Softwood Forest Products Buyer


Feature Story


Tri-Pro Cedar Purchases Large Log Mill

By Terry Miller

Oldtown, Idaho—In just about any business, commitment plays a vital role. But in the forest products industry commitment is even more important because of supply. At Tri-Pro™ Cedar Products Inc., located here, they have recently invested in a commitment that should keep their customers happy with a continued supply of Cedar.

“We purchased Konkolville Lumber Co. in Orofino, Idaho,” said Terry Baker, sales manager of the company. “They have been around since 1947, they’ve been continuously owned by the Konkol family and they just decided to get out of the business and we were in a position to move forward with a win-win for both parties involved.”

It is an interesting layout because the large log sawmill is on one side of Orofino Creek and the dry kilns and planer are on the other and the sorter goes over the creek–a unique setting to say the least. The mill is a multi-species operation with the Tri-Pro Cedar team of White Fir, Doug Fir, Spruce and Cedar.”

“We acquired the mill for several different reasons,” said Ron Cluster, manager. “One is for the Cedar, the other one was, of course, to diversify our ability in different species. We felt that we needed more diversity and the mill that we purchased would have to be a different product mix, with different species to rely on in case there were changes in the Cedar market. Cedar has been appreciating in price immensely for over 2 years now, which has put tremendous pressure on that species and the products derived from it.”

The focus at Tri-Pro will continue to be Cedar, like it has since the company was founded in 1987.

“Our No.1 item that we want out of the mill is Cedar,” Baker said. “We’re a specialty company, and always will be and so we will make a few changes there to continue that. They have been a dimension mill, and they’ve always produced Cedar boards, but we will try to do as much Cedar there as we can.

The mill will manufacture 7/8 dry Inland boards, some timbers and if they get the right kind of a log, will cut rough green cants for the company’s reman plant in Oldtown.

“Unfortunately there’s not enough Cedar to run 100 percent of the time so we will have to step outside the box and produce some White Fir Shop, White Fir timbers, side cuts will obviously probably be dimension but that won’t be the focus,” Baker said. “Then above that we’ll produce some Larch timbers, Doug Fir timbers and Spruce boards. The primary emphasis is on Cedar, and the other species are secondary, yet vital to the mix. We will continue to maintain our focus as a specialty manufacturing facility.”

The mill, which has rail service capabilities, is equipped with a 6-foot double cut band mill, which feeds a twin band horizontal resaw, that could also feed directly to the edger. The edger is an optimizing board and gang combo edger.

“Once it leaves the edger, the lumber then moves to optimized trim saws,” Cluster said. “We will add to the 18 bin sling sorter and add a green chain which will give us an extra 34 sorts of different products. The green chain is really for the 12-foot and shorter lumber coming out of the mill. It has a Newman planer and currently has four kilns, three single track, one double track.”

Under the previous ownership, the mill had a staff of about 100 people that worked two shifts. With Tri-Pro, the mill will move down to one shift and about 60 employees until they get their legs under them and then soon move to a second shift, hopefully within a year.

For the past 15 years or so, Tri-Pro Cedar has had two mills that custom cut for them.

“We own the logs and they manufacture them the way we want them to,” Baker said. “So we’ve had a secure supply of that material for a long time. And now with the mill we purchased we have made a pretty strong commitment to the stocking distributor that we will have a steady supply of Cedar. We are not just a reman, we are controlling it from the stump and have been for years, but we now have that additional production at the new mill.”

Another new venture Tri-Pro has taken is handling the sales and marketing for Malloy Lumber out of Priest River, Idaho.

“Over the last 10 years we have surfaced, graded and shipped Malloy Lumber’s Idaho White Pine,” Baker said. “The product has been coming here anyway, therefore, we felt it complements what we are already doing. It will be a natural fit because a lot of our stocking distributors that buy Cedar also purchase Idaho White Pine.”

The White Pine products handled will include Utility, Standard, Sterling, Quality and Better, as well as having the capability to run primarily 6-inch and 8-inch pattern, both Sterling and Standard.

Tri-Pro Cedar Products is a Cedar manufacturing mill located in the panhandle of Idaho, approximately 50 miles north of Coeur d'Alene in Oldtown. The Albeni Falls plant is situated on 200 acres of land with access to the BN, as well as truck and van loading capabilities. The company operates ten 70,000 board foot capacity dry kilns, four planers, seven re-saws, and an automatic stickering machine with covered storage holding capacity of over 1 million feet. Currently the firm ships between 3.5 million to 4 million board feet per month.

Tri-Pro, a member of the National American Wholesale Lumber Assoc., manufactures green and kiln-dried Cedar products from state-of-the-art facilities.

“We provide a complete line of quality deckings, sidings, patterns and trim. Using second growth timber assures our wholesale distributors of sound tight knot products,” Baker said.

Of course the ultimate commitment is to the customer and providing them with the product and service that they deserve.

“It’s always been our philosophy to provide the product when we say it will be shipped–not to say we won’t have a hiccup–and at the same time have multiple products on the loads,” Cluster said. “We’re providing a full range of product mixes from 1-inch 5/4, 2-inch dimension, all the different patterns, and there’s a lot of mixed trucks. Customers buy that way to control their inventory costs, so we’re like a secondary manufacturer/manufacturer distribution yard. We are holding the inventory for our customers in a large, very diversified mix of product.”

It is that kind of commitment that will keep Tri-Pro Cedar in the forefront for many years to come!


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