A locally owned business is on target to begin production of staves for bourbon barrels next month at (North) Stephens Hardwoods in south Pine Knot. Jerry Stephens, owner of Stephens Hardwoods, announced his stave mill will soon be up and running with approximately twenty employees. The new division will use white oak to manufacture staves- the individual strips of wood that form the sides of barrels. Stephens’ stave division will manufacture all of the wooden parts for barrels and will send the cut-offs and sawdust to Kingsford Charcoal for their use.
“Every bit of the logs will be used,” Stephens commented. “Nothing will be wasted.”
Since McCreary County’s economy has traditionally benefited primarily from the raw sale of logs and not from the benefits of local mills working raw wood into finished products, Stephens is pleased to begin production of value-added, finished wood products.
Stephens, who has invested approximately two million dollars in the stave division, hopes to make complete barrels by opening a cooperage at some point in the future. If successful, a cooperage would provide approximately sixty to eighty more jobs.
“Wood is a natural and renewable resource,” Stephens remarked. “Timber and lumber ran this county for years. I’m hoping to take another step for our local industry…benefitting landowners, loggers, sawmills, and those who make value-added wood products.”