Crewe, Va.—In 1998, Trout River Lumber LLC opened its doors as a manufacturer of Southern Yellow Pine pattern stock. The company’s leading edge philosophy has also led it into a pre-finished flooring manufacturer that is regarded as the leader in the industry.
“We have always been proud to be known as the lumber guys,” said John Barber, the company’s managing partner. “We have taken steps to broaden our scope since our operation began, and we are excited about the new paths we are planning to take.”
Barber’s core belief that hard work pays off has been the catalyst for Trout River’s growth. The company markets products (both lumber and prefinished flooring) to at least 50 wholesale lumber and flooring distributors nationwide, and is developing a national distribution marketing plan to solidify its partnership with a Brazilian mill that is installing a $5 million engineered flooring and prefinishing line.
Pictured is composite moulding in a paint booth.
In addition to producing its standard Pine patterns and prefinished flooring, Trout River’s services include custom milling, resawing, end-matching, ripping, cut-to-length and packaging. The firm also has priming capabilities.
Among the many products manufactured by Trout River Lumber, Southern Yellow Pine flooring is the company’s hottest seller in different grades and styles. A favorite among Trout River customers is The Virginia Plantation Collection, which consists of seven styles of prefinished flooring made from Southern Yellow Clear Pine and Knotty Southern Pine. Stains and finishes vary on these products.
“Where as the Pine pattern industry has not had a new pattern to introduce in the last 100 years, the prefinished flooring industry is like the clothing industry, we get to introduce new products every year,” said Barber.
Another top seller at Trout River Lumber is the Longleaf Heart Pine flooring, which is available in ¾-inc
Plastic wrapped flooring is ready to go at Trout River Lumber.
h solid. The company produces more than 250,000 square feet per month of Heart Pine products.
Newest among the firm’s flooring products is the ½-inch engineered Reclaimed Antique Heart and Australian Cypress. Not only is there a cost savings in some items, engineering a product helps to solve many common installation issues. These floors can be nailed, glued or floated. This allows installation above grade, on grade and below grade.
The considerable amount of production achieved at Trout River is not only due to its capable staff of 47, but also due to the sophisticated technology used by the company. For example, six high speed moulders create the patterns incorporated in the firm’s various styles, including innovative PVC mouldings and profiles. Five units are Wadkins moulders and one is a Weinig.
Other equipment involved in production include a Doucet end matcher and a Systems TM Optimizer. Also, Trout River’s gang rip is capable of producing a 12-inch multi-cut at 270 feet per minute, and a state-of-the-art plastic wrapping machine enables the company to provide much desired shrink wrap packaging.
Trout River Lumber packages all standard Pine patterns in plastic wrap, and prefinished flooring orders
Composite mouldings in process at the Crewe, Va., facility.
are boxed prior to shipping. The operation has the capability to either package orders in its own brand, or facilitate private labeling for the customer.
“We do everything possible to do what the customer wants and needs,” Barber added.
Trout River Lumber is spurred to the main line of Norfolk Southern Railroad and also ships via truck in full, mixed and less-than-truckload (LTL) quantities. The latter mode of transporting has proven very beneficial for both Trout River and its customers.
Barber explained, “LTL has proven successful for our prefinished and nested flooring products, because it is clean, easy and quick for us and the customer. Here’s an example of how we’ve made it work. We have the ability to LTL to the distributor, or their customer, very economically because of the manner in which the product is packaged. Some of the product will be in nested units and some in boxes. You can’t LTL 16 feet of lumber very well, but you can LTL boxes and units that are seven feet.
“This service is something that we like to do,” he continued. “We have generated about $2 million per ye
A system TM Optimizer infeed chain is used at Trout River Lumber.
ar in additional sales by doing LTL. This helps us, and it helps our customer get the product to his end-user. Even customers who are not flooring distributors, but are lumber customers, occasionally call us and say they have a customer that has an order for 350 feet of Pine. We can easily put that amount of Pine on the LTL truck directly to that customer.”
The open-minded manner in which Trout River’s leadership accepts potential business opportunities recently helped Barber define the next step in the company’s immediate future.
“We are in the initial stages of developing a plan for worldwide partnerships,” Barber said. “If we decide that a partnership with a manufacturer makes sense to us, we will study that manufacturer’s particular production capabilities to determine the best way to incorporate it into the Trout River product line.
“We’ve gone from nothing to about half a million feet per month in prefinished Pine by being open to possibilities. This is what works for us.”
Trout River Lumber’s current domestic market for prefinished flooring products stretches nationw
Trout River’s facility features state-of-the-art in-house tooling capability.
ide, and its primary customer base consists of flooring and wholesale distributors.
An evolving segment of Trout River’s business consists of exported and imported products. The company’s current emphasis is on providing both solids and engineered products to export customers. Its import emphasis rests on the recently formed partnership with a mill in Brazil, with whom Trout River Lumber will manufacture engineered flooring made of such species as Jatoba and Ipe.
Trout River Lumber LLC is active in various professional organizations, including the North American Wholesale Lumber Assoc., National Wood Flooring Assoc. and the Southern Forest Products Assoc. (Southern Pine Council).
Respectful of the past, yet focused on the future, Barber said Trout River Lumber’s overall goal is to “stay ahead of the curve in the lumber industry. The cost of being ahead of the curve is that we can put a lot of effort into a project that might not pan out beneficially for us.
Chris Twiford, of Trout River Lumber’s sales team, is standing beside a flooring display. Trout River Lumber LLC is located in Crewe, Va.
“Yet, the reward of staying ahead of the curve is the ability to be a market innovator, and really come up with profits that make sense. That’s the path we plan to keep Trout River Lumber on.”
John Barber is managing partner at Trout River Lumber.