers, not only me, but my competitors as well.

The new rules from the IPPC, International Plant Protection Commission, all solid wood products as you pack materials must be heat treated before shipping between continents.

Zarbock: Why?

Jorgensen: The reason, first we have had the longhorn beetle come into the U.S. from China and other ones as well. These pests have no natural enemies in our environment. For that reason, we can’t have them. Now it has already happened. We’re trying to minimize, the IPPC is trying to minimize this as much as possible. They developed something called 56C30 which is 56C Celsius internally for at least 30 minutes. That kills virtually all bugs.

Zarbock: Explain that a little further, would you.

Jorgensen: We would build a turnkey kiln which comes like a mobile home. It’s put on a concrete slab. You load the pallets in there and then insert internal sensors into the stringer

or the thickest piece of lumber in the pallet.

Zarbock: Directly into the wood itself?

Jorgensen: Exactly and then we heat it up to a certain temperature into the kiln until the last probe reaches 56C, 133F and then it remains at that temperature for half an hour and any living organism that gets about 50 degrees body temperature will die and the same thing with bugs. So that is the theory behind it. It doesn’t prevent reinfestation, but it’s very unlikely to get reinfested later on.

Zarbock: When you say heat, how is the heat produced?

Jorgensen: Heat can be done several ways. The most common one we’re seeing is a direct gas burner, heating a flame into the duct work. Then it’s being recirculated from the air from the kiln through the duct work so not to have a high return air coming out of the duct work.

Zarbock: And who produces the several mechanisms that control the heat and time?

Jorgensen: We do that here. We get the PLC, program of logical control and we program them. We wire the cabinet upstairs and we do all the engineering and the PC Windows software to communicate with us and generate the records to prove that they actually been fully heat treated.

Zarbock: If you were sending your specs to Peru as you pointed out, what sort of technical assistance do you provide in addition to the website information?

Jorgensen: Well first we have phone consultation. They call us up and hopefully speak English. At the same time, we have papers to send with the system. The last resort would be they allow us up saying we need you down here and they’ll pay for all the travel and a certain daily fee for us to be on site.

We really try to make a very easy to learn website where they can learn how to run the software step by step. There’s a picture of what’s going on with the system and descriptions below there. We developed that in the last two years. Most of our customers today would rather be on there learning it than talking to me on the phone because if either one of us gets disturbed, the session is over. Whereas with the computer, maybe in the evening, they’re free to sit there and study it themselves.

Zarbock: Niels, two of the most bare knuckled questions that are asked of new businesses are who needs you and how good are you. Well who needs a kiln and how good are they? Who needs it?

Jorgensen: Who needs it? Sawmills. Lumber needs to be dried. Historically the kilns are moved from furniture manufacturers to the sawmills. It’s a natural migration of the capacity. It also allows for the furniture places to be smaller and more agile. In the past, they could only get wet lumber. They would store six to nine months of materials ahead of the kilns to make sure they had even production through the kilns and on into the factory.

Then it’s moved to the sawmill who will dry the lumber. Instead of having a market for green lumber mainly, now you have more K.D. lumber, both actually but K.D. so the furniture factories…

Zarbock: Do you say K.D.?

Jorgensen: Kiln dried, it’s a technical term we use. Now you’re buying more and more kiln dried material and it allows small furniture manufacturers to make it. It’s a natural migration.

Also as transport becomes longer, you can get 50% more on a truckload when it’s dry than when it’s wet. How good are we?

Zarbock: Let me interrupt again. How much water is there in a log?

Jorgensen: You take a log, moisture - content is measurable as the percentage of the weight when it’s completely dry. So when you’re 100% moisture content, that means half would be water, half would be wood. Now normally you don’t have many species laying in 100% range. Oak will generally only maybe 60% to 70%. The yellow poplar will be maybe 70% to 90% to 100%. Pine in the same area when it gets cut in the forest.

Zarbock: While we’re on that topic, there’s been a lot of material recently written recently about logs that have been submerged for years and years and years, hardwoods. Wouldn’t that be a great product, wouldn’t your product be in demand?

Jorgensen: Compared to the total volume of lumber needing to be dried, that is such a minute amount. However, it is a niche that certain companies explore. I have Cape Fear oak river floor in my house. Then you know these companies will get Cape Fear River dried and have _____, no difference than having a _______ in your house in the lumber industries, with exotic species and other things. For the smaller portion of hardwoods, that is really the benefit.

Now the vast majority of wood being used, who couldn’t care less because inside a dry wall, it is used in construction and other things. So it’s very different ways it is used. But hardwood, it is a renewable resource. It’s one of the few things that keeps growing and we keep having more of. The fact that the U.S. has 80% more standing hardwood volume today than we had in 1950, we have more standing hardwood forests today than we have had since 1950.

