Pewamo, Michigan--It’s not unusual for a company to create a mission statement, catch-phrase, or perhaps, what one would call a slogan. However, finding that rare company that does not use that slogan as simply lip service is another story. Devereaux Sawmill Inc. is a family-owned company located in a rural agricultural town in central Michigan. While it is the largest business in the area, it has a very short and simple slogan: Committed to our customers, resources, and our future since 1967. While utilizing the latest technology, modern equipment, new facility expansions and the most up to date manufacturing processes, Devereaux Sawmill continues to demonstrate their commitment to their customers, resources and their future.
While recognizing a changing pattern in the requirements by many of its customers throughout the hardwood lumber industry, Craig Devereaux, vice president and sales manager for the firm, helped design and manage the development of the organization’s most recent facility expansion- a 45,000 square-foot building that houses processi
The firm’s management team includes: Rob Kukowski, sales/green procurement; Rob Paradise, sales shipping; Craig Devereaux, vice president/sales manager; and Todd Smith, general manager.
ng equipment for kiln-dried lumber. In one building, the company is now able to process lumber from the kilns to a “ready for shipment” state for its customers. The new building also offers many new value-added products and services for customers as well.
“The new building gives Devereaux the capability to offer a truly service-oriented product,” Craig stated. “Rather than manufacture a product and then look for a market to move that product, we ask our existing customers to look to us for their more unique needs. Whether it is an end user who manufactures cabinets, or a distributor who is looking to build their sales with our Michigan hardwoods, we ask the buyers for these organizations to challenge us with their toughest inquiries. If we can help solve problems for our customers, we will help them build their business and our own in the process.”
Within the new facility, lumber is first taken off sticks through an automated process involving a tilt hoist and sticker collection system. An inspector can send specific boards through a by-pass that skips the planer for customers who stil l prefer to buy their lumber in rough form. All other boards go through a Newman S-382 helical head planer with carbide “Maple cutter” blades. A second grading station is designed to provide inspectors with a consistent working environment, which includes controlled lighting and grading chains that are designed with elevated angles so defects can be seen accurately throughout the boards.
Kevin Irwin manages the operation of the firm’s new kiln-dried processing facility. The new facility contains 110 sorting carts, which allow for more color sorts, length and width sorts and proprietary grades.
After the grading station, a grade mark reader detects fluorescent crayon markings that indicate grade, color and remanufacturing requirements. A scanner will also measure the length and width of each board to create a tally of the already graded product. Stock will go through a second precision double end trimmer if any additional cuttings are necessary.
Stock can also be “tippled out” at this point in their system and sent to a Mereen- Johnson rip saw.
“While utilizing a light curtain scanner, this remanufacturing line allows us to not only improve the manufacture of our random width and length product, but also to offer our many value-added services such as SLR1E, gang ripping an d ripped to width products,” Craig said. “By mixing multiple customers’ order requirements, we can create cutting solutions that give us greater yields at lower costs to our customers.”
Many other value-added products are offered by Devereaux. In looking to build their business around their customers, the organization developed numerous
Devereaux Sawmill recently added new dry kilns, built by KDS, bringing total kiln capacity to 800,000 board feet and giving the company an average of about 1.4 million board feet of kiln-dried production per month.
proprietary grades in addition to the standard National Hardwood Lumber Assoc. grading guidelines, such as “Cabinet” and “Rustic” grades. The company also offers other color selected products to include items like “Wheat Red Oak,” “Calico Hickory,” “A-Panel Hard Maple” and others. To better equip the company for all of the various sorts, the new building houses an extended pull chain that allows for up to 110 sorting carts.
“We are pretty excited about what the flexibility the new building gives us when processing lumber. We even designed the building to be able to drop the back wall, extend the chains, and add more carts, for future expansion if necessary,” Craig added.
Craig explained, “Of all of our products that we offer through the new facility, perhaps the product that has been most popular is our pulled-to-width sorted Hard Maple. I’m sure this has been most successful because Hard Map le is our company’s largest volume specie.”
