Union City, Indiana— For more than a century, Frank Miller Lumber Co. Inc. (FML), headquartered here, has provided customers with quartered, rift and plain sawn hardwood products.
The 100-year-old company, located on the Indiana/Ohio stateline, specializes in quartersawn Red Oak, White Oak, Hard Maple, Ash, Walnut, Cherry, Hickory and Poplar in varying thicknesses from 4/4 through 8/4. However, the manufacturer prides itself on plain sawn availability in the above-mentioned species.
Quartersawn boards are made by cutting a log into quarters and then creating a series of parallel cuts perpendicular to the tree’s growth rings. The grain in quartersawn wood is relatively consistent, making the end product stable, and it is preferred by woodworkers and furniture makers.
Bob Miller, Frank Miller Lumber president, and Chris Moore, vice president of sales, stand in front of an above average width White Oak log pile.
Though the unique quartersawn look has been an ongoing growing trend, Bob Miller, president, said that FML has made the look its own over the years and truly quarters the logs to optimally maximize the beauty of each board.
John Miller founded Frank Miller Lumber in Union City in 1903, filling small orders for local farmers. Today, the company markets globally to high-end niche manufacturers who produce furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and architectural millwork. Celebrity customers include Bill Gates, Charles Schwab, Reba McEntire, Lance Armstrong, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and San Francisco City Hall to name a few.
Including a separate facility in Salem, Ind., FML keeps an average finished goods inventory of 3.5 million board feet. The Union City mill produces 19.5 million board feet per year. The plants combined have 4.5 million board feet of air-drying capacity, 240,000-square-feet of dry storage space, 30 dry kilns with 2 million board feet capacity and two predryers that have 800,000 board feet capacity.
Larry Beeman is a loyal log supplier to Frank Miller Lumber.
The Union City mill features state-of-the-art equipment including: an 8-foot Letson and Burpee headrig that produces quarters for the 6-foot Salem and McDonough linebar resaws; the headsaw that utilizes an Inovec 3D Stereo Scan system combined with a 3-knee linear positioner carriage; and an ASM (Advanced Sawmill Machinery) edger that employs Inovec’s WaneMaster optimizer edger controls.
Other equipment at FML includes: an Inovec TrimMaster, optimizing trimming controls and 66-inch, 8-knife Fulghum chipper for processing waste byproducts; Armstrong file room equipment for the band saws; an Armstrong leveler to assist benchwork; five Caterpillar 938 loaders to service the log yards at both the Union City and Salem facilities; a 300-horsepower boiler and 600-horsepower Hurst boiler using in-house sawdust, planer shavings and chips as fuel; and Lignomat controls on the kilns.
A sawmill, warehouse and offices are housed in Union City Plant No. 2.
“The optimizer edger and trimmer have made significant improvements in not only the value of the lumber, but have helped us gain more production,” said Tony Messina, vice president of operations.
The Union City production facility also offers an 18,000-square-foot outlet store to accommodate customers that use less-than-truckload quantities. The Salem facility, located 40 miles north of Louisville, Ky., offers dry kilns with a total capacity of 600,000 board feet, eight T-sheds with 1.2 million board feet of capacity, a stacker, an inspection station and a Hurst 600-horsepower wood waste boiler.
In 2005, FML contracted with McDonough Manufacturing and Pierce Construction to install a new resaw, a $2.5 million expansion. “Initially, we hoped for a 38 percent improvement in production, but we’ve received over a 50 percent improvement,” Miller said. “It’s taken us to a new level within the company and with our customer base.”
An overview is shown of the Salem facility located in southern Indiana.
Chris Moore, vice president of sales, said the Outlet Store recently introduced sheet stock (veneer laminated plywood) to gain an edge against its competitors.
“Many of our customers said they would enjoy shopping at one place, and if we carried sheet stock, they could do more business with us,” Moore said. “It’s given us the advantage because we are an all-inclusive one-stop shop now.”
Martha Miller Mathias serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Frank Miller Lumber, which employs over 200 people. Other key personnel include: Jo Ellen Johnston, chief financial officer; Tony Messina, vice-president of operations; Carol Cappa, human resources director; and Cary Rhoades, information technology director. Robert Miller and Susan Mathias Maurais serve on the board of directors.
Frank Miller Lumber has enclosed storage for 4 million board feet of kiln-dried lumber.
Frank Miller Lumber was listed as the 37th largest mill in the U.S. by Timber Processing Magazine, July/August 2006. FML is a member of the Indiana Hardwood Lumber Assoc., National Hardwood Lumber Assoc., Hardwood Manufacturers Assoc., Kentucky Forest Industries Assoc., Wood Products Manufacturers Assoc., National Wood Flooring Assoc., American Hardwood Export Council, American Woodworking Institute and Indiana Lumber and Builders Supply Assoc.
The manufacturer was named the Union City Chamber of Commerce’s “Outstanding Business of the Year” in 2006 and won the “Hub Award” in 2001. The Chamber’s “Hub Award” was given on the basis of the company’s longevity and contribution to the community. FML plays an active role in community projects throughout Union City and Randolph County.
Twenty kilns at the Union City facility have computerized monitoring to ensure precise drying.
Relationship selling is of the utmost importance to FML. Each member of the sales staff connects with customers on a regular basis. “We truly want to help our customer base achieve a more profitable level,” Miller said. “If our customer base is not going to be profitable, we will not be successful.
We want to grow with our customers well into the future. I would love someday to see the family’s next generation do business with the customers we have today.”
For more information on Frank Miller Lumber Co. Inc., visit the company’s website at www.frankmiller.com.