Currie, North Carolina—Two simple words, proud and responsible, are often used but are hard to follow. However, at Inter-Continental Hardwoods, those two words not only define the company, but are also the backbone.
The company, only 10 years old, has grown and expanded over the past decade with a reputation for on-time delivery and customer satisfaction.
ICH, located in the small town of Currie, 25 miles from the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, is a major importer of tropical hardwoods in the United States and Canada.
“We stock over 45 species of hardwood lumber,” said Tom Herga, president. “Some of the species we stock include Aformosia, African Mahogany, Aniegre, European Beech, Cedar, Iroko, Jatoba, Sapele, Utile, Wenge and Zebrawood, to name a few.”
Shown here is one of two warehouses on the property at ICH that stocks over 45 species of hardwood lumber.
“We carry many species due to the flooring market,” Herga said. “Consumers want all kinds of different species for flooring, so the import market is really expanding.”
To keep pace with demand, ICH is building a new 20,000-square-foot warehouse for lumber storage. The addition brings total warehouse capacity to 60,000 square feet.
“One of the reasons we need more warehouse space is because we still have a big demand for just-in-time shipments,” Herga stated. “We can guarantee shipments of almost any species and thickness within three days delivery apart from the West Coast.”
That is pretty remarkable, but something ICH has built its business on.
Domestically, ICH ships products all over the United States and Canada. Shipments to the West Coast are handled by piggyback containers, otherwise, contract trucks handle the freight movement. Herga said most shipments are full truckloads, although the company is willing to accommodate any order, regardless of size.
The company’s second warehouse is also used for storing lumber.
“We are also flexible for our distribution yard business,” said Jesper Bach, vice president. “They can get flooring, decking and many different species of wood all on the same truck. It is very common for us to mix loads.”
The company also has its own brand of flooring—Four Diamond Floors.
“It is manufactured in South America and we offer it in unfinished and finished in 3/4-inch solid,” Herga said. “There are six different species in that line.”
ICH sits on about 38 acres and has 320,000 board feet of kiln capacity, along with milling facilities. A 1,200-square-foot addition to the offices was recently completed. Many of the species the company handles were used throughout the addition.
The bulk of the imported products arrives through the Port of Savannah.
“The logistical advantage here at ICH has also been a key to our success,” Herga said. “Dealing with suppliers in remote and less-regulated countries can prove difficult for many companies, but we have the experience, relationships and deep cultural knowledge to ensure that transactions flow smoothly, delivery times are met and customer requirements are fulfilled.”
Due to a high demand for just-in-time shipments, ICH is building a third warehouse, which will bring total warehouse capacity to 60,000 square feet.
The firm is also FSC-Certified because the staff at ICH understands the importance of sustainable forest management for the industry and for the continued provision of hardwood products to the world.
“Our commitment to the environment and the development of renewable resources is a source of pride for us,” Herga said. “It’s a core value, not a requirement.”
ICH was formed in 1995 and is a member of the Hinrich Feldmyer/tt Timber International Group (HIF/tt), headquartered in Switzerland and Germany. The group of companies has been involved in the forest products business for almost 100 years and are utilized by ICH as a form of broad sourcing power for customers.
“The group owns sawmills in Congo, Gabon, Western and Eastern Europe, as well as purchasing offices in South America and the Far East,” Herga said.
“We also visit our suppliers often,” Herga said. “Jesper and I travel frequently.”
The firm also recently added a 1,200-square-foot addition to their offices.
In addition to Herga and Bach, Kiry Laufer also handles sales. Laufer is in charge of the flooring division as well. Other key employees in the staff of 40 include Mary Jones, treasurer and accountant, and Scott Russell, yard manager.
Herga is a 20-year veteran in the imported hardwood business and is on the board of directors for the International Wood Products Assoc. Bach joined ICH in 1996 and was promoted to vice president in 1998.
ICH is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Assoc., Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Assoc., the National Wood Flooring Assoc. and the International Wood Products Assoc.
The company has come a long way in just 10 short years.
“When we first started, about 75 percent of our business was Genuine Mahogany. Now it is about 10 percent and diminishing, so we diversified our product base, customer base and species base,” Herga said.
With diversity and a commitment to being responsible, ICH should be around for many years to come.