Jonathan (Jon) Fox is owner and president of Foxwood Inc., a hardwood concentration yard in Trevilians, Virginia.
Global Market Exists For Foxwood’s Appalachian Hardwoods By Gary Miller
Trevilians, Virginia—Jonathan (Jon) Fox’s background in the lumber industry is as interesting as the history of the acreage on which he built his company. Foxwood Inc., in fact, operates on a 100-acre site in an area where the largest all-cavalry battle (called the Battle of Trevilians Station) was fought over control of the Virginia Central Railroad tracks during the Civil War.
Today, Fox is appreciative of the fact that rail service has remained intact through the years in Trevilians. He prefers to ship lumber to West Coast customers in containers via rail, which he has found to be more cost effective than other modes of transportation. However, many of his domestic customers receive their lumber from several reliable contract trucking companies that Foxwood Inc. uses.
Appalachian lumber is covered and kept safe from the sun and inclement weather as it air dries in Foxwood’s yard.
For 24 years Fox has been involved in the lumber industry. In 1991 he founded Foxwood Inc. As owner and president of Foxwood, he is committed to a singular goal: to provide customers in North America and overseas with quality Appalachian hardwood lumber exactly as specified: on grade; on time; and at a fair price.
Fox said, “We’re not the largest hardwood concentration yard, but we are very good at what we do. Even though we have a limited production, the loads of lumber we prepare for our export and domestic customers are very well graded, well put up, and we represent the lumber honestly. In other words, we are small enough to care, but large enough to give our customers what they need.”
At its yard, Foxwood Inc. has dry kilns, a warehouse, indoor storage, an air drying lumber yard and a building that houses the grading chain. On-site lumber inventory is consistently maintained at an average of 1.5 million board feet.
Edwin Temple applies wax end-coating to a stack of lumber.
Fox keeps overhead at a minimum and service at a maximum by operating Foxwood Inc. very efficiently. For example, Foxwood’s kilns are a design obtained from kiln-direct.com. Niels Jorgensen and his father, Vaulde, incorporated European technology in a design that is more energy conscious than their American counterpart.
When heating with an energy source such as propane, “you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. No pun intended,” Fox said.
Foxwood’s kilns, complete with a heat recovery system, are constructed to make the most of the energy that fuels them. In fact, the kilns’ walls are eight inches thick and the insulation in the walls carry a high R-rating, which effectively holds the heat within the kilns.
“We insulate our kilns with a much higher R-rating than what you’ll buy from a kiln manufacturer these days,” Fox said.
At Foxwood Inc., Fox buys most of his firm’s lumber green and it is shipped by truck to his yard from sawmills within a 200-mile radius of his operation. Foxwood’s lumber inspectors inspect each piece when the lumber arrives at their facility. The
Billy Grubbs expertly grades green 4/4 Red Oak at Foxwood.
main species the firm provides its customers include: Red Oak; White Oak; Poplar; Soft Maple; and Hickory. The operation markets #2 common lumber and higher grades (4/4 through 8/4 thicknesses) to their clients, which includes firms such as the manufacturers of hardwood mouldings, cabinets, flooring, caskets, furniture and other items. The company sells its lumber in straight and mixed container loads and in truckloads, and in less than truckloads.
As soon as the lumber is end-trimmed, an end coat of Anchorseal™ sealant, made by U•C Coatings, is applied to the ends of the lumber at Foxwood. After the lumber is sealed, it is carefully placed on the air-drying yard where it will air-dry for at least 90 to 120 days. A cover that is placed atop each stack of lumber protects it from damage by the sun and inclement weather.
Later, the lumber is moved to the dry kiln, where it is dried to 6 to 8 percent moisture content. After kiln drying, the lumber is inspected, again, and packaged for shipment.
Foxwood ships its Appalachian lumber to customers in all areas of the United States and exports to countries that include: England, Spain, South Africa, China, Belgium, Ireland and some Scandinavian countries.
Foxwood Inc.’s lumber that is prepared for an export customer has an end tally count recorded after banding and color-coding of the lumber. The end coding is done to each customer’s specifications. At this point, Fox said, items earmarked for export are packed into containers for shipment via tractor trailer to the particular port that the firm’s custom freight forwarder
Foxwood’s expansive property allows the company to maintain a lumber inventory that averages 1.5 million board feet each day.
arranges for the container or containers to be exported from.
