Super Senior: Ray Colton

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 4:58 PM EST
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PITTSFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - When the weather dips, Ray Colton’s business heats up.

Vermont has a rich tradition of heating homes with wood. In the early ‘80s, Colton is credited with helping to change the industry. He was delivering green wood to a Killington condo that he says was going through wood “like no tomorrow.”

“I said, ‘I got to ask, how do you burn this stuff?’ And the guy said, ‘No problem. We go ski in the morning, fill the oven right up, turn it on high, get home at night, and we got nice dry wood!’

Reporter Joe Carroll: Sounds like a fire hazard to me.

Ray Colton: A fire hazard and expense for somebody.

Colton decided to do the same but on an industrial scale. “I think most people thought I was nuts anyhow thinking about it,” he said. Now, Colton Enterprises processes up to 7,000 cords of kiln-dried wood a year.

Reporter Joe Carroll: How much is a cord going for now?

Ray Colton: $400, picked up here.

Joe Carroll: Yikes! It’s gone up, huh?

Ray Colton: Well, I can give you my oil bill. You want to see how that’s going!

Colton says other people have taken his idea but he’s the king of the wood pile in the Green Mountains, even selling wood throughout New England. “You can’t hardly sell wood if it’s not kiln-dried,” he said.

“We started, basically, with nothing,” said Lynda, Colton’s wife of 54 years. “He used to split with a little homemade wood splitter.”

“We have two, wood chip burning boilers,” explained. He says it takes close to three days to get the moisture out.

Although the winter months are prime time for the business, in November there’s still time for another tradition -- deer season. “I got to tell you about these, I shot all three of these. That one there, my wife got,” Colton says, showing off the family trophies.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You bagged a deer too, huh?

Lynda Colton: Well, Mr. Suburu committed suicide on the hood of my car.

Lynda survived unscathed and was allowed to keep the carcass. “Everybody who was working here loaded into two trucks and a car and we went and got him,” she said.

Colton’s deer camp is high up in the hills of Pittsfield. “Clears your mind. Sit in that swing on the porch there, have a cold one,” he said.

On weekends, the bunks are filled with family and friends.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You know deer hunting, especially with kids, is fading away.

Ray Colton: Tell me about it... I don’t like it but I don’t know what you’re going to do about it.

Hunting will be at the crack of dawn, so after a quick meal, it’s back to the mill. “I don’t think he’s capable of slowing down,” Lynda said.

Yankee ingenuity that’s cut above the rest.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You’re kind of a wood tycoon.

Ray Colton: I guess.