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At Sawarne Lumber Co., located in Ferndale, Wash., Dave Chalmers, log supply manager and Carlos Furtado, sales manager, spend a few moments inspecting timbers.

At Sawarne Lumber, It’s All About Quality

By Wayne Miller

Ferndale, Wash.—For 66 years, Sawarne Lumber Co. has focused on the singular mission of producing quality Cedar products at its two remanufacturing facilities.

The firm’s Richmond, B.C., facility is situated on 15 acres while the Ferndale plant is located on 14 acres.

Sawarne Lumber buys and then custom-cuts logs at three primary sources: Mainland Sawmill, S&R Sawmill and Delta Cedar, all of which are located within close proximity.

 “We usually do a 50/50 mix selling products from our own log production,” said Carlos Furtado, sales manager, “and purchasing raw materials from outside sources in order to make our product.”
Archie Rafter, Carlos Furtado and Ryan Furtado, who comprise Sawarne’s sales team, are pictured at the firm’s head office.

Sawarne partners with Delta Cedar Sawmill when producing custom cuts. Furtado explained, “Delta Cedar is a small log mill that cuts what we need for our beveled programs, channels, v-joints and the pattern products.”

S&R mill cuts long timbers for Sawarne up to 40 feet in length, while Mainland handles other large log production for the company. Sawarne purchases logs on the open market prior to contracting for service with the sawmills. After the lumber is cut to Sawarne’s specifications, it is transported to the firm’s facilities to be manufactured into the finished products.

All orders that must be kiln-dried are delivered to Sawarne’s Richmond plant, which operates four kilns that dry approximately 2 million board feet per month. Two of the units are double kilns that are capable of drying 100,000 feet each. Sawarne also uses two single kilns with a drying capacity of about 50,000 feet each.

Typically, the firm produces approximately 25 million board feet per year.
The Richmond plant stays busy producing decking.

Sawarne offers a wide array of Cedar products, noted Furtado, “Because we gear our production to our customers’ needs. We are customer-friendly and we produce lumber according to customer specifications. We believe our customers appreciate that we can supply the tallies they need. We’re like a one-stop shop where they can come and order what they need.”

Sawarne’s variety include: 2x2 through 2x12; 4x4 through 4x12; 6x6 though 6x12; big timbers, such as 12x12; and specialty timbers, such as 16x24 S4S and rough.

Specialties products such as bevels, channels and balusters are produced at the firm’s Ferndale location.

“We also have the occasional piece that architects may specify,” Furtado said.

He added that it’s not uncommon for one of their delivery trucks to leave the plant loaded with up to 15 dif
Les Laventure, shipping supervisor, and Nick Di Fabio, shipping coordinator, set-up and monitor computerized shipping schedules.
ferent items. The same scenario holds true for shipments from Sawarne via rail or van.

Overseas customer orders receive special packaging prior to leaving Sawarne, which uses pieces of plywood beneath each bundle in the order of pattern stock, channels, bevels or v-joints, for example, to protect them from dampness or damage from forklifts. The company protects the sides of the shipments with a layer of plywood as well.

Furtado explained that Sawarne often packages in two ways. Items such as beveled products may be packaged per length, or they may be placed in a nesting package of mixed lengths. The method of packaging is often based upon the origin of the customer. For example, whether the customer is a distribution center that will sell to a retail yard or a staining operation dictates the packaging method Sawarne employs.

“We have a lot of flexibility when compared to the major mills that are production oriented,” Furtado said. “They produce the lumber and then go out and find customers to buy it. We produce specifically for each individual customer.”

Sawarne’s flexibility extends to its inventory for logs and lumber, which varies month to month according to
Mary Kay Phelps, shipping/office manager at the Ferndale facility and Jay Quinn, who handles receiving, discuss logistics with co-worker Ted Allen.
the volume of customer orders, as well as general market demand.

Furtado pointed out that demand for Cedar is typically dictated by the season. “Everyone wants Cedar in the spring,” he said. “To handle the high volume season, we are working on some partnerships with other operations to run some of the wood at their locations. However, the product must still meet our quality criteria and our grades have to be based on what we want them to be. So we have a quality control man who goes to our partnering locations to make sure they maintain the same high quality of product for us.”

Thanks to its quality control program, Sawarne has recorded very few customer complaints during its history. Today, if a customer does register a complaint, the firm is capable of tracking the order in one business day to uncover the root of the problem.

“If there’s a complaint, there’s a reason for it, and we want to find that reason as quickly as possible,” Furtado said. “Since we are completely computerized, we are able to track from the raw material to where the product was produced and how it was tallied. We also keep a hard copy of all o
Sawarne’s Richmond, B.C., facility is situated on 15 acres.
ur tickets. So if a customer phones us with a complaint, the first thing we ask for is that ticket number. That number enables me to start tracking on the computer, and normally we can have an answer for the customer within the same working day.”

The bulk of Sawarne’s customers are distributors in North America, but they also sell to customers in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Australia and New Zealand.  

“Everything in this business is about partnerships,” Furtado said. “The common goal is to produce quality products to go to the marketplace.”

Archie Rafter, a member of Sawarne’s sales team, has more than 20 years experience in the wood industry. He currently services customers for the firm worldwide, particularly to offshore markets, as well as stock distributors in the United States. Rafter views Sawarne as an integrated company capable of offering a wide array of services to its customers.

“Sawarne is unique in that it’s vertically integrated due to its relationship with logging groups, its ability to supply wood products and its good relationship with primary producers,” he said.
The Ferndale, Wash., Sawarne plant is located on 14 acres.

Rafter and Carlos Furtado are two members of Sawarne’s three-man sales team. All are responsible for buying and selling.

Ryan Furtado, the third man on the sales team, has been with the firm for two years and primarily services customers who purchase specialty timbers, long columns and custom made fencing. He’s learned quickly that the company does not compromise on quality. Ryan was hired to sell to the local market, but now sells to customers all over North America. 

“Every person you talk to about Sawarne Lumber is going to say—first and foremost—that this company is about quality,” Ryan said. “In my two years here, I’ve not had a single complaint about product quality. Quality is the number one priority with us, and it’s a strong tradition handed down from the owners, the Sangara family.”

In addition to Carlos Furtado, Ryan Furtado and Archie Rafter, key personnel at Sawarne Lumber include: Da
This order of paneling is being tally packed at Sawarne Lumber Co.
ve Chalmers, log supply manager; Don Smillie, quality supervisor; Nick Di Fabio, shipping coordinator; Les Laventure, Richmond shipping supervisor; Mary Kay Phelps, Ferndale shipping/office manager; and Jay Quinn, receiving.













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