Regarding his employees, Fox said, “I consider all my employees key people. A lot of them have been with me for quite awhile, such as my inspector Billy Grubbs. He’s the most consistent lumber grader you’re ever going to meet. Billy’s consistency is a lot like eating at McDonald’s. You know the food will taste the same there time and time, again.
“At Foxwood, we’re similarly consistent. If you buy our lumber once, you’re going to be so pleased with your order that you’ll become a repeat customer. Each load will be exactly as you specify time after time.”
Running an efficient yard is critical to maintaining consistency in lumber production at Foxwood. Fox credits yard manager and forklift driver Tommy Bartys for his hardwood concentration yard operating smoothly.
“I’ve never seen anybody that can think as far ahead as he does,” Fox said. “He’s just a very capable individual and has done an extremely good job for my company.”
Another key person is Randy McKinney who runs the end trim saw. “Randy has been with me for 20 years now and I can count on one hand the days he has missed work,” Fox said.
“We have several loyal and hard working employees from Mexico at my operation,” Fox said. “I often eat lunch with them and, through listening to them, I’ve learned to speak Spanish fairly well. When I’m driving my car, I list
Jeff Solinger, sales, and Jon Fox depend on all the company’s employees to ensure that business runs smoothly.
en to tapes that help me learn to speak Spanish better as well. Another hobby I have, besides learning Spanish, is working at my woodworking shop at my house.
“I also scan the land around here with my metal detector and I’ve found several articles dating back to the Civil War, like bullets, artillery shells, a “Bowie” knife, buttons, brushes and a lot of other things.”
All totaled, Foxwood employs 11 people in various positions. Jeff Solinger assists Fox with the firm’s lumber sales, and he keeps track of the company’s lumber inventory on computer and end tally machines from Forestry Systems Inc., located in Summerfield, North Carolina.
Before Solinger joined Foxwood, he performed numerous jobs at hardwood sawmills and concentration yards. Later, after he graduated from the NHLA grading school in Memphis, Tennessee, he started grading lumber for various lumber companies, ran hardwood concentration yards, and traveled on the road buying lumber.
At Foxwood Inc. Solinger helped Fox build his dry kilns and trained the company’s employees to do several jobs in case they have to fill in for someone who may get sick and miss a day at work.
Solinger said, “I’m very proud of the fact that I implemented a safety program here at our company. I meet with our employees once a month and talk about how we can perform our jobs in a safer way. Since we’ve implemented the safety program we’ve had no lost time due to accidents.”
Tommy Bartys, yard manager and lift driver, stands by one of several Hyster forklifts used at Foxwood, which have the capacity to lift 18,000 pounds, 19,000 pounds and 21,500 pounds respectively.
Solinger’s proud of his father, Larry, who started the Redi•to•Use hardwoods program for Weyerhaeuser in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
Solinger, whose career in the lumber industry spans 25 years, joined Foxwood three years ago. He said, “Basically, Foxwood Inc. is a young company that’s growing and doing what needs to be done to stay on top of the changes within our industry.”
Jon Fox was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and spent his childhood in the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina. While he was in high school, he moved with his family to Connecticut, where his father worked as a furniture designer for Hitchcock Chair Co.
Later, Fox went to college in Hamden, Connecticut where he studied marketing and business. After attending college for four years, he graduated with a degree in marketing. After college he worked for an insurance company for a short time. Then he joined his uncle’s lumber business, called Germain Timber Co., headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Fox said, “My initial job at Germain Timber Co. was assisting a fellow named George Koneski at a tie yard in Keswick, Virginia, near Charlottesville. After Koneski left the company, I managed the tie yard in Keswick and noticed the tie business was really slowing down. So, early in my career, I took a short course in lumber grading and started buying hardwood lumber from small sawmills in the area. We outgrew our tie yard in Keswick,
Foxwood has found container shipping dependable and expedient as it ships to ports worldwide.
so Germain Timber established a larger yard in Gordonsville, Virginia, where we continued to buy hardwood lumber to process and ship out to customers. After working for my uncle for 10 years, I left to start my own hardwood lumber company.”
In 1991, Fox negotiated a lease with the former Madison Flooring Co., located in Madison, Virginia. He started a small hardwood lumber concentration yard within a portion of their company’s yard. Within a few years, the successful growth of Foxwood Inc. enabled Fox to leave the Madison location to establish his operation at its current site.
“We have plenty of room now to expand and add to our operations,” Fox said. “I want to take this opportunity to thank our domestic and overseas customers for their business. Whenever we can be of service, please contact us because we’ll do an excellent job for you.”