Buck Harless started his own sawmill operation in Gilbert, W.Va., in 1947. Through his leadership, his company has grown where today Gilco Lumber Inc. consists of three band mills, two circle mills, 20 dry kilns and a pre-dryer that all help his firm manufacture and/or process approximately 85 million board feet of Appalachian hardwood lumber annually.
Gilco Enters Into Drying Contract For Marion Facility
By Gary Miller
South Charleston, West Virginia—Gilco Lumber Inc., headquartered here, recently entered into an agreement with Ethan Allen and Catawba Hardwoods & Dry Kilns Inc. to provide drying services for Gilco’s 11-acre hardwood concentration lumberyard in Marion, N.C. This new concentration yard was purchased in January from Joe Hall, who owned Catawba Hardwoods & Dry Kilns in Marion, N.C.
Scott England, Gilco’s sales manager, said the partnership with the Ethan Allen’s furniture manufacturing facility in Old Fort, N.C., which is only a couple of miles from Marion, N.C., will greatly boost Gilco’s monthly production of kiln dried lumber.
“Ethan Allen’s kilns will be 100 percent dedicated to drying green lumber from Gilco Lumber Inc. sawmills,” he said. “After drying, the lumber will be brought to our lumberyard, which is only a very short distance away, and we’ll take it off a truck and stick and package it. In fact, they’ll actually dry more of our lumber there than we’ll dry at our hardwood concentration lumberyard in Marion. In Old Fort, Ethan Allen has 500,000 board feet per charge of dry kiln capacity.”
Scott England, sales manager for Gilco Lumber Inc., and Rick Wheeler, lumber salesman for Gilco, stand in front of their company’s dry kilns at their new hardwood lumber concentration yard in Marion, N.C.
England said, “Between Ethan Allen kiln drying Gilco’s lumber at their facility in Old Fort, N.C., and our firm kiln drying lumber in our dry kilns at our new lumberyard in Marion, N.C., our company will be able to process about 1.5 million board feet of kiln-dried lumber per month through our facility in Marion.”
Gilco Lumber Inc. represents International Lumber Inc., which includes Gilbert Lumber Co., Gilbert PLC Lumber Co. and Gilbert-NS Lumber LLC. The divisions cover nearly every facet of the lumber industry and International Lumber boasts one of the largest timber reserves in the industry.
The company’s 20-acre Roderfield, W.Va. hardwood concentration lumberyard includes a 1 million board feet capacity pre-dryer, 16 Irvington Moore dry kilns, air drying sheds and yard with 4 million board feet of open air drying capacity. The location has two grading chains; one to grade inbound green lumber and the other to grade, sort and surface dried lumber to customer specifications. Gilco has two 1 million board feet kiln dried storage warehouses, located at the end of the grading chain, which enables the firm to provide its customers with “just-in-time” shipments to any location in the world by route of truck, railcar or container.
This is a view of 8/4 Poplar being kiln dried at Gilco Lumber Inc.’s new lumberyard in Marion, N.C. This new facility will help Gilco produce another 15 million board feet of kiln-dried lumber annually.
Gilco, located in the heart of the Appalachian hardwood region, produces dried and green lumber for a variety of domestic and export customers such as the manufacturers of furniture, flooring, cabinets, paneling, mouldings, trim, pallets, etc. The company also sells its lumber to wholesalers, exporters and hardwood distribution/concentration lumberyards. Furthermore, crossties are manufactured by Gilco and sold to railroad companies.
The firm has all its sawmills and hardwood lumber concentration yards in the Appalachian region so they specialize in Appalachian grade lumber and hardwood pallet stock in such species as Ash, Basswood, Beech, Cherry, Hickory, Hard and Soft Maple, Poplar, Red and White Oak and Walnut. Overall, Gilco operates three band mills and one tie mill, along with two dry kiln facilities and lumber concentration yards. Gilco produces approximately 85 million board feet of lumber annually.
The firm’s three band mills are located in Cabin Creek and Gilbert, W.Va., and in Duffield, Va., which also has a tie mill. As was mentioned earlier, Gilco also has hardwood lumber concentration yards in Roderfield, W.Va., and Marion, N.C.
This is a view of one of Gilco’s employees working on some lumber handling equipment in a building that will house their new green chain.
