Post Falls, Idaho—Idaho Veneer Co. has played a dominant role in the veneer market for more than 50 years by mastering communication with customers, both domestically and internationally, and by embracing technological advancements.
The company’s stellar reputation is a result of its ability to produce top quality Idaho White Pine items at its facilities in Post Falls and Samuels, Idaho, according to John Malloy, who serves the company as president of sales and marketing, and represents the second generation in the family-owned business. Joe Malloy, representing the third generation, is the firm’s sales executive for all veneer products.
Both men are committed to the company’s core mission, which is to provide customers with superb products and service.
“We want to make sure that our customers get the best value. That’s our top priority,” John said. “If they always receive the best value possible, then they can keep their customers happy. In return, they come back to us for more products. It’s good customer retention, and that’s how you build a business.”
Pictured with the newly installed Marunaka slicer are: Stan Kanellos, supervisor; Jerry Sharp, superintendent; Bob Lackey, sales representative; Burt Onstott, supervisor; and Joe Malloy, sales executive for all veneer products.
John noted that “Idaho White Pine is the whole reason for this facility since day one.” Yet he’s quick to add that Idaho Veneer also manufactures products comprised of Red Alder, Douglas Fir (Oregon Pine), Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, Ponderosa Pine and Sugar Pine.
“We produce a significant amount from these species for a variety of customers, including manufacturers of paneling, furniture, moulding, millwork and doors and windows,” he said.
John added that the company “follows trends set by the furniture manufacturing industry, and the largest volume of this industry has gone to the Pacific Rim. In particular, our largest furniture market is in Asia and involves China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and to a lesser degree, Thailand.”
Additionally, Idaho Veneer ships to the United Kingdom, France, Australia and Singapore. It has successfully built rapport with many clients in those countries through agents who represent Idaho Veneer on a daily basis.
“Many of our agents are in those countries all year. They fluently communicate in the various language
Some key personnel at Idaho Veneer include: Sherri Poldervart, seated, traffic coordinator; (from left) Rick Palmiter, lumber sales manager; Lisa Hutcheson, administrative assistant; and Kay Wheeler, accounting.
s, which is critical to building a successful export business,” Joe said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t deal directly with a foreign customer. At Idaho Veneer, we’ll talk to anybody and will help them find the right product at the right price. But our agents make a huge difference for us. They are involved to whatever degree is necessary and represent us fully.”
Idaho Veneer has long-standing relationships with several agents. For example, the company has conducted business through Canal International in Asia for a couple of decades. Specifically, Frank Chu, who is in Taipei, and his brother Steve, who lives in Los Angeles, serve as the firm’s agents. Due to their respective locations, Idaho Veneer benefits from the agents’ efforts both in Taiwan and China. David Lim and Lillian Foo, of Sim Hup Hin (PTE) Ltd. in Singapore, have been instrumental in developing the Southeast Asian market.
“These agents can visit the markets in those countries within a days’ travel,” John said. “They speak the native language there and fully understand the veneer industry. A reliable relationship with good agents is vital.”
Not only does Idaho Veneer invest wisely in its offshore relationships, but it also invests in technology
Paul Boucher peels 1/10-inch Pine veneer for structural components in windows and doors.
that enhances production at its facilities. For example, a German-manufactured Reform grinder, which was installed at the Post Falls site, has significantly impacted production. The machine not only grinds and hones the knives for the firm’s 225-inch and 213-inch units, as well as the 8-foot slicers, but also sharpens an array of chipper knives and hog knives.
“We believe the grind of this knife is so important in the production of quality veneer that its initial expenditure was justified,” John said. “This unit will serve us well for many years.”
All slicers used at Idaho Veneer are manufactured by Capital. In Samuels, Idaho, the sister company, CedaPine Veneer Inc., operates one 8-foot slicer. The Post Falls’ facility utilizes four veneer slicers. Two 8-foot machines manufacture 8-foot veneer for the panel market while two 17-footers cater to orders from furniture plants, although these also work well for the panel industry. Seventeen-foot veneer can be cut in half to make two panel-length veneers. The long slicers offer more flexibility and higher production.
