Chuck and Matt Dean in front of the new Dean Hardwoods' operating center, located in Leland, N.C.
Dean Hardwoods Moves To New Facility
By Gary Miller
Leland, N.C.—In the lumber industry, hard work, quality products and integrity can usually propel a company into the forefront of the industry. That’s the case with Dean Hardwoods Inc., but being in the right place at the right time helps. The company recently replaced its old operating facility in a relocation with major upgrades in lumber handling, kiln drying, manufacturing, climatized warehousing, office and showroom facilities.
Charles D. “Chuck” Dean Jr., company president, said in a recent interview that, as a member of the third generation of Dean family members in the fine Hardwood business, he is very happy to be passing the reins to his son Matthew, who represents the fourth. “All of us have proudly embraced the principles of honesty, quality and fair dealing on which my grandfather founded The Dean Company in 1905,” said Chuck Dean. “Dean Hardwoods was spawned from it in 1967.”
Thomas Carraway, chief engineer at Dean Hardwoods Inc., in front of “Monster Molder.”
Matthew B. “Matt” Dean, a great-grandson of The Dean Co. founder, is now vice president, general manager and part owner of Dean Hardwoods Inc. He explained that, “For about the last quarter century, our company has been operating in Wilmington, N.C., in an industrial zone of Historic Downtown on the banks of the Northeast Cape Fear, which has been under redevelopment in recent years. That translated into a lucrative buyout of our property, and an opportunity to relocate and rebuild a state-of-the-art facility in the Leland Industrial Park, just 10 miles south of Wilmington on U.S. Highways 74/76.”
“It was like a dream come true,” said Matt’s dad. “A new plant with new dry kilns, a wish-list of the newest and best German machinery to manufacture our trademarked Prestige Hardwood Flooring and Precision Moldings, and a beautiful concrete working area for handling our high-end specialty hardwood lumber.”
A closed loop wood waste evacuation system by Dantherm from Swaim and Associates utilizes German Vecoplan grinders
3. Richmond Dean, founder of The Dean Co. in 1905, and its first chairman (deceased 1942); Charles D. Dean, executive vice president of The Dean Co. (deceased 1962); Thomas A. Dean, president and chairman of The Dean Co. 1940-1965 (deceased 1995); (standing) Matthew B. “Matt” Dean, vice president, general manager, Dean Hardwoods Inc.; Mary K. Dean, director, Dean Hardwoods Inc.; Kyle Broom, portrait artist; Charles D. “Chuck” Dean Jr., president, Dean Hardwoods Inc.
and blows the material into closed trailers for sale as industrial boiler fuel. “It’s been a big improvement for us,” said Chief Engineer Thomas Carraway, adding, “We used to pay others to grind and haul off our waste rippings and cut-offs, and it could become unsightly. Now, we can keep our facility as clean as a pin, and get paid in the process, which is a double-pleasure for all of us.”
“The Deans chose our Kiln-direct.com stainless steel lumber kilns,” according to Niels Jorgensen, founder of the Niels Jorgensen Co. Inc. of Burgaw, N.C. “Kiln-direct.com is a new branch of an old vine originating with Wooddryer System in Denmark, which my father, Valde Jorgensen, started several decades ago. The Dean’s kilns have completely computerized controls with additional features for gentle drying based on the original technology developed by Valde Jorgensen, plus a new stainless steel building-panel concept developed last year by Kiln-direct.com. Furthermore, the kilns came standard with heat recovery on the venting and 100 percent efficient direct gas heating system. This combined with the very well insulated building design were the main reasons the Deans chose Kiln-direct.com.”
Matt Dean estimates that these kilns will be about 50 percent less costly to operate than their old ones, and since the system pampers the wood instead of force-drying, it is a perfect match for Dean’s very expensive specialty Hardwoods: Teak, Afrormosia, Mahogany, Sapele,
Chuck Dean and architect George Alsina in Dean Hardwoods’ new office.
Bubinga, Brazilian Cherry, Cumaru, Doussie, Wenge, etc., as well as North American Black Walnut and Cherry, Oak and other foreign and domestic species.
