Softwood Forest Products Buyer


Feature Story

Vince Mast is director of sales and marketing at Caffall Bros. Forest Products Inc., headquartered in Portland, Ore.

Caffall Bros. Makes Dramatic Changes; Expands Production
By Wayne Miller

Longview, Wash.--Doug Caffall realized five years ago that his company needed to make dramatic changes, and after 85 years of business, Caffall Bros. made changes that not only benefit the company, but ultimately its customers, too.

"In 2001 and again in 2004, we did a forestry study and saw that Western Red Cedar timber harvest was depleting very quickly," said Vince Mast, sales manager at Caffall. "During this same time, finished product fencing prices on Western Red Cedar were going down as traditional large distribution customers were pressuring the market with cheaper substitute vendors and alternate and/or substitute products."

An influx of foreign products also added to the instability of Cedar in the lumber market. 
During this four-year period Cedar log procurement was becoming harder to source economically. Caffall Bros. was forced to expand its geographical area of log purchases from within a 120-mile radius outward to 400 miles or more.

Dennis Reinwald is the assistant sales manager for the company.
"After much research and thought," Mast said, "Doug decided it would be more profitable for his company to manufacture green Douglas Fir studs, which the company markets as 'Gold Label™ ™studs."

"Longview is situated in the middle of the prime growing area for Douglas Fir specie and offers the highest quality fiber from rotationally harvested timber," Mast explained. "With Cedar, you don't replant after harvesting as you do with Douglas Fir. We're now thinning Douglas Fir forest in 25 years, harvesting in 45 years, and we are located in North America's ideal climate for trees to grow on this sustainable yield basis."

According to the company's website, Douglas Fir is a majority of the available, harvestable forest species, and it is renewable and sustainable for generations to come. The latest generation of forest timber resource--primarily Douglas Fir-- is emerging in Washington State due to Timber Investment Management Organizations (TIMO's) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT's), and is contributing to a "green wave" of available raw material. 

"Caffall Bros.' new mill in Longview, Washington is situated right in the heart of this viable and abundant timber resource," said Mast.
Anne Caffall Tippets is a sales representative at the firm.
When the decision was made to convert the existing mill into a stud mill, there were no other companies producing studs in Longview, Wash. Mast said being the first in this beneficial location to manufacture studs was important to the company.

More than 50 percent of the green Douglas Fir lumber that Caffall Bros. mill produces is No. 1 and Better, or Select Structural grade. This is due to the age of the trees, diameter and length of the logs, and the ideal growing conditions in the region. This fiber source is the perfect material resource in both visual appearance and structural values for precision end-trimmed (PET) engineered walls and roof structures.

Construction on the new mill began in December of 2004, with the installation of a new debarker and optimized merchandiser complex, containing a Nicholson A-8 31 automatic debarker installed with a Linden quadrant feeder, tandem 6-foot Linden bucksaws, shifting log stops and MPM bucking optimization.

Today, the mill operates with 23 to 24 people on one shift, only about one-third of the mill crew previously needed. While the old mill was capable of producing up to 120 million board feet of Cedar per year, the new mill is capable of manufacturing more
Caffall Bros. offers Gold Label™ studs manufactured at the new stud mill in Longview, Wash.
than 200 million board feet per year of Douglas Fir, and this is the new focus.

Mast said that in the last year, the industry has seen the price of Douglas Fir domestic sawmill logs approaching the export log prices. During this period, many domestic sawmills were bidding on export logs in order to have enough logs to keep operating at near 100 percent of production capability. With rising prices of fuel and increased transportation costs to haul the logs greater distances, Caffall Bros. has an advantage over many competing sawmills due to their proximity to the log supply.

The operation in Longview is located right off I-5; is near the Port of Longview for easy access to waterborne freight; and has its own rail spur for access to both the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern railroads, all of which allow timely and efficient deliveries to customers.

Of course, the change in production did force Caffall Bros. to reluctantly stop doing business with previous Cedar customers, but Mast said the company's long-standing reputation for integrity, honesty and quality made selling to new markets and new customers a fast and easy transition.

"We were very sad to lose our loyal Cedar customers. However, Caffall Bros.' reputation for quality, service, and attention to detail; and the strength of our core
The Gold Label™ studs are produced from Douglas Fir, which is a majority of the available, harvestable forest species.
values have aided us in our segue to supply our new customer base with the highest quality Douglas Fir product we can, and the changeover has gone very smoothly," Mast explained.

Finding new customers has not been a problem, he said, saying that the company has had great success with buyers approaching them to purchase the new products.

Today, the company offers a line of green Douglas Fir "Gold Label™ studs" in 2x4, 2x6, 3x4 and 3x6 up to 10 feet in length. The facility is WWPA certified and carries grades in light framing, stud, structural light framing and structural joists and planks specifications.

Manufacture of the new product began in November of last year, and since then, a lot of "tweaking" has been done in order to improve efficiency and volume of production at the sawmill, according to Mast.

Caffall Bros. sawmill is equipped with a new 5-foot tandem twin Salem horizontal band mill, a USNR optimized gang edger a nd a Comact twin-band primary mill breakdown Sharp chain system.

The planer mill complex is directly con
One of the company’s experienced shipping staff loads studs onto a 73-foot, center beam rail car.
nected to the sawmill by a TECO three tray deep pile sorter and the primary equipment includes a new four-head Coastal planer, DTEC BioScan grading and trimmer optimizer system, Newnes pusher lug, 30 bin sorter, Newnes stacker and Itipak high-speed strapping system.

Directly adjacent to the planer outfeed, all wood is treated with an anti-mold, anti-stain, with a brightener for 180-day retention.

"We were able to close down the Cedar business cleanly," Mast stated. "We are very thankful, because this was a spirit-driven changeover. A lot of planning and prayer went into this decision. We have been very pleased with how it has all turned
Caffall Bros. is the first mill in the Longview area to produce studs.
out so far!"


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