John Wenturine III and Kim Wenturine stand in front of a large Cherry log at the Wenturine Bros. Lumber Inc. facility in Nicktown, Pennsylvania.
Wenturine Bros.: Growing By Leaps And Bounds
By Bridget McCrea
Nicktown, Pennsylvania—The team at Wenturine Bros. Lumber Inc. knows that to the average person, FAS lumber is just that: FAS lumber. But for the sawmill and exporter, the lumber that passes through the plant and out the back door to customers every day is much more than just a commodity item that’s purchased on price alone.
“We go above and beyond to ensure that customers get exactly what they want,” said John Wenturine III, marketing representative at the company. That means not only ensuring that the products are of utmost quality, but also ensuring that the logs and lumber are properly graded and will fit the customers’ needs.
Perhaps that’s why Wenturine Bros.’s export business has grown by leaps and bounds since the company broke into the overseas market in the 1990s. With most of its Appalachian hardwood products being shipped out to furniture and flooring manufacturers in Europe, as well as Asian countries, the company has made a name for itself overseas. The firm handles mostly green lumber manufacturing, exports saw and veneer logs, and has recently added kiln-dried dimension lumber to i
The 21,000-square-foot facility in Nicktown fills 300 containers per year for shipments overseas and throughout the northeastern United States.
ts product lineup.
“Once we establish a relationship with a customer they know what to expect in terms of quality,” said Wenturine. “We have the customer inspect the first load of logs to make sure it’s on target, after that they know that all future orders will meet and exceed standards.”
Being able to offer such assurances in an ever-changing business world has helped Wenturine Bros. grow both its domestic and export sales exponentially over the last few years. The company, which relies primarily on its own Pennsylvania timberlands for its logs, fills about 300 containers a year by exporting 1.1 million board feet of hardwoods overseas, and selling 5 million board feet of lumber to customers in the northeastern United States.
Handling mostly Cherry and Red Oak, Wenturine Bros.’s Nicktown 21,000-square-foot plant runs 80 hours a week. With 50 employees working on two shifts, the company uses HMC circular head rigs and is looking forward to completing installation on a 56-inch McDonough horizontal band mill, which will replace a Cornell circular resaw. The new addition will help the company even further hone its approach to producing only the highest quality lumber.
“We’ll improve the quality of our lumber, reduce downtime and enhance our production numbers,” said Wenturine, who
Wenturine Bros. exports 1.1 million board feet of hardwoods per year.
added that the company is also in the process of expanding its veneer yard in an attempt to gain more capacity.
Founded in 1969 by Wenturine’s grandfather, John Wenturine Sr., the family-run company started out as a small lumber mill with just a few employees. It stayed that way until 1987, when the founder’s sons, John Wenturine Jr. and Kim Wenturine purchased the company. “It really took off from there,” said Wenturine, who started working for the family business at a young age.
Still primarily a green mill, Wenturine Bros., got some of its forward motion from the exporting side of its business, which was launched in the 1990s. The company cuts logs from its own timberland, as well as purchases private and bid timber, and practices sustainable forest management.
The firm has no dry kilns, and instead contracts with another firm to handle the lumber drying duties. It keeps minimal inventory of green lumber on hand, and 500,000 board feet of logs in its 10-acre production and storage yards. Wenturine Bros. uses mainly Appalachian hardwoods. “They’re the best in the world,” said Wenturine.
To service its domestic customers, Wenturine Bros. uses its own fleet of trucks that handle both incoming logs and green lumber. Overseas shipments are containerized, and loaded on site at the company’s Nicktown facility. “Our export log
A load of Cherry logs awaits export.
s and lumber are loaded into ocean containers and sent to our closest port in Baltimore,” said Wenturine. “We load the logs and lumber here, and have companies truck it over to the ports.”
To get the word out about its top-notch products, the sawmiller and exporter relies on word-of-mouth advertising spurred on by its reputation for delivering such products.
“Our reputation in the green lumber industry is what sells our lumber,” said Wenturine. “We have on going relationships with many domestic companies, and on the export side we keep establishing new markets and building a reputation for ourselves.”
The latter task isn’t always easy for a U.S.-based firm that wants to do business on a global scale. The internet has provided a useful platform for Wenturine Bros., whose website targets both potential and current customers that want to learn more about the company’s products and services.
“There are all kinds of nuances to consider when doing business overseas. We came up with a website that speaks easily to many different cultures,” said Wenturine, “in an effort to market ourselves in a way that appeals to the global environment that we operate in and positions our firm in a way that attracts customers from other countries.”
Wenturine Bros. has several log yards for layout.
Over the next few months, Wenturine said the company will continue expanding its veneer capabilities, and will also expand its green lumber equipment. “We’re considering buying a few smaller band head rigs for specialty cut lumber, and will also expand into a few other dimension markets,” he said, adding that the company will also begin manufacturing prefinished hardwood flooring. “It’s all in the name of diversifying, and meeting our customers’ needs the best way we know how.”