“The best part of Kiln-direct.com is the Jorgensens,” said Chuck Dean. “Niels and his father are great people, absolutely honorable, always true to their word and support what they sell.”
Dean Hardwoods’ lead salesman, Chadd Smith, said, “Each of our specialty woods was carefully chosen to serve one or both sides of our manufacturing and lumber business.”
Pat Gorham, associate salesman, added, “Sometimes they serve both, as with our hallmarks Burma Teak, Mahogany, Afrormosia, and Sapele which are hard, stable, and possess the enhancing beauty of
Matt, Mary and Chuck Dean in front of the eulogy to former company president and chairman Thomas A. Dean, 1899-1995.
exotics. What I am proudest of in terms of company accomplishments is the fact that two former presidents of the National Wood Flooring Association have complimented our trademarked wide plank Prestige Hardwood Flooring as the best in the industry.”
“Our new efficiently designed facility provides a showroom and climatized, clean warehousing for us to begin direct factory sales of flooring and mouldings coastally to architects and members of the building trades. Elsewhere, we’ll continue selling through normal wholesale distribution channels,” explained Chuck Dean.
Matt Dean elaborated on Dean Hardwoods’ new manufacturing process. “We feed into the computer how many pieces of each width are required for production or custom orders of wide plank flooring or mouldings,” he said. “The optimizing rip saw’s electronic brain tells the machine how to produce exactly what is needed most efficiently from random width lumber. Once those blanks are cut, they go on a new conveyor which sends the waste rippings to a grinder from which the ground material is blown into disposal trailers for removal. A single worker pulls the good blanks by width onto separate carts, which are rolled to my dad’s favorite machine, our “Monster Moulder.” It was designed and made by Weinig in Germany to handle our exceptionally hard woods like Afrormosia, Sapele, Wenge, Brazilian Cherry and Cumaru, the latter two being two and three times harder than
Dean Hardwoods’ Senior Vice President/Treasurer Mary Robinson with Chadd Smith, lead salesman.
Oak. It’s huge horsepower motors and 8,000 RPM finishing heads produce an extraordinarily precision finish and fit for our customers who sometimes ask if their new Dean flooring even needs to be sanded.”
”We have a little slogan,” added Chuck Dean, “that our Prestige Hardwood Flooring™ is ‘The Installers Dream.’ That’s because it’s manufactured to such exacting standards, is easier to install, barely needs sanding, and therefore saves the installers’ time and money. Scott Atkinson, our master-machinist, Is a big reason for that consistent precision.”
Mary Robinson, 39-year-veteran and company treasurer, explained, “40 percent of our sales are flooring we manufacture, and 10 percent mouldings. The balance is lumber sales to manufacturers, redistribution warehouse operations, and boatbuilders like Rybovich and Sons Boat Works of Palm Beach, which hand-crafts the Rolls Royce of custom sport fishing boats with our Teak and Mahogany, which has been a treasured relationship for many decades.”
“We cater to the high-end of every industry we serve,” said Chuck Dean. “We’ve been vendor of the year for Hatteras Yachts out of about 1,500, and we’re proud to continue serving them as well as Viking Yachts and other production lines and custom boatbuilders. We buy the best because that’s what our customers expect, and in the case of our flooring and mouldings, we
Scott Atkinson, machinest, in Dean Hardwoods' tool room.
make the best lumber even better.”
“So, that’s our little niche in the world. I’m proud of the accomplishments of those in the three generations before me,” concluded Matt Dean, “and I’m committed with ‘The Dean Team’ to justify the opportunity entrusted to me to carry on the traditions of my great-grandfather, grandfather, great-uncles, and my father.”
Dean Hardwoods is a member of the National Wood Flooring Assoc., International Wood Products Assoc., National Hardwood Lumber Assoc., Architectural Woodwork Institute, National Marine Manufacturers Assoc. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Gary Miller, Import/Export Wood Purchasing News, and Matt Dean stand behind a replica of a Resolute Desk reproduction by Scholte Furniture Reproductions Inc. in Dean Hardwoods' office.