MacDonald & Owen - Competitive Edge By Bridget McCrea
MacDonald & Owen Lumber Co. is located in Sparta, Wisconsin.
Sparta, Wis.—At MacDonald & Owen Lumber Co., Inc., the customer's bottom line is of utmost importance. Whenever the manufacturer of hardwood lumber and dimension parts can make a beneficial difference in that aspect of its customers' business, in fact, it gains a competitive edge over other manufacturers in the industry.
“Our primary goal is to make our customers profitable in the marketplace,” said David Twite, owner and president, who adds that flexibility and customization help MacDonald & Owen achieve that goal. “We customize any product to our customer’s requests so that every customer gets precisely what they need, with an eye on helping them succeed in a competitive marketplace.”
The company’s advanced inventory system also allows it to easily assemble mixed truckloads, which frequently ship the same day that they are ordered. Furthermore, its outbound freight department excels at getting materials to customers on exactly the right date.
“This enables our customers to carry less inventory," said Twite, "and improves their net profit."
David Twite, owner and president, purchased the company in 2001.
Using all domestic species and many exotic species, MacDonald & Owen bought about 17.2 million board feet of lumber in 2005, and expects to use up to 20 million board feet this year, primarily in 4/4 to 8/4. Primary species include Hard Maple, Cherry, Red Oak, Hickory, Walnut, Birch, White Pine, Ash, Aspen, White Oak, Soft Maple, Yellow Poplar, Basswood, Mahogany, Beech, Sapele and Jatoba. Key products manufactured include glued panels, squares (glued-up or solid), mouldings and dimension parts.
MacDonald & Owen’s average green inventory ranges from 700,000 to 1.3 million board feet; kiln-dried inventory varies between 3.3 million to 4 million. The manufacturer purchases its raw goods from local sawmills, and from large hardwood companies based nationally. It sells its products both domestically and overseas.
“Export sales are becoming a larger part of our business,” said Twite, who joined the company 22 years ago and became a partner 10 years ago.
Founded in 1968 by Archie MacDonald, the firm started small, supplying just a handful of accounts with wholesale lumber products. In 2001, Twite bought out the
The firm proudly stamps its logo on lumber before shipping it out.
founder and reinvented the company, nearly tripling sales and increasing its workforce to a current 28 persons.
Along the way, the company has stuck with MacDonald’s founding principles of honesty, integrity and quality. To set itself apart, the firm has become a partner to its own customers by helping them achieve their own success through its “boutique” approach to a commodity-based business. Rather than wait around for its cabinet and furniture maker-customers to request new products, for example, MacDonald & Owen takes the initiative and develops them first.
The company, which sells finished hardwood flooring directly to the public with factory-direct pricing, also spends time serving customers who are too small to purchase from larger lumber companies, and goes the extra mile to fill customer orders as quickly as possible.
MacDonald & Owen uses a Newman EPR-short stock planer for finishing products.
MacDonald & Owen moved to its current location in Sparta’s industrial park four years ago, and has been adding onto the new facility nearly every year. It currently occupies 70,000 square feet of space and is planning a 30,000-square-foot expansion for this year. The new space will house a line of blanks for cabinet and furniture makers.
Named to Wood & Wood Products list of top 100 fastest growing woodworking companies in 2005, the company is headed up by Twite; Greg Blomberg, quality control/production manager; and Clint West, sales/business manager. In its plant, which runs 55 hours a week, the company uses a Newman EPR-short stock planer and a Timesaver planer-sander.
Lumber is purchased green or kiln-dried and brought to one of the company's processing facilities. Designated amounts of kiln-dried lumber are then brought to its main Sparta location for further processing.
“Some lumber is shipped directly to customers when it is ready,” said Twite, “while other lumber is kept for ‘rush orders.’”
Shipping via rail, truck and container, MacDonald & Owen offers specialized lengths, on-time delivery, wrapping and
The operation is currently in a 70,000-square-foot plant, and plans on expanding another 30,000 square feet this year.
packaging and other services that meet customer requests.
“Our ability to meet all of our customers’ needs has really helped our company grow over the last few years,” said Twite, who adds that most of the firm's current customers were referred by other, satisfied clients, who include manufacturers and woodworkers based worldwide.
A sales team that is based in Sparta also fuels MacDonald & Owen’s growth, which Twite said is largely based on fulfilling customers' needs for quality products in a timely fashion.
“The lumber industry is not complicated: customers need quality products on time,” said Twite. “It’s just that simple.”
In sticking to that philosophy, Twite said MacDonald & Owen will often go the extra mile to fulfill a customer's need, even if it means working late hours, or on weekends, to make it happen.
“Our sales team has been known to come in at 2 o'clock in the morning to help in the production department,” he said, “just so we can get an order out on time.”
MacDonald & Owen markets its products both domestically and overseas.
Going forward, Twite expects the company to continue working on that customer-centric philosophy, while at the same time grappling with the continued growth that it has experienced over the last few years. The company adds new customers daily, for example, and has had to ramp up purchasing and production to meet those demands.
“Fortunately, with all the expansions that we have completed we are able to meet these challenges and welcome even more growth,” said Twite. “Now, we're focused on strategically growing our existing business, while also replicating our business in other regions.”