Zarbock: As a result of what?

Jorgensen: Growth. More and more farmland gets put away because they are more and more efficient in farming, we actually have more standing forest.

Zarbock: So these are planted forests?

Jorgensen: There are very little virgin forests left in America. So it’s all planted to some extent. The pine forests have not really increased in volume, but there’s much more being grown also through agri-forestry which is more of a plantation type forest.

Zarbock: What do you mean by plantation forest?

Jorgensen: That means that instead of having a corn field which is an annual crop, we’re looking now at a five or ten year crop, agri-forestry. It’s kind of agriculture and forestry put together. It is not seeding it and leaving it there for 50 years and coming back. It’s managed. You cut it once and it becomes a plantation product.

Zarbock: But I interrupted, what good are you and who needs you?

Jorgensen: How good we are, of course we think we’re one of the best. Now I would say that we took a different approach. I do know some people who don’t like our approach especially some of our competitors in being very open. We give our information that until now, kiln manufacturers were very proprietary.

We decided well we might as well give it free. The conclusion I came to as I was struggling in the beginning, I said to myself, some disgruntled Niels Jorgensen is going to be out there one day will have lost the business and will simply make a website and with all the information available. I concluded if that was going to happen anyway, I might as well be the first one and try to control that information.

I came up with Kiln Direct which was the name and developed a website for it and it took about a year and half, putting a lot of time and effort into describing theory and kiln building, how to build it, used our inventory of pictures to develop a picture series on how to construct kilns and also give them a chance to look at each individual product we make from the fans to the controls to the vents and say is this competitive.

In that period, we also began to make more and more stainless steel, we almost make nothing in regular steel anymore because of the corrosive environment of the kiln. We kept developing and trying to push prices down inside to make sure each component we sell is competitive.

Zarbock: Who designed your website?

Jorgensen: I did it myself. I was always into computers but decided it was not a business I wanted to be in for money and gave it up when I was in school. But I still had enough knowledge. I had some computer language classes and taught myself the basics of how to make a web page. So today I do my own web page designs and I do the windows based programming for software.

So we gave it free. Some people like it and we tend to get the customers who are hands on and can see the benefit. There tend to be less problems. The ones who want a turnkey system, they don’t want to touch anything which means that I might be five hours away, they’ll call and say they have a problem and expect me to be there. Well they don’t understand it takes a day’s road trip which will easily cost $500. It doesn’t make sense if you’re only selling it for $10,000. You do that five times, your profit is gone.

I had the worst case I ever had before we did Kiln Direct. This is one of the examples I used to explain our system is better. Somebody calls me up, I did good service for them and the fan shed doesn’t work. The fan shed is the way we air dry lumber accelerated by putting a lot of air from outside over the lumber. I drove two hours to the place to see if a fuse was blown. I get in there, change the fuse and said that was the problem.

I knew the manager. The manager was instrumental in helping me get my dip tank business started. I was not going to charge him. They called me up four months later and I happened to be in New York state on a business trip and so I couldn’t come by. Okay, I’ll call a local contractor to find a fuse. They would rather call someone in and waste a half day of their time than pay $40 for someone locally.

I knew we had to put a value on service and Kiln Direct does that. You can buy service or you can figure it out yourself. Someone in Russia who gets $150 a month in pay, they can spend a whole month trying to figure out a problem and it’s more economical than calling me because we have a much higher rate in the U.S. So in some ways, we sell components or service, but we don’t mix them.

Zarbock: But if I wanted, if I called and said I want a kiln and I’d like it delivered to my plant, you could manufacture it, transport it, set it up and turn it on, is that correct?

Jorgensen: Only if it’s a power kiln. For standard size kilns, I would say if that’s what you’re looking for, I’ll give you some of my competitor’s names. Now at the same time, I would try and tell you that have you thought of building your own kiln. And you would probably say why and I would say well I’m quite certain that we can do the product for less money that way without compromising quality and performance.

At which I would generally ask you if you’re by a computer. Most people today especially in the United States are sitting by a computer with internet access. Then I would say go the website. I have certain areas on the website that I take people to and you virtually sit with each the same book in front of us, just electronically. Are you at step, are you on step 5, yes, step 5, that’s where in the building process we’re doing so and so. You get into the 15 step series and in the end they say that this makes pretty good sense. Don’t you agree that it make sense?

Then we say well the tools we have available for you are a $49 CD which you buy that will expand this 15 picture process to 300 pictures. We have every detail of how the bolts are being put together, how the _____ is installed and they can put that in their computer when they buy it and they can give it to the contractor who is going to do the job and figure out how to build it. Then I will tell them if they want help during the project, you seem to be looking for two 70 m3 kilns or 30,000 bf. This is the standard size.

