Family-owned Sawmill in EHC
By Lindsay Kirkland
Schairer Brothers Saw Mill is one of the last few saw mills located in South Jersey. It has been family-owned and operated since 1936.
Schairer’s specializes in Atlantic white cedar used for fencing, siding, shingles, decking and tongue and groove. They also sell white pine for mantles and oak for trailer decks.
Their best years were in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, when the boat industry was thriving with everything from rum-runners to luxury yachts. Many big boat builders bought their wood from Schairer Brothers, 254 S. Bremen Ave. in Egg Harbor City. That is, until fiberglass came along, and completely changed the industry. Also during that time, most homes had either cedar siding and cedar shingles. Then asbestos and vinyl came along, again eliminating the need for cedar. Sadly, the need for Atlantic white cedar use faded quickly.
Schairer Brothers has gone from its glory days, decades ago, to maintenance services like tree trimming, tree removal, and stump grinding offered today.
Atlantic white cedar is now primarily used only for custom items like mantles, balusters, fences, and mailbox posts. In addition to flitch, clapboard and plain cedar shakes.
Schairer Brothers is still hanging on though, and are proud of the part their family business has played in the building of Coastal and Southern New Jersey.
Joe Wade, of Mays Landing, the oldest and one of just two employees, says “We now get our wood from Chatsworth. There is no local stuff left; but we do provide custom work, delivery, and advice. We’re not going green; we’ve always been green.”
As you enter Schairer Brothers on Bremen Avenue in Egg Harbor City, you will see an old deserted home, falling apart. Much of the siding has fallen off and windows are left broken. But in 1936, it was the pride of the family, with cedar shakes and cedar siding.
Wade is also proud that they used to have two very large saws: one is still in use, the other is in a museum at Batso Village.
He says that Schairer Brothers, “Is the only family saw mill still operating that specializes in Atlantic white cedar in all of New Jersey.”
The business and saw mill seem closed as one drives by on Bremen Ave. But the smell of cedar still envelopes the air on some mornings reminding us of days gone by.