Softwood Forest Products Buyer


Feature Story


Mary Melvin helped her husband, Gordon, start Mill Direct Sales Inc. in Port Jefferson, N.Y. She currently serves as secretary/treasurer of the company, and Gordon serves as president and owner.
Mill Direct Sales, Hard Work Is The Key
By Terry Miller 

Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.—According to Gordon Melvin, president and owner of Mill Direct Sales, his company’s philosophy is “Doing what we say we are going to do.”

“We are reliable—we’re straight forward. And with us, what you see is what you get,” Melvin said. “We’re not afraid of long-term commitments when it come to our mills or our customers. The customers that we do business with, we keep.”

Over a span of 30 years, Melvin has been involved in the forest products industry, starting when he graduated from the College of Forestry in Syracuse in 1972. Opportunities for young, unexperienced foresters were very limited, both in the private sector and with the federal government. So, he went to work for a retail lumber dealer until he was contacted by one of the large conglomerates in the forest products industry. This particular company, which Melvin worked at for many years, was fully integrated from manufacturing logs into lumber and distribution, as well as paper products. From there, he went to work for a company that had mills and more than 20 retail lumber yards. Melvin was involved with wholesale distribution and mill sales until he opened his own company, Mill Direct Sales, in 1990.

The company only dealt in North American species for the first few years of operation, but around 1994, Melvin began to branch out, importing various species from around the world. Today, he offers customers a wide range of North American and imported species from New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil.

According to Melvin, 50 percent of the company’s wood products come from North America, and the other 50 percent is
John Schroeder markets Spruce and Pine, and handles the computer network.
imported from all over the world.

The North American Species that the company distributes includes kiln-dried SPF in 2x4 through 2x12; finger jointed White Pine both primed and raw in 1x4 through 1x12 and 5/4x4 through 5/4x12; Eastern White Pine S4S and pattern—all grades. Mill Direct also offers 4/4 through 8/4 Furniture grade and Shop grades and 4/4 through 8/4 panels in FJ Clear or Knotty; Spruce boards in 1x2 through 1x12 No. 2 Common and No. 3 Common; and Western Red Cedar fencing in 1x4 and 1x6 in various grades. The firm also offers Southern Yellow Pine for flooring, ceiling, stepping and all patterns and thicknesses.

The imported species that the company carries are Radiata Pine, C and Better in 1x4 through 1x12 and 5/4x4-inch through 12-inch in 8- to 16-foot lengths. Interior and exterior jambs, mouldings, doors, as well as finger-jointed imported Pine, primed and raw, fascia boards 4/4 and 5/4/ Finger-jointed Russian Pine in various dimensions. Mill Direct also offers Australian Cypress flooring, Select Knotty and Brazilian Jatoba cherry flooring and prefinished and raw Kempas from Asia, as well as imported plywood in Radiata and Elliottis Pine, Lauan and Meranti in various grades.

Mill Direct Sales also works in conjunction with Taylor-Ramsey in Virginia to offer customers a full line of treated Southern Yellow Pine products in 2x4 through 2x12 No. 1 and No. 2 Common, boards and decking. Melvin said Taylor-R amsey is able to put out a consistently high-quality product load after load.

Mill Direct is also a strong player in Eastern Hemlock, which Melvin said many sawmills shied away from or would only run at certain times of the year. The firm offers Hemlock timbers up to 12x12, dimension lumber 2x4 through 2x12 ran
Carole Wolf serves as Melvin’s assistant and Charlene Seymour is in charge of human resources and accounts receivable and payable.
dom length and some boards.

According to Melvin, the firm’s customer base is made up of distribution yards, large retail accounts and industrial businesses, such as window and door manufacturers. 

“We are able to plan ahead by six months for our customers, which enables us to lock in prices, which is important to many of our industrial accounts,” he stated.

The company has several strategically placed sales offices located across the country. There are two offices in California, with one in San Diego and one in Redding; two offices in Oregon, located in Salem and Wilsonville; one sales office in Greensboro, N.C.; another location in Dallas, Texas; one in Cobleskill, N.Y.; one in Old Bridge, N.J.; and the headquarters in Port Jefferson, N.Y.

To accommodate our customers, Mill Direct Sales carries large inventories at various warehousing locations, such as Baltimore, Md., and Martinsburg, W.Va., where Melvin said the company maintains a significant inventory of primed and raw finger jointed boards, as well as custom milling facilities to remanufacture products, should a customer need a
Chris Melvin, son of Gordon and Mary Melvin oversees purchasing and sales of products out of Europe.
special pattern or custom size.

A strong part of the business at Mill Direct is container shipments, which the company moves through Charleston, S.C.; Houston, Texas; Oakland, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; and Portland, Ore. Mill Direct Sales also moves shipments by truck, offering mixed loads to their customers.

“We try to duplicate our inventories sold on direct shipments at our warehouse locations, so that we can offer our customers back-up stock and can also handle mixed truckloads for warehouse buyers,” Melvin said. “As far as imported wood products, we can offer mixed loads coming out of Charleston to any customer east of the Mississippi River within two or three days.”

Melvin added that making his customers happy is one of his main goals and that, along with offering a wide variety of products, has been a large part of the success of the company. Working with a countless number of sawmills across the country and internationally, the feat of providing good customer service has been a long road.

Melvin founded Mill Direct Sales in 1990, and began working with manufacturers of whom he had gained trust through his almost 20 years marketing wood products.

“When I started this company, there were only three of us here,” he explained. “We only had about six mills we were doing business with. We eventually put together enough business to add staff. We would go to work at 7:00 a.m., do the mail and banking at noon while we had a sandwich, work until 6:30 p.m., have dinner, and then go back to the office and do correspondence and invoicing until almost midnight. And we did that for about a year.”
And, over the past 15 years, the hard work and dedication of Melvin, and his wife, Mary, who helped him start the business, paid off. Today, Mary serves as the secretary/treasurer. Among the numerous employees at the company
Erin Cook, daughter of Gordon and Mary Melvin, handles sales of Eastern White Pine and Hemlock, as well as offshore finger joint products for South American and European Spruce sales in the southeast.
are: Ed Lynk, vice president of the imported international division, who oversees purchasing and coordinates imported products going through customs; Chris Melvin, who oversees purchasing and sales of products out of Europe. Marketing studs and random length dimension, Erin Cook, Melvin’s daughter, handles the sales of Eastern White Pine and Hemlock, as well as offshore finger joint products from South America and European Spruce sales in the southeast; John Schroeder deals with purchasing and sales of Eastern Spruce; and Roy Yafchek does sales and purchasing of West Coast species—mainly rail cars of dimension and studs. Bob Bratton and Steve Lovelace handle specialty products. Dave Brunz multi-tasks with Western Red Cedar, imported Spruce and boards. Steve and Larry Bluena oversee the company’s Radiata plywood program.

Mill Direct Sales is a member of and supports the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Assoc., the North American Wholesale Lumber Assoc. and the Assoc. of Millwork Distributors.

Melvin attributes the success of his company to many things, but he said that hard work and a little creativity got him through the hard times.

“You’ve got to be creative and you have to be hard working,” he explained. “There is absolutely no substitute for hard work and perseverance. A reliable supplier is doing what you say you are going to do and honoring your word, and that is what we try to do.”

Tel:  631-642-2800


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