For $149, we can print out a complete set of drawings of each panel component, a material list. It will have a general layout of the system and it will have a complete material list. These two tools help you plan and budget the project and manage it very efficiently without having to get your hands too dirty.

Zarbock: One of the aspects of budgeting is personnel costs. How many people, give me a figure. What would be an average size kiln, you could handle what?

Jorgensen: On average, let’s take a 45,000 bf kiln. Two of those together, the kiln itself would be about 27 feet wide and about 36 feet deep with lumber being stacked in 26 feet of it.

Zarbock: How many people would I have to hire to run and maintain?

Jorgensen: You only have one person running it. To run the system, you only have one operator and he will not be doing it all the time. Small sawmills, they spend an hour in the morning operating the kilns. Everything else is automatic. That goes for both me and my competitors. There’s no difference.

Zarbock: So it’s really not like flying some complex aircraft. You load the material into the kiln, you seal it up, you make the adjustments and you go away.

Jorgensen: That’s correct, but you return so often, at least twice a day to make sure that the wood is doing what you expect it to. You could compare it to making a cake. All the ingredients go in there. Well we’re just the oven. We didn't make the lumber, we didn't do a lot of things. The person is putting the oven at 350 degrees is the one with the knowledge. What we’ve done is the kiln process.

We’re just adjusting that temperature and the humidity anyway from a 3 to 30 day period depending on the species, the thickness and the quality you want to get out of it. We would in our software have 200 schedules where they make for one 4’ oak, so you start it up, go to the computer, they’ll pull up starter kiln, pick the schedule and say load the schedule and say okay and from there on, the system is automatic.

Then they need to go and check and make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing, that the moisture content is being adjusted correctly so it can have check points based upon that. That’s how the lumber dries.

Zarbock: How is the moisture expressed out of the machine?

Jorgensen: In relative humidity or depression in certain applications they use relative humidity and use a relative humidity sensor mainly on hardwood and lower temperature applications. The humidity sensor is not very doable at higher temperatures in which we return to the more traditional way which is a wet bulb and dry bulb. The difference between these, the dryer it is, the more evaporation, the colder the wet bulb, that’s the scientific way of measuring it.

Zarbock: What problems do you have with the device? Are there incidents of accidents?

Jorgensen: Yeah, I mean if you dry too fast, for example overheat, you get too high of temperature, you get too much _____going on. Then if you’re losing 10% to 20% of a kiln load, it becomes not firewood, but in theory it can become firewood. So it is very valuable information if you do it right. One of the main things we tell people that have the computer technology is that instead of storing all the information in the brain of the kiln operator, he may have an accident, he may just leave the company, now all the information leaves.

By making him go through the computer and develop the schedules in the computer system, now you just need to teach the new person how to measure the moisture content and you still retain all the information for the kiln operation.

Zarbock: Back to your metaphor of the cake, are you saying that it is possible in the sense of the cake, you can over bake, you can also over bake the wood?

Jorgensen: You can dry too fast which would be essentially the same thing.

Zarbock: Dry too fast, but if you dried it slower, could you get to the same end?

Jorgensen: Yes you could. In a few cases if you dry something too slow, you can’t get the moisture away from the chamber fast enough, you can have mold and stain beginning on the lumber and that can hurt the value as well. So you’ve got to find a nice medium where you stay economical and get it done in a speedy fashion without hurting the lumber. I generally tell people when people call up and want to get into kiln drying, I say well, understand this, the kiln will never make you, but it may break you because everything around the kilns makes or breaks the run.

You can have the best kiln in the world, you’ll still lose money if you can’t manage the lumber flowing, the sawmill and the sales part of it. But if you can’t run your kilns, you lose your value and the kilns will break you.

Zarbock: Are you glad you got into what you’re into?

Jorgensen: I’m having fun with it, yeah. Yes, I’ll say if I look back, I might have tried high tech, but I don’t know, I like what I do. There’s some tradition in it and in two weeks, my dad will actually join the company in the U.S. We will move all the activities from Europe to the U.S. He will service all his customers from here, through the new system. He hated me for the last three years in a business sense because I was ruining his business by doing it the direct way and telling people what things cost, how to build themselves and he knew it was going that way, he just hated that it was being done.

I was doing it, but he also knew it was coming. About a half a year ago, we sat together and I said we’re getting busy here. Europe’s economy is down and we don’t see much help right now for it, so I asked him why not join me in my company and will really just transfer his customers into this business. If they didn't like this new way of doing things, there’s many of our competitors who would probably serve them.

