Purchasing manager Peter de Graauw and managing director Martijn van den Berg make up the management team at Marius van den Berg Hardwoods in Woerden, Holland.
Walk A Mile In Marius van den Berg’s Wooden Shoes By P.J. Costello
Woerden, Holland—When many people in the United States think of Holland, they think of windmills, tulips, and, of course, wooden shoes. While they remain a charming icon of Dutch culture, wooden shoes offer no future to the American timber exporter.
However, an array of products that demand use of American timber exists, and the number of importers striving to meet that demand is growing. One such company, located in Woerden, Holland, is Marius van den Berg Hardwoods, a family-owned and operated business founded in 1952. In support of Marius’ first business venture, the van den Bergs established a sister company, Martimber Wood Products, that trades on international markets.
Beginning as a sawmill, van den Berg Hardwoods has emerged as a primary source of American hardwoods for the furniture and flooring industries throughout Europe. The company’s present managing director, Martijn van den Berg, began overseeing the business after his father, Arie, retired in 2005. Arie still resides on the property though, in a nice, but typically modest, home that
The company uses Poplar in manufacturing.
fronts the Old Rhine River and is flanked behind by the company’s facilities (complete with a rooster). Occasionally, he provides the sound advice that only his years of experience could produce. Founding father Marius passed away in 1982.
As a result of stiffening competition and outsourcing, van den Berg Hardwoods began exporting in 2004 under Martijn’s guidance with the goal of becoming a substantial force in the international timber trade. Van den Berg Hardwoods currently exports to 35 countries, many of which are new European Union members from Eastern Europe.
Marius van den Berg Hardwoods continues to grow at a rate of approximately 15 percent per month, a direct result of Martijn’s exporting initiative. You won’t find him influenced by negative mentalities, and he is even less inclined to be waiting around for the other wooden shoe to drop. This is the way of cool, intelligent leadership.
Visitors to van den Berg Hardwoods’ 35,000-square-meter property are struck by the incredible cleanliness and meticulously stacked lumber. Not so much as a splinter can be found on the floors of the climate-controlled storage buildings, warehouses or kilns. No debris of any kind can be found on the lot, and grass and bushes are t
The 35,000-square-meter property has been noted for its cleanliness and meticulously stacked lumber.
rimmed to perfection.
Purchasing manager Peter de Graauw explained, “The guy responsible for keeping the yard nice is our yard manager, Joop Vonk, who lives in a detached home on the grounds. The whole idea of keeping a nice yard like it is today was initiated by Martijn's father, Arie van den Berg. Before Arie took over from his father there was a sawmill, and the yard was very muddy and messy. Arie closed down the sawmill and started to build the yard the way it is today. A funny story is that a few years back, Arie had a sports car and he was driving on the yard. When he came back to the office he said, ‘the street-sweeping machines must be broken because I can hear small stones under my tires driving on the yard’.”
Considering the volume of traffic and inventory, it’s easy to see how dedication to neatness and organization helps the van den Bergs maintain a successful business. The company imports dozens of species of varying grades from all over the world. Efficiency in operations is the norm, as van den Bergs stays open an average of 40 to 42 hours per week and employs just 19 people.
A breakdown of North American imports follows: Black Cherry, super prime, prime, (FAS) 4/4, 5/4
Kilns at the facility are automatically temperature and humidity controlled, but are more often manually regulated.
, 6/4, 8/4, 10/4, 12/4, 1x4", 3x3"; Walnut, super prime, prime, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 8/4, 10/4, 12/4, 1x4", 1x8"; White Oak, super prime, prime, limited, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 8/4, 1x8/9/10/11"; Yellow Poplar, prime, 4/4, 6/4; Red Oak, prime, 1x8"; Hard Maple, prime, 4/4, 8/4, 1x3", Brown Maple, prime, 1x8"; Red Alder, prime, 4/4, 6/4, 8/4; White Ash, prime, 1x8".
“After arriving by sea container to one of the world’s largest ports (Rotterdam), the timber is brought directly to the property for inspection, drying, and further distribution,” de Graauw said. “The company works with more than 200 sawmills worldwide to get the best hardwoods for furniture, flooring, and other interior industries. Most of the hardwoods from European, African, Asian, and Brazilian sawmills are bought fresh, transported to Woerden by sea and land and then dried in the kilns. The total capacity of the kilns is about 900 cubic meters, or 212,000 board feet. Our annual turnover is more than 42 million board feet, of which 40 percent, or nearly 17 million board feet, is hardwood imported from the United States. We maintain stock levels of 14.1 million board feet.”
A modern, well-maintained fleet of delivery trucks is essential in serving the needs of customers.
Marius van den Berg Hardwoods is certified under KEURHOUT, a national certification, and Martimber Wood Products is certified by Forest Stewardship Council. Both organizations support the use of sustainable wood products.
Not surprisingly, the sales and administrative staffs play important roles in helping Martijn realize his far-reaching ambitions. Purchasing, logistics, and sales systems are fully automated and ensure that deliveries are made on time, often within 24 hours. The sales staff has immediate access to stock availability and purchasing is timely.
With seven warehouses, 10 kilns, administrative and sales offices, two homes, and ambitious importing goals in place, it is obvious that the fundamentals of neatness, organization, vision, and wisdom combine to make Marius van den Berg Hardwoods a substantial force in the international timber industry.
Tel: 011 0348 688641
The administrative/sales staff keeps busy to ensure high quality service and products.
Sales and warehouse personnel maintain close communication to verify an incoming shipment for quantity and quality.