J D Lumber Diversifying To Serve A Wide Range Of Customers
Lance Hubener is a sales representative and David Slaughter is the owner of J D Lumber Inc. in Priest River, Idaho.
Priest River, Idaho—Until two years ago, J D Lumber Inc., was primarily a green mill. In late 2001, though, the company decided to invest time and money into building dry kilns, adding a boiler and rough tray sorter to work with it. They subsequently installed four 120-foot-long double-track dry kilns that can handle 1 million feet of lumber. At the same time, they installed a new debarker and a second headrig. The headrig and debarker came online in 2002, and the dry kilns began operating in April of 2003. It was a busy time.
Just two years into its dry operations, J D Lumber is already reaping rewards of its business shift.
“It’s not to say that we won’t ever run green again,” said David Slaughter, sales manager, but so far this has been a solid investment, production, and marketing decision. A member of North American Wholesale Lumber Assoc. and the Inland Lumber Producers, J D Lumber was founded in 1980 as a Cedar manufacturer. Except for Cedar, they run primarily 2x4’s, with about 10 percent 2x6’s. The species breakdown is 50 percent Doug-Fir/Larch, 45 percent Northern Idaho Hem-Fir, and 5 percent Western Red Cedar. Lengths run from 3-foot to 20-foot. Slaughter said the firm expects to add ESLP to its product lineup in the near future.
The Doug-Fir/Larch and the Hem-Fir products are primarily for framing, and are sized-dry.
“The Cedar remains rough and green,” Slaughter said. “We generally grade it out rough and sell it to Cedar remanufacturers,
Kiln-dried, Standard and Better Hem-Fir is ready for shipment by truck to rail reload.
who make bevels, decking and paneling.”
At J D Lumber, logs are purchased from private and public timberland within a 120-mile radius of the facility. Once they arrive at the mill, a battery of equipment including headrigs, resaws, edgers, trimmers and the planer, transform the logs into lumber. Lumber is tallied and paper-wrapped before being loaded and shipped and/or taken to their rail spur about five miles up the road.
This company cultivates long-term relationships with their clients - wholesalers and wholesale distributors located throughout the country - partnering with their customers, rather than just being a supplier.
“We take care of our customer’s customer by working in the relationship as the third member of the team,” Slaughter said. “If someone has a big job to bid, we work with our customer and his customer to see if the three of us can work together to get the business.”
Over 80 percent of J D Lumber’s shipments go by rail, with the bulk of the products delivered to companies that are west of the Mississippi River. Slaughter, along with Lance Hubener, handles the sales and marketing for the company. Joann Brower completes the team, handling invoicing and shipping. A fourth generation lumberman, Slaughter joined the company in 1983, after 12 years in the wholesale and wholesale distribution segments of the industry. Hubener came to the company in 1994.
In 2001, J D Lumber added four 120-foot-long double track dry kilns that can handle 1 million feet of lumber.
“We understand what good office wholesaling and distribution is all about,” Slaughter said. “Lance and I both have been on that side of the fence, and as a result we only sell through wholesalers and stocking distributors. We appreciate the job the wholesaler has to do in representing manufacturers, and we depend on them to represent J D Lumber and act as an extension to our marketing.”
Situated on 60 acres of completely-utilized land, J D Lumber employs 225 people who work two 8-hour shifts daily. The firm is always on the lookout for ways to increase efficiencies, and relies on dedicated staff and employees to create and capitalize on those competitive advantages.
Slaughter said the company has experienced steady growth over the last few years, despite market conditions in 2004 and 2005. Its wholesaler customers have kept demand steady, he added, in both up and down markets.
“When the market turns south, we rely on our strong relationships with customers to keep them coming back again and again,” Slaughter said. “We value those relationships, and rely on them to keep our company growing in the right direction.”