C.M. Tucker Lumber Companies, LLC was founded in 1920 by C.M. Tucker, Sr., who firmly believed that personalcontact, honest products, and exceptional serviceequaled success. Carl Tucker didn’t know it then, but hewas building a legacy that has been handed down forfour generations.
Tucker Lumber manufactures a variety of lumber and pressure treated wood products and has been on the same site in Pageland South Carolina for almost 100 years. In the beginning, they were a small mom and pop type operation with a door and window shop and a planer mill. Their major growth began in the 1970’s when pressure treated wood began to make an appearance in the market. C.M. Tucker Lumber eased into the treating operation and that then led to deck components and remanufacturing, which is a large portion of what they do today. Carl III and his four sons, David, Mark, Paul and Andrew are currently active members of the Tucker family that run the business. Mark states that there was never any pressure to join the business but there is a certain advantage to working for yourself. There aren’t many firmly established 4th generation family owned businesses around and C.M. Tucker Lumber is a shining example of how to be successful for almost 100 years.
By the nature of the business, C.M. Tucker Lumber is naturally environmentally conscious – they are preserving wood products to make them last for many years. They own 20,000 acres of timber land and actively manage those acres for the renewable resource (they plant two trees for every one they cut down). When you talk about renewable resources, the other thing that naturally comes to mind, says Mark, is renewable energy. This is also very important to their customers, with Lowe’s being their largest account. They want to be environmentally conscious and on the leading edge of technology. Not everyone was on board with the idea of solar at first, but when the numbers came back, it was hard to deny that it made great business sense.
Shealy Electrical and Inman Solar met with Tucker Lumber in 2015 to discuss a possible solar project. Shealy had worked with Inman in the past and felt that they would be a good fit. Tucker had to decide where to put the solar install and if they wanted roof or ground mount. They operate four locations in Pageland and operate under two separate power companies: Lynches River Electric Co-op (shipping yard and new treating plant) and Duke Energy (manufacturing). They have two off site buildings – one on Lynches side and one on Duke. They elected to put the solar array on the Duke power side due to the solar rebates from Duke, and the fact that they had ample space to locate the project.
There was back and forth discussion on ground vs. rooftop mount, but part of the reason for doing this project was that they wanted to provide education to the local schoolchildren. You can’t take kids up on to a roof (really, not a good idea), so ground mount it was! They are developing a handout for the kids – one side would be from the Duke/ Solar perspective and describe how solar power works and the benefit of that. The other side would talk about sustainable forestry. They mentioned that a lot of kids in school have a bad view of lumber companies, thinking that they are cutting down all of the forests. Tucker Lumber wants them to understand that they actually replant more than they cut down. If these companies didn’t replant, they would put themselves out of business pretty quickly!
This is a relatively small solar installation at 162 kW, but it is a start and it was Duke Energy’s first major South Carolina new commercial program project (outside of residential installations). C.M. Tucker Lumber gladly played the guinea pig for Duke in helping them get up to speed on everything that needed to be done. Mark stated that Inman did a great job in working with Duke. Although there was a lot of planning in the beginning, the project itself only took about three weeks. This project will be Net Metered under Duke Energy’s DER incentive program, allowing Tucker Lumber to save roughly $2,500 per month on their electric bill.
The Duke rebate is really what made this project viable for Tucker Lumber to do. They will also receive a federal tax credit. The warranty was another factor in their decision – with a 4 ½-5 year payback and a 20 year warranty, they are 15 years to the good. It’s a great thing to be environmentally conscious and want to do the right thing, and a short payback makes it that much easier! They found a project that is economically sound, good for the environment and helps with their positive image to their customers – a win-win situation.
C.M. Tucker Lumber was already a Shealy customer, but this was their first major project together. When asked to sum up how the project went, Mark said, “The whole project went great. This was totally turnkey – it just happened. We had to dedicate zero management hours other than going to the site and taking pictures as it progressed. Working with Inman and Shealy was tremendous. No worries and painless.”