Currently, production of Hard Maple makes up over 50 percent of the firm’s total production. The remainder of Devereaux’s production is divided among other species including Cherry, Hickory, Ash, Soft Maple, Walnut and Red and White Oak. The company has 15 kilns, bringing total kiln capacity to 800,000 board feet. They currently average about 1.4 million board feet
Another new addition at Devereaux Sawmill is the company’s remanufacturing line. The new equipment allows the company to provide services such as SLR1E, gang ripping and ripped to width products.
of kiln-dried production per month.
In addition to staying committed to its customers, the company is very focused on its commitment to their surrounding resources.
“The capital improvements we have made to the mill give us optimum log recovery with increased production,” said Todd Smith, Devereaux’s general manager. “By maximizing the potential of each log, our company is able to stay extremely competitive with landowners when procuring only the best available standing timber.”
The saw cab is equipped with an INOVEC Stereo Scanner with 3-D scanning and optimization. The headrig in the mill is a 6- foot McDonough Band double cut head saw. The Cleereman carriage is set to a 17-degree slant allowing for logs to avoid unnecessary handling and abuse that could lead to potential “bruising” within the lumber. The mill produces about 31,500 feet of green grade lumber per day.
Respect for the resource is apparent throughout the facility at Devereaux Sawmill. Here logs are stored under sheds equipped with sprinkler systems in an effort to keep logs “under water” during the warmer months of the year.
The sawmill building turns logs into lumber that is ready for kiln loading all under one roof. Fast processing of species such as Hard Maple is crucial to maintain the brightest white in appearance. The sawmill building houses a band headrig, resaw, optimizing edger, two grading stations, a 60-bin sorter and an industrial stacker.
The company’s respect for their resource is apparent in other ways as well. Logs are stored in a veneer cooler kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, until shipped to their customers. A unique practice at the company is that grade logs, which will feed directly into the mill, are stored under sheds that offer shade onto the logs. The sheds are equipped with a sprinkler system that keeps logs “under water” during the warmer months of the year.
In addition to the extra care of its logs, the organization keeps green lumber such as Red and White Oak stored under one of four air-drying t-sheds. The sheds hold up to 2.5 million board feet of green Oak.
The use of T-Sheds for Red and White Oak is another practice that Devereaux Sawmill follows to maintain the highest standards in product quality control.
“I think our dedication to reinvest within our company shows our commitment to make sure we don’t take any shortcuts in handling this valuable resource,” Smith said.
“I believe it is apparent to our customers that we are committed to our future, which provides each of them with a sense of stability when looking at us as a long-term supplier and ‘partner’ to their company,” Craig explained. “We firmly believe in always shipping a quality product and always doing what we say we are going to do.”
The company ships its product via flatbed trucks, containers and rail cars. Craig estimates that 75 percent of the shipments leaving the company are mixed loads, with more than one species or grade on them. The company’s base of satisfied customers extends through numerous markets to include the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and the Middle East and include buyers from industries such as flooring, cabinets, furniture, millwork and more.
Devereaux Sawmill employs about 50 people. Whereas the Devereauxs believe that each and every employee are key to the company’s success, employees to be noted include Bruce Devereaux, president; Brandon Devereaux, vice president/timber procurement manager; Craig Devereaux, vice president/sales and management; Joel Smith, veneer sales/log procurement;
Devereaux Sawmill ships its products via flatbed trucks, containers and rail cars. While the majority of the company’s business is in the U.S. and Canada, the organization has an extensive base of international customers.
Beth Smith, office manager; Kevin Irwin, operations manager; Todd Smith, general manager; Rob Paradise, sales; and Rob Kukowski, sales.
Devereaux Sawmill is an active member of several organizations to include: the National Hardwood Lumber Assoc., the American Hardwood Export Council, the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Assoc., the Hardwood Manufacturer’s Assoc. and the American Forest and Paper Assoc.
“At Devereaux Sawmill, we take great pride in our history, which is based on integrity, hard work and great people,” according to Craig. “Our history itself says a lot about our commitment to our customers, our resources and our future.”