Additionally, a Marunaka was recently installed at Idaho Veneer. It serves a different function from the Capital slicers, yet both machines have enabled the company to improve its products.
Ann Thomas feeds veneer into the Cremona press dryer.
“The Capital is a fast machine that helps us keep our cost per unit down,” Joe said, “while the Marunaka helps us focus on specialty pieces, such as doors and windows, and achieves a very high yield.”
The Capital units often produce long veneers for furniture mills, which, according to Joe, “typically cut the incoming veneer into shorter pieces. The longer the veneer they have as a raw material, the better their yields.”
John added that, “one of our more important markets now is veneer used for wrapping mouldings and window and door parts. Many of these products are wrapped in long lengths. We can give the window manufacturer an inventory of 14- or 16-foot long veneer, and they can custom-cut mouldings, casings and other items.”
Regarding the Marunaka, John explained, “It is perfect for specialty orders and improves our yields. We can slice the residual ‘backboards’ from the Capital slicers and recover every bit of veneer from that expensive raw material. It also allows us to execute small runs of special thicknesses. By using it, we minimize the potential for excess inventory, and that carries over to the customer. They can order the volume they actually need.”
Randy Aresvic and Randy Rubringer use the 16-foot Monguzzi guillotine to clip long veneer to specific widths for customers who need a high degree of accuracy when they wrap it on wood, aluminum, vinyl, fiberglass, or other substrates to make parts for doors, windows, and specialty items.
Idaho Veneer now has the capability to produce products ranging in thickness from 1/100-inch to 1/8-inch. The majority of customers’ orders, noted Joe, typically fall between 1/50-inch and 1/16-inch.
In addition to the usage of sophisticated technology in the production of its veneer products, the company’s two mills depend upon the expertise of its 150-person staff.
“These people are not only workers. They are craftsmen,” said John. “Many of our people have been with the company 25 years or more. They know exactly how to slice the wood. They know how the wood reacts when it is heated up, as well as when we dry it. We have a very seasoned manufacturing force that takes a lot of pride in what they are creating.”
Their creations are now visible on the company’s reconstructed, updated website, www.idahoveneer.com, that features a lumber and veneer catalog.
“This website is of particular value both domestically and overseas,” Joe said. “Our agents can sit in an office and walk a customer through the website. For example, we regularly have inquiries from China or Indonesia rega
Larry Zimmerman shows a finished 50" x 99" sheet of Knotty Cedar veneer before stacking it in a crate destined for the hardwood plywood industry.
rding the species of our wood and the grade. In the past, language has been a barrier in fully assisting the customers overseas. This website gives them not only written information, but visual information as well. We can reach the world with this tool.”
Idaho Veneer Co. has been an active member of different professional associations through the years, and it remains a committed member of the Hardwood, Plywood and Veneer Assoc. today.
Other personnel at the company, in addition to John and Joe Malloy, include: Pat Malloy, president of operations; Dan Malloy, president of administration; Rick Palmiter, lumber sales manager; Bob Lackey, sales representative; Jerry Sharp, plant superintendent of Idaho Veneer Co.; Dan Campbell, plant superintendent at CedaPine Veneer Inc.; Sherri Poldervart, transportation coordinator and Lisa Hutcheson, receptionist.
“We’re not a big company,” Joe added. “But what gives us the edge over larger ones is our ability to avoid all the bureaucratic snags associated with production, product development and so forth, which can result in delayed shipments. We have direct lines of communication among management, sales and production. We are able to zigzag through the market, so to speak, and to quickly make changes as needed. It’s all about providing consistent quality service and products to the customer.”
Ron Smith programs the computerized setworks on the Reform grinder to initiate the grinding sequence on a 225-inch slicer knife.