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Feature Story

The sales staff at Bennett Forest Industries, located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is comprised of Jim Scharnhorst, vice president of sales and marketing; Julie Lenius, sales assistant; Pat Carper, sales representative and traffic manager.

Bennett Forest Gains Product Flexibility With New Mill
By Terry Miller

Grangeville, Idaho—Bennett Forest Industries is a family business with deep roots in the Idaho lumber industry, and a company that has been built on tradition and legacy spanning 67 years and four generations. Richard G. Bennett’s father, Guy, entered the lumber business in 1939 manufacturing fruit boxes for his 7-acre orchard. This modest beginning evolved into a lumber manufacturing firm owned by Richard and his family with an annual production in excess of 180 million board feet.

To remain a long term supplier to its customers, and to become a more efficient producer, Bennett Forest Industries made a significant investment in its future and in its customers by building a sawmill in Grangeville, Idaho. This facility was built at the site of the existing planer mill to provide a one-site integrated operation. The sawmill was constructed from the “ground up” with the latest technology in lumber manufacturing, which increased annual production from 80 to 180 million board feet.     

According to Scott Atkison, chief executive officer at Bennett Forest Industries, the company outgrew its previous sawmill in Elk City, Idaho, which was built in 1958 and upg
Rough lumber enters dry kilns at Bennett Forest Industries.
raded in 1993. 

“Our former sawmill wasn’t in a location where we could invest a significant amount of capital and expect to earn an appreciable return on our investment,” Atkison said.

Bennett Forest invested more than a year analyzing where to build before breaking ground in Grangeville in February, 2005.

“We began the process with a resource study,” Atkison said. “Eric Selander, who is an engineer and our company adviser for the past 15 years on various projects, developed a general layout and design of a sawmill that would give us the flexibility of production that we needed, given our diverse resource. Eric was the on-site project engineer and Dave Paisley, our former mill manager , came out of retirement to be our construction manager.”

In February 2006, Bennett Forest Industries began production in its new sawmill. Long logs are singulated at the mill with a Comact wave feeder and then debarked through a Nicholson A-8 27
Cants travel through production in the new Grangeville sawmill.
-inch single ring debarker fed by a Nicholson centering in-feed conveyor. The logs are then scanned and optimized by a Porter RT3 log optimization system and bucked by a VFM traveling saw system. Bucked logs are fed into a USNR extended length in-feed and are scanned and optimized again by a Porter RT3 canter optimizer, which controls USNR twin vertical bandmills. The side flitches are either dropped to a USNR twin horizontal resaw or to a USNR five saw board edger. The center cant is sent to a USNR virtual pivot 6-inch gang edger. Cants that are sent to the gang edger are scanned and optimized again by a Porter RT3 gang optimizer. A USNR trim/sort/stack line completes the process.

The company has improved the quality of the wood from its trim saw by installing trim saws with a hollow point grind, which eliminates the feathering effect commonly found at the end of a piece of wood that has traveled through the end planer.

Jim Scharnhorst, vice president of sales and marketing explained, “We have four basic species groupings and have the ability to manufacture three product categories in our new mill—random-length dimension, precision end trim studs and random length boards from very high quality logs with an average diameter of 9-˝ inches.”

Species manufactured at the Grangeville mill include Douglas Fir, White Fir, SPFs, Ponderosa Pine and Lodgepole Pine. Douglas Fir, White Fir, and SPFs are available in 2x3, 2x4, 2x6 and 2x8. The mill has the capability to produce 2x
Debarked logs moving to the twin band saws at the Grangeville site.
10 and 2x12 on a limited basis. In addition to Select Structural, Standard and Better, No. 2 and Better, and low grade items, Doug Fir products include lam stock, machine stress rated lumber and studs. White Fir production is comprised of random length lumber and stud products, as well as decking, Select Structural, No. 1 and Better, No. 2 and Better, Standard and Better, utility and economy. White Fir stud production features a premium, no prior stud product in 116-5/8, 104-5/8, 96-inch and 92-5/8 and 84-inch. All White Fir products are grade stamped White Fir and contain no Hemlock.

Bennett Forest’s Ponderosa Pine product line includes 4/4 Select, Shop and Common boards. These products are available in single length, full units and half-packs.

Lodgepole Pine is grade stamped SPF and manufactured into random length dimension products, includi ng MSR, Select Structural, No. 2 and Better, No. 3 and No. 4. Bennett limits the wane in MSR products to the No. 1 wane rules.

Scharnhorst said the new mill enables Bennett Forest to have a “more consistent supply of products than we have had in the past. Our annual production will be about 80 million board feet of White Fir, 60 million board feet of Douglas Fir, 20 million board feet of Ponderosa Pine and 20 million board feet of Lodgepole Pine. All Bennett Forest products are kiln-dried, heat treated, SFI certified and end-branded with the Bennett logo.”

“Most of our customers use both random length dimension and studs,” he added. “We actually designed th
Paper wrapped units of finished product are ready to ship.
e new sawmill with log bucking optimizers and a gang edger that will produce no-wane 2x4 and 2x6 in stud lengths, as well as those lengths most desired by our customers in random length lumber tallies.”

Bennett Forest also remodeled its planer to accommodate a PET machine at the end of the new automated grading system that has the capability to trim any stud length requested by a customer.

 “The Bennett brand has a strong reputation and is known to represent quality products and service,” S charnhorst said. “We strive to enhance our brand with consistent quality and outstanding service to our partner accounts.”

The company ships 50 percent of its production via Union Pacific and Burlington Northern rail services, and the remaining 50 percent is shipped by truck. The sales people can quote delivered prices via UP or BN railroad origins, or by truck to any destination in the United States.

The Bennett sales team of Scharnhorst and Pat Carper offers more than 60 years of sales and management experience. Carper is also responsible for coordinating rail transportation. Scharnhorst oversees sales, promotion and marketing. Julie Lenius serves as sales assistant and handles rail car issues, trucking, order processing, as well as reception for the sales department.

Bennett Forest Industries has built its reputation through the years not only on the manufacture of quality products, but also on the ability of its 140 employees to respect and respond to customer requests.
Bennett Forest Industries’ premium MSR lumber.

“We strive to serve our customers,” said John Bennett, chief financial officer at Bennett Forest Industries. “There has always been a consistent desire to have quality equipment in our mills and quality people who are very skilled at what they do.”

The Bennett management team includes, Atkison, Bennett, Scharnhorst; Russ Larkin, controller; Cliff Greenhaw, quality control supervisor; Dick Wilhite, production manager; Mike Wilsey, planer superintendent; Paul Gilmore, maintenance superintendent; Oley Knight, shipping supervisor; and Rick Farmer, sawmill foreman.
 Bennett Forest Industries is very active in various industry associations, and is a member of the North American Wholesale Lumber Assoc., the Inland Lumber Producers and the Western Wood Products Assoc., which is the firm’s grading agency.

In the future, Scharnhorst said the company will continue to increase production in the new mill, while listening and reacting to the changing needs of its customers.

“By building the new mill, Bennett Forest Industries has made a significant investment in our future by making us an efficient, low cost producer. It is also an investment in our customers by providing them with a broader, flexible product line and long term partner,” Scharnhorst said.

Phone: 208-664-3299 









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