Their 11-acre Marion facility has undergone a major expansion, with the company investing more than $1 million in new lumber handling equipment and updating older machinery. The renovation at the Marion, N.C., lumberyard included adding a new green chain, desticker, planer and dry storage shed. At this facility, Gilco has two green chains, several gas-fired steam kilns, an office building and two storage sheds. The Marion facility has 280,000 board feet per charge of dry kiln capacity.
“We made this move because the domestic furniture manufacturing in our nation has decreased and more of it is being done in other countries like China, Vietnam and the Eastern European countries,” England said. “We decided that we needed to add value to more of our lumber products by drying a greater volume of lumber, preparing it and shipping it to export markets. In fact, having our dry kilns in Marion, N.C., and exclusive use of the dry kilns at Ethan Allen’s plant in Old Fort, N.C., will take us from our current 25 million board feet of kiln dried production to 40 million next year, which will get us up to 50 percent of our green production.”
One of Gilco’s employees moves lumber bundles around the yard in one of the firm’s Taylor forklifts.
England said the Marion hardwood lumber concentration yard is located in a prime spot for exports, just 260 miles from the Port of North Carolina and an even shorter distance to the port in Charleston, S.C.
Other improvements made at both Gilco Lumber Inc.’s Marion, N.C., lumberyard and the Roderfield, W.Va., yard includes the installation of a new PictureTally system designed by River City Software, based in Exeter, N.H. The equipment utilizes digital pictures to generate fast and extremely accurate lumber bundle tallies.
According to River City Software’s Web site, “PictureTally takes pictures of lumber bundles. The system uses advanced computer software to find and measure the boards in the lumber bundle. The result is a detailed export bundle tally including the real measure of each board in the bundle.”
Joe Hall Jr. is a lumber inspector at Gilco Lumber Inc.’s new Hardwood lumber concentration yard in Marion, N.C.
In other news, Gilco Lumber Inc. recently opened an office in Shanghai, the ninth largest city in the world, which has province-level status in China. Claire Chen, an 18-month employee of Gilco, heads up the Chinese sales office. England said, “My role as the sales manager for my company is to find new markets for our kiln-dried production.”
England’s lumber sales staff includes Hank Bishop, Samantha Mann, Rick Wheeler and Tony Love. Wheeler will work out of both the Marion, N.C., office and his home located in Granite Falls, N.C.
Other key personnel at Gilco’s lumberyard with dry kilns in Marion include: Darrell Sheets, general manager; Jeff Henderson, lumberyard manager; Joe Hall Jr. and John Roberts, lumber inspectors; and Sonya Gladden, administrative assistant. Buck Harless, a 60-year veteran of the lumber industry, founded Gilco and still maintains a hands-on role at his various companies from his office in Gilbert, W.Va.
This picture shows some of the lumber in Gilco’s air-drying yard in Marion, N.C.
For the Cabin Creek mill, Buck Harless chose Corley Manufacturing Co., located in Chattanooga, Tenn., to engineer and build the mill. This band mill began operating in 1993. The facility has a line bar resaw, linear positioner carriage, 7-foot band mill, board edger and automatic drop saw trimmer. In fact, Corley built all of the company’s mills.
Harless purchased his first mill from Corley in 1961. According to the company Web site, Gilco still employs the same standards Harless used when he entered the lumber industry in 1947. “Tough grading, state-of-the-art equipment, just-in-time delivery — all were qualities for which Buck became known. Those same standards are found today at each of Gilco Lumber Inc.’s facilities.”
“You know what you’re getting from Gilco Lumber — quality, service and consistency to our customers,” England said. “Quality means that we have the latest technology in quality lumber production and all lumber is trimmed after drying. Customers can expect the highest quality Appalachian hardwoods and the Gilco quality assurance.”
This picture shows, in the background of Gilco Lumber Inc’s new Hardwood lumber concentration yard in Marion, N.C., part of the mountain range that exists in western North Carolina.
Gilco’s service includes controlled “just-in-time” shipments by rail, truck or container; the ability to surface and trim to customers’ specifications; dedicated employees committed to providing customers with the highest quality goods and services; and flexibility to meet all needs.
Gilco’s select harvest area of over 1.2 million acres ensures better grain and color as well as better length and width tallies on each bundle of lumber produced.
For more information, visit Gilco Lumber Inc.’s Web site at www.gilcolumber.com.