Kevin Hancock is the sixth generation chief executive officer and president of the Hancock Companies, headquartered in Casco, Maine.
Eastern White Pine Drives Hancock Lumber
By Terry Miller
Casco, Maine—For almost 160 years, Hancock Lumber Co., headquartered here, has depended on the area’s lush supply of Eastern White Pine (Pinus Strobus). The species, which grows from North Carolina into Canada, has been a staple of the sixth generation company since its founding in 1848.
Hancock Lumber started as a small sawmill and retail operation, and today, employs over 450 people between the sawmill division and the eight retail lumberyards. The company operates three sawmills, located in Casco, Bethel and Pittsfield, Maine. The firm’s products are used in all types of high value applications from furniture and millwork to moulding and cabinetry for the U.S. and international markets.
“Our mission is to keep growing so that we can employ more people,” said Kevin Hynes, chief operating officer. “This company has survived the Civil War, the Great War, the Depression and World War II by reinventing itself, keeping current and being aggressive.”
Hynes said Hancock Lumber has been built by the “excellent performance in our manufacturing capabilities and the family of employees who produce results every day. You could have the greatest equipment in the world and double our amount of retail locations and not be successful,” he said. “The Hancock name and our signature red bag on our Eastern White Pine lumber have come to mean solid, consistent performance, high quality and that is why customers keep coming back.”
The sales team at Hancock Lumber includes, from left, Matt Duprey, vice president of sales; Jack Bowen, vice president of sales; and Kevin Hynes, chief operations officer.
For many years, Hancock Lumber has exported Eastern White Pine to such foreign locales as China, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Japan, Vietnam, Canada and Mexico.
Matt Duprey, vice president of sales, said the company wants to create a global brand for its Eastern White Pine products. “We understand that this is a long-term project,” he said. “We want to sell our lumber globally because we want people to understand Eastern White Pine is the highest quality, most stable softwood product that they can buy for multiple end uses.”
Hynes said the export market is key to Hancock Lumber’s continued growth. In 2005, the company sold approximately 65 million board feet of lumber. That number is expected to grow to 90 million board feet this year, and top 100 million board feet by 2012.
“When you look at that amount of growth in such a short period of time, it’s tremendous,” he said. “We have been able to
Eastern White Pine sawlog is sawn by a double cut bandmill.
create a demand for our products domestically, and we feel this is a great opportunity to create that demand internationally. We have the technology, infrastructure, resources and raw materials, so why not?”
Hancock’s three sawmill locations are capable of manufacturing the firm’s full line of products, Hynes said. The Bethel mill, the largest in size, produces 40 million board feet of Eastern White Pine annually, and is known as the company’s “flagship operation” in terms of technology.
The Pittsfield mill, which is located an hour south of Bangor, produces 26 million board feet annually, and can sort lumber by grade or according to customers’ specifications. The Casco mill, which is the smallest operation, produces 22 million board feet annually, and is home to a moulding operation. That operation
This is just one of the many applications that can be done with Hancock’s Eastern White Pine products.
manufactures more than 20 million board feet of patterns each year, including many for the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Assoc. (NELMA) profiles.
“Once lumber is produced at Pittsfield or Bethel, it gets transferred to the moulder operation in Casco where it is made into patterns that are anywhere from 3 inches to 12 inches wide and in multiple thicknesses,” Hynes said. “Our pattern quality control is second to none and our pattern will match every time due to our strict process controls.
“We have added sorting capacity, manufactured new products and generated new grades, all to solve a particular need a customer has,” he said. “We’re going to continue to do that because that’s what it takes to stay ahead and be a higher value supplier to our many customers.” Hancock’s three mills allow them the flexibility to
A container of Hancock’s Eastern White Pine is loaded for export.
produce specific products for export and this has proven to open up new markets in many areas.
In addition, Hancock Lumber owns a 40,000-acre timber base of high quality Eastern White Pine, located primarily in southern Maine. The tract was purchased many years ago by the Hancock family, and is managed to sustain the company’s resources. This attribute certainly enhances the long-term commitment the company has towards their customers and the manufacturing of their products.
Duprey said the harsh Maine environment helps create an EWP product that, in addition to its natural beauty and color, has an unmatched fiber structure, exceptional workability and a stability that ensures minimal shrinkage and swelling.
“Eastern White Pine
Hancock’s highest grade of Eastern White Pine is C & Better Selects.
has always been the secret behind Hancock Lumber’s success and our customers’ continued satisfaction,” he said. “It shows when they come to us with a lot of requests. They feel a connection to Hancock Lumber, and we take it very seriously how we perform for our customers. We pay strict attention to detail and realize that a lot of our customers are getting behind us and growing their businesses with our products.”
Hynes said a passion for the business has helped Hancock Lumber continue to grow in sales for many years. Since 1984, the firm’s annual production of Eastern White Pine has climbed from 6 million to more than 90 million board feet.
“When we talk about Eastern White Pine, we get all excited about it,” he said. “When you go without passion, you can’t be an expert at it. If we’re going to grow, we are going to grow in Eastern White Pine because that is what we do.”
Duprey added, “It’s also our customers’ passion. As our customers have grown, they count on us and we count on them. I think our customers are just as passionate about selling our products as we are manufacturing our products for them.”
Hynes said customers also remain with Hancock because it is “one of the few companies that take the time to listen. We’ll listen to what the customer wants us to do and we’ll work together to make it a success,” he said.
“We’re really interested in developing partnerships with customers so that they can grow and we can grow along with them,” Duprey said. “If it
Eastern White Pine’s advantage is its versatility and workability for window, door and furniture manufacturing.
means us traveling to the four corners of the world to do that, it’s only a plane ride.”
Along with Hynes and Duprey, key executives include Kevin Hancock, chief executive officer; and Jack Bowen, vice president of sales. Duprey said he also considers each mill’s general manager part of the sales team because they deal with customers directly and indirectly. “We feel it is very important for our production management to know who and where the products we make end up and have ownership that the product needs to be exactly what they ordered”
Hancock Lumber is both FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified at all three mills and eight retail locations. In addition to those organizations, the firm is a member of NELMA, the North American Wholesale Lumber Assoc. (NAWLA), Maine Forest Products Council, Forest Resources Assoc. (FRA) and multiple retail associations.
Hancock produces 25 million board feet of pattern done on high-speed moulders in various grades and widths.