The Bradford lumber manufacturing facility covers 400,000 square feet and contains all of the operational elements under one roof.
Bradford Forest Focuses On Relationships
By Paul Miller Jr.
Bradford, Pa.—Philosophically, Bradford Forest is more focused on forging successful, productive, long-term relationships with its lumber customers than what particular product is moving off the shelves at the moment.
The sales team at Bradford Forest wants to make sure they are providing premium quality lumber products that result in value and higher yield to their customers in the flooring, furniture, kitchen cabinet, millwork and regional distribution segments of the marketplace.
“Before we sell a product, we want to build a relationship with our customer,” said Patrick Hennebicque, manager of lumber/export sales and production planning. “When we visit a
The company has grown into a major lumber producer with three manufacturing locations in Bradford and Tioga, Pa., and Claremont, N.H. CROP TO THE MAP
customer, just selling product is not the first objective. We call on them so we can understand their needs in order to build and sustain a relationship with them. Our desired outcome is one where Bradford Forest and the customer can work together to plan future needs and production in a mutually beneficial process.”
Hennebicque said, “In the U.S. and Canada, we see our customers at least once, but more likely two or three times a year. We are big believers in the value of face-to-face contact and meeting with our customers in person. We want to see how our products are being utilized in their plant or learn about what their customers are looking for, so we have a better understanding of their business and how we can better serve both the direct and indirect customer base.”
Currently, Bradford Forest maintains approximately 60 percent of its business in the U.S., 25 percent in Canada and exports the remainder. The company has continuously serviced international customers worldwide since 1989.
Bradford Forest is located on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest and is able to take advantage of the region’s mature hardwood forests. Additional facilities are located in Tioga, Pa., and Claremont, N.H., giving the firm access to native hardwoods like Pennsylvania Black Cherry and Red Leaf Soft Maple, White Ash and Hard Maple from Upstate New York and New England, and the Wheat-colored Red Oak New Hampshire is famous for. By having three mill locations in different high quality forest areas, the firm is able to procure timber with highly desirable characteristics from both the Northern and Appalachian regions.
Bradford Forest is a member of the Danzer group of companies and was founded specifically in Northwestern Pennsylvania for access to
Bradford is known by the saying, “To find the best Cherry, just look for the orange.” Above, the company sign shows the end paint color the firm has always used.
Black Cherry, its signature species since the beginning in 1988. Cherry comprises about 30 percent of the company’s annual production. Another 40 percent is equally split between Hard and Soft Maple, followed by Red Oak and Ash at 10 percent each, with the remaining 10 percent coming from Poplar, Basswood, Birch and Walnut.
“To find the best Cherry, just look for the orange,” Hennebicque said, noting the bundle end paint color Bradford has always used. “Everybody knows that orange color signifies Bradford Forest Lumber. We have a long tradition of excellence in Cherry.”
Bradford Forest produces an unconventional product by offering up to 55 sorts of Cherry lumber in No. 1 Common and Better in various colors, widths and lengths. The species is available in standard thicknesses from 4/4 through 12/4, but also 7/4 and 9/4 through pre-planning.
“That’s what I mean by unconventional,” Hennebicque said. “A lot of companies will automatically turn down an unusual request and say ‘no,
Patrick Hennebicque is the manager of lumber/export sales and production planning at Bradford. He has over 42 years of lumber experience in Europe, Latin America, Canada and the U.S. Patrick frequently travels worldwide to visit with sales partners and customers.
that’s too much trouble, we can’t do that.’ We take that challenge and will work with the customer to find a size and sort that most closely meets their needs. We are not afraid to be creative to try to find a win/win solution. In addition, we can offer 4/4 through 12/4 in our other production species. We recently added Walnut, which we steam and dry on site in Bradford.”
The firm normally carries 2 to 3 million board feet (mmbf) of available kiln-dried (KD) inventory and has 40 mmbf of annual kiln drying capacity.
Bradford Forest’s lumber manufacturing facility covers 400,000 square feet, containing all operational elements of the process under one roof from the moment a log enters the sawmill until the finished KD lumber bundle is loaded on a truck for shipment. The building is roughly divided in half, with the southern end containing all green processing, wood-fired boilers, 23 dry kilns (1.15 mmbf loaded capacity) and two of the three mechanical sorters. A separate 80,000-square-foot building houses subsidiary Bradford Dimension Specialties on the same site.
A central building section houses the plant maintenance facilities and a storage area for one day of dry sorting line production capacity. The infeed for the multiple grader dry sorting line projects through a
Chris Wickersham is the territory sales manager for Bradford, covering the West Coast, Mountain States, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Western Canada. He has over 19 years experience in the veneer and lumber business and visits customers monthly in addition to attending trade shows.
wall into this area. The wall serves as a physical humidity barrier between the green/WIP section of the facility and the northern half, housing the dry sorting/inspection line, planer, KD inventory and shipping docks/truck loading areas. The material flow design of the building facility insures that dry wood stays dry and facilitates an orderly flow of forklift traffic to enhance safety.
“Our objective is to produce a superior quality product in high value hardwood species, so consistent grading is a key element of our production and marketing efforts,” said Mark Conolly, president of Bradford Forest. “To quote Patrick, ‘we do what we say.’ One of the essential components of delivering that consistency is the design of the inspection stations in our sawmill and sorting lines. We utilize a hands-off design that places the grader in a comfortable physical position with good lighting and no machine control over how long the inspector can take to grade an individual board. The grader inputs a grade and trim decision only. Mechanical and optical sensors determine size and sort bin. Then tally information is accumulated after trimming by our Lucidyne control system and software. Ten out of 11 of our inspection stations have been retrofitted with an identical system for consistency, and we expect to upgrade the last one in 2008. In addition, daily quality control test packs are re-inspected by the
Mike Mitchell is the territory sales manager for Bradford, covering the Central States and Eastern Canada. He also assumes the responsibility of managing sales on the East Coast. Mike has over 21 years experience in the lumber business and visits customers monthly in addition to attending trade shows.
line graders as a group activity to insure accuracy and inter-grader consistency. We think this represents a comprehensive approach to insuring product consistency and quality for the customer.”
“Another critical area for mill success today is information technology,” stated Conolly. “The Danzer group made a decision several years ago to implement SAP as our enterprise software platform worldwide. It was a time-consuming and expensive process, but the investment is now paying dividends in terms of our accounting, inventory control and business process capability. Having the ability to provide precise answers to managerial accounting questions on demand enhances timely decision-making capability in the business environment we operate in today. Another manifestation of our IT investment, which is paying off in customer service capability, is real-time inventory status capability. Today, our sales team can be sitting across the desk from their customer and provide immediate data on available inventory and existing orders. They are able to fine tune not only what the customer wants, but also the exact availability of that lumber adding real value to the customer relationship. We believe that high quality, consistency and fast, accurate information add up to value for our customers.”
Bradford Forest is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Assoc. (NHLA), American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Pennsylvania Forest Products Assoc. (PFPA), Penn-York Lumbermen’s Club, Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Assoc. (IHLA), Wood Components Manufacturers Assoc. (WCMA), Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Assoc. (NELMA) and the New England Kiln Drying Assoc.
Tony DeBock is a sales representative for Bradford Forest, covering North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Western New York. He joined the company in 1991 and also handles sales of green lumber for both the Bradford and Tioga facilities.
Tonette Feiro is the lumber sales coordinator at Bradford and has been with the company for 15 years. She oversees the flow and processing of all export/domestic documents, allocation of the lumber and coordinates international/domestic trade shows.