It is always good to see someone from Fort Scott do well. In an April 14th publication of the Southern Logging Times, one of the features was on Evergreen Wood Recycling with numerous quotes from Larry Simpson, a Fort Scott High School graduate from 1974. Simpson's parents are Carney and Estelle Simpson, who still reside here in Fort Scott.
Their lead paragraph read, "One constant in Evergreen Wood Recycling is that it's constantly changing. At various points in its 20-year history, the grinding operation has been a logging outfit, a contract grinding service, a provider of pulpwood for paper mills, a biomass supplier, and a recycling yard. In fact, it is Evergreen's ability to adapt to changing markets and conditions that have helped it survive where others have failed."
In an interview with Larry Simpson, the co-owner, he was quoted as saying, "I was born and raised in Kansas, not exactly timber country. For some reason, however, I have always loved logging and forestry, so after high school, I enrolled at the University of Missouri where I got a degree in forestry, and, right after graduation, I moved to Savannah, Georgia to get on a logging crew, and I have been here ever since."
Simpson found out he not only had a knack for logging but the foresight to realize that somehow the issues confronting the industry could present new opportunities. "I saw the amount of waste generated as a normal part of the logging process, and felt that material could be put to better use. At that time, most of the byproduct of logging was simply sheared up and burned, and some of that still goes on today. I thought if I could grind some of that debris and take on other grinding jobs, I might be able to make a go of it, and that has happened."
Larry started out with focusing on contract grinding, but he also got to know some of the key people at the paper mills. There are five large ones within 100 miles of Savannah, and he started getting orders for boiler fuel, better know today as biomass.
Evergreen's operation includes contract grinding, and that has been a mainstay since day one. Yards in Savannah and Hilton Head are drop off and collection sites that Evergreen uses to generate the bulk of its biomass material that goes to the mills. The Fort Scott native reflected on the development, "It's the best of both worlds for me; I get the revenue from the grinding but don't have the overhead of maintaining another site. I didn't expect this to happen, but it seems to be the way things have gone for us, and I'm not complaining."