Zarbock: Niels, give me a peak into the future. What does your crystal ball suggest is going to happen in your part of the industry or a parallel part?

Jorgensen: Well what I’m seeing is and it’s pretty much why I developed KD, anything that’s more efficient will eventually happen. Anything that’s more economical will eventually happen. It’s only a matter of time. I simply sat down three years ago saying how can we build a kiln more efficiently and for less money throughout the world. I’m not talking about North Carolina. America and western Europe have a good infrastructure of trade magazines, a good infrastructure of companies that build kilns and that doesn’t help people in South America. It doesn’t help people elsewhere.

So we could be wrong, but what I said was the medium coming out the internet is the best medium with which to try to distribute information. So I said well why would anyone want to buy kiln equipment online. We’re talking back in the time when people were scared to put a credit card on there for just small things so why would they even want to buy a $100,000 piece of equipment online.

Well it turns out that to get people coming back, you need to have a certain pool of information and we spent a lot of time getting that built up so when people come back they can spend probably a couple of days on the website reading and still reading new information. That was our first goal.

Then we built the whole online store which has specifications, pricing and everything on there. It is proving that people do come back. To give one example, Chile, I was sitting in France we got an email from someone in Chile on our company email asking questions. I said what are you trying to do and so forth. Over time, he actually did find a certain amount of products locally to use, but found that we had steam valves and the controls. He bought two controls and four steam valves in the spring.

He wired the money in first because we said this is the bottom line price. We do not build in the risk of operating in Russia or Chile or elsewhere. So you send the money in first and trust us enough where we would send the product. If you use a credit card, of course a credit card secures that they will get the product. It’s in my interest to keep Mastercard happy so they will keep dealing with me as well, and Visa and American Express.

I believe there’s going to be a mediation from one of the companies, who will become the mediator in trade saying that we trust Niels is going to deliver the product and we have experienced that he delivers the product. American Express guarantees that this works, so they get that 2% to be the mediator. It’s much less expensive than the old way of letters of credit and everything else. So today we do sell things online. The last export shipment was to Mexico where they needed components for a power kiln and they paid by credit card and we shipped it about a month ago.

Zarbock: This is one of the insider situations. If you wouldn’t mind, are there some countries that are very difficult with whom to deal and other countries easy to deal.

Jorgensen: There are certain countries we do not deal with. Russia is one of them, Russia and several of the former republics of the Soviet Union. We had a Canadian company that said they would want to have an exclusive market. I said why, they said for so and so reason. They were trying to get us out of the market. I also with Russia, I know I cannot deal there. It is not within my capability to do it efficiently. So I said well you do whatever, I promise not to ship things directly to Russia. I promise not to go and service kilns in Russia directly. I will go through you. He can tag on whatever profit he wants to.

They can still go find the price online and question me if they want to, but I will not go directly. I told them I cannot stop someone in Sweden to buy my product and re-export it to Russia. But if they ask me to go to Russia, I’ll say no. That is the deal we have.

Now there are other countries we will not deal with out of just principles. China is one. I don’t trust the Chinese. I consider them to have very low social capital which is a measure of how much can you trust people. I will not deal with Iraq or Iran. We will not deal with Saudi Arabia currently because I feel that is not a…

Zarbock: Excuse me, what?

Jorgensen: Saudi Arabia although they are officially a friend of the United States, I don’t see it that way. There are a few other countries that we will don’t deal with either because of principles or because I will make a deal saying that this country is not ready for the kiln dry method anyway so why would I want to go there.

Although we were in negotiations with a country in the United ______, they were going to buy two kilns. It’s all online and yesterday I sent him an invoice online with an online payment system. He clicks on the link and he paid for the CD, the drawings and the engineering system for steam chamber.

Zarbock: There aren’t many forests in …

Jorgensen: No, they import European beech for furniture made down there. It doesn’t make any sense at all economically, but they probably have a few extra _____ on trying to get people to work and they’re willing to import material and have people work. And they are willing to import green material and have people work I guess. But again it gives them a place to go to find equipment.

Zarbock: Is there anything else you can tell me to lead me to wisdom and understanding?

Jorgensen: Well lumber and wood isn’t a new resource and it’s one that can be managed similar to our food production and I think people should have a very open mind to how to use this resource. Leaving it be in forest will simply just become a cluttered forest with a lot of debris which becomes very hazardous to fire which we have already seen. This year in some of the western states, we couldn’t stop it because we weren’t allowed to cut it. It’s a resource, in the U.S., we are on the good side. We have more growing now than we did in the past.

Zarbock: Are you going to stick with the business for a while?

Jorgensen: Oh yeah, we will for many years to go.

Zarbock: Thank you sir.

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