Missoula, Mont.—Dave Tripp, owner and president of Tripp Lumber Co., is candid about the success of his 21-year-old remanufacturing plant located here.
“At Tripp Lumber, once we get customers onboard with us, we keep them. We value that personal relationship with them,” Dave said. “Success in this business hinges on providing quality products and being able to adapt to changes in the industry. But most importantly, the lumber business is about people. It’s about service and treating people with respect.”
Commitment to solid relationships with customers is a goal originally set for Tripp Lumber by Dave’s father, Don Tripp, who introduced his family to the lumber industry in the 1950s when he transported logs. While a teenager, Dave joined his father in the business, and by 1977, they had expanded their services from three trucks to 50. In the 1980s, as the lumber industry endured a stifling
Tripp Lumber’s production manager, Jason Beaudoin, helps with quality control.
recession, the Tripps forged new paths as businessmen. Don Tripp continued transporting logs while Dave pursued inroads into lumber production, which led to the formation of Tripp Lumber Co.’s remanufacturing plant in 1985.
Tripp Lumber’s products have evolved through the years, and now the company specializes in several specific items, such as quality log siding. Even television stars have taken notice of Tripp Lumber’s superb craftsmanship. For example, Marg Helgenberger, who portrays Catherine Willows in the hit CBS-TV show CSI, recently built a home of various log products, such as 1x10s, that were manufactured by Tripp Lumber.
Additionally, the firm’s products have been incorporated into structures at Ft. Rapids Indoor Water Park in Columbus, Ohio; Famous Dave’s Barbeque, headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn.; and several retail store developments in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
As recently as seven years ago, Tripp Lumber did not produce mass volumes of log siding. In recent years, however, that scenario completely changed.
“We are now one of the top five producers of log siding in the industry,” said Dylan Tripp, who works in
Dylan Tripp inspects a freshly-run unit of Grizzly Hewn Log Siding.
the company’s sales department, and represents the third generation in the Tripp family to work in the family’s business. “I think our ability to change and find niche products to market are keys to our overall success. Through the years we have made and perfected new products that our customers, who are wholesale distributors, appreciate for the quality work we do. Also, we offer our customers the most competitive prices. I have not heard any customer complaints in the seven years that I have worked here.
“We listen to our customers, find out what they need and then we make it. We also offer added value through various services, and we can do all this while promising a turn-around on the product within two weeks.”
Installation of new equipment in recent years, including Yates American A20 planers, chop saws, trim saws and a resaw, has facilitated faster production, thus faster deliveries from Tripp Lumber. Products manufactured include Grizzly Hewn Log Siding, which appeals to many of Tripp Lumber’s customers due to its rustic appearance.
“Grizzly Hewn Log Siding does not look manufactured,” Dylan said. “We continue to sell a lot of the smo
Log siding runs on one of two Yates planers at Tripp Lumber Co.
oth log siding, but sales of the hand-hewn siding has really increased as recently as the last three to four years.”
Inland lumber species, such as Lodge Pole Pine and Douglas Fir, are primarily used for Grizzly products. However, Tripp Lumber manufactures smaller quantities of siding in White Fir, Cedar and SPF.
The company also offers such items as 2x6 and 2x8 tongue and groove boards for floors and ceilings to complement its log siding.
“We’ve found these products tend to appeal to customers who are building either log homes or luxury homes,” Dave said. “They want a consistent look for their entire home, rather than have just the exterior of the home appear be a log home. For these customers we also produce 1x6 and 1x8 pattern boards for interior paneling, as well as circle sawn 1x6 for flooring and 1x8 for flooring. Again, this is to carry the log cabin ‘look’ throughout the home.”
Tripp Lumber further enables customers to assimilate the ‘log cabin look’ in their homes by marketing accent items, such as log corners, posts, beams, stair railings and stair treads.
A rail car of log siding is loaded at Tripp’s Missoula, Mont., facility.
“We have the complete interior and exterior log home package to achieve this — from the 30-foot long, 10-inch in diameter log for use in making trusses to the 2x6s and 2x8s — we manufacture all of it,” Dave said.
Tripp Lumber Co. is capable of producing 250,000 board feet per day at its 8-acre facility. Its inventory is maintained at 5 million board feet in a variety of widths and thicknesses, ranging from 1x4 to 3x10 in Lodge Pole Pine, Hem-Fir, Ponderosa Pine and Cedar. All lumber is purchased from sawmills located within a 25-to 30-mile radius of the Missoula facility.
The company’s customers are located in every state in the United States, however its products are in highest demand in the South, particularly Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. Tripp Lumber contracts through North American exporters to market products abroad to Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Tripp Lumber, which ships via BNSF railroad and independent trucking carriers, offers such value added services as transport of mixed loads, repackaging, reload/unload and bar coding of yard packs to assist in trackin
Dave Tripp, president and owner of Tripp Lumber Co., located in Missoula, Mont., is pictured with his wife, Patricia.
g customers’ inventory.
Twenty-five employees produce Tripp Lumber’s quality merchandise. In addition to Dave Tripp, owner/president, Dylan and Ben Tripp, in sales, some key personnel include: Gene O’Toole, who has been in sales with the company since the mid-1980s; Barry Darrow, salesman; and Jason Beaudoin, production manager.
“We have more than 125 years of combined experience in the lumber industry among our tenured employees,” said Dave. “With their help and expertise, we will continue to manufacture new, quality products. I believe a need will always exist in this industry for more product, and for new and creative ideas. We will continue to find ways to develop and produce these products to the best of our ability.”
A new product that Dave Tripp predicts “will be huge in the market in the near future” is Tripp Lumber’s Brazilian hardwood decking program, which is geared toward usage in yachts, exterior furniture and decking.
“Overall, our secret to success is simple,” Dave said. “We cater to making products that people want. This has worked for us for decades, and I’m proud to say that some of my customers have faithfully been with me for more than 37 years.”
Will Brooks, Tripp Lumber’s assistant production manager, checks the finish on a unit of 1x12 Grizzly Timber siding.
Ben Tripp, nephew of company president Dave Tripp, is part of the firm’s sales team.