Great Lakes Veneer in Marion, Wisconsin is the birthplace of many of the precision-crafted, one-of-a-kind products in your home. It’s also a cutting-edge 130-year-old manufacturer making sure the community that helped it grow is around for another 130 years – and how it’s achieving that goal earned Great Lakes Veneer a 2023 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award.
Turning logs into paper-thin sheets requires energy that begins in the fields next to Great Lakes Veneer. The logs need to be kept wet then cut into a piece of wood that’s four feet and weighs 500 pounds. Then, sliced with precision cutting tools.
That log could be the skateboard you bought your child for their birthday.
That log is a conversation starter.
“I'll tell you, my teenage sons really picked up when, when Dave gave me a scrap of the product and I could tell them, this is part of your long board,” Tim Dantoin, Focus on Energy Advisor said at the award ceremony for Great Lakes Veneer. “And their ears really picked up and they started asking questions.
If that log wants to pass the rigorous tests needed to become quality, Great Lakes Veneer sheets, it’s going to need a lot of energy…energy that Great Lakes Veneer is spending more than $750,000 to use more efficiently.
“The project itself saved 1.5 million kilowatt hours,” Tim Dantoin Focus on Energy Advisor said at the award ceremony for Great Lakes Veneer. “And 240,000 therms. That’s energy equivalent of 450 homes worth of annual energy use (in Wisconsin).”
Great Lakes Veneer embarked on a 3-year effort in 2020 to improve its product drying operation. By the end of 2022, Great Lakes Veneer upgraded steam boiler controls, added variable frequency drives on process pumps and fans, and installed a more efficient de-aeration tank.
“I would like to thank Focus on Energy for the exceptional service as well as some of the engineering benefits and financial benefits of course,” Greg Gorski, Great Lakes Veneer Director of Manufacturing said. “Their assistance allowed us to do a lot of these projects that (we) would not have been able (do) without their help. Alliant Energy coming in and steering us in the right direction Tim coming in and telling us exactly how to step through the quagmire to get through to a good result.”
“There's a lot of manufacturers that, I think, could really walk through this plant and, and open their eyes to the amount of energy efficiency and automation that's used in this facility,” Jason Nett of Alliant Energy said.
A facility that is and will continue to be a vital part of the community that keeps making those quality, precision cut veneer sheets that might just be the next baseball bat used in the major leagues or the skateboard you buy for your child’s birthday.
“Their commitment to family values (and) continuous improvement in innovation has seen them through more than a century of social and economic changes spanning four generations, two world wars, the Great Depression, and major recessions,” Frank Barh, Focus on Energy, Utility Engagement Relationship Manager said.
“So, thank you, Great Lakes Veneer Corporation for not only allowing Focus on Energy to be part of your family, but also for giving us the opportunity to partner with you in your ongoing efforts to identify and implement energy efficiency improvements and for making energy efficiency part of your team-oriented culture."