Gary Knight, co-owner of R.B. Lumber Co. in Oregon City, Ore., helps lead a company that sells between 12 and 14 million board feet of Western Red Cedar annually.
Honesty, Integrity Key At R.B. Lumber
By Wayne Miller
Oregon City, Ore.—They call themselves “Cedar guys,” and the many years of experience in working with that species combined with a dedication to delivering exactly what customers want make Gary Knight and Randy Brown a dynamic duo among lumber wholesalers. Co-owners of R.B. Lumber Co., based here, Knight and Brown have a combined 60 years of experience working with Cedar, and have parlayed that experience into a company that sells between 12 and 14 million board feet of Western Red Cedar annually.
“I worked for Castle Brothers for 30 years, and in the Cedar business for 35,” said Knight. “That’s what I know, and that’s what I do.” Making the species particularly attractive for this pair of National Wholesale Lumber Assoc. (NAWLA) members are Cedar’s profit margins, which surpass those of many other Softwood species. “You have to sell a mountain of wood to make any money in the white woods these days,” said Knight. “Cedar has much higher margins, and a customer base that really depends on suppliers who know what they’re doing.”
R.B. Lumber procures the bulk of its raw materials from Canada, Washington or Oregon, with finished products hailing from those states, plus South America and China. Incorporated in 2001, but in business since the early 1990s, the company is a wholesale remanufacturer that sells Western Red Cedar products made by various sawmills. Key products include fencing and finger-joint stock industrial items, including lower grades of lumber.
R.B. Lumber co-owner Randy Brown teamed up with Knight in the early 1990s to form the wholesale lumber remanufacturing company. Its key products include fencing and finger-joint stock industrial items, including lower grades of lumber.
“We’re sort of a raw material supplier, in a way,” said Knight, who works closely with various suppliers in China that supply the firm with fencing pattern and decking materials. Working with Knight and Brown are four independent sales representatives that sell the company’s economy, standard, standard and better, No. 2 and Better, STK and clear grades. Products are sold to distribution yards, wholesalers, remanufacturers, installation and fence contractors and roofers throughout North America.
R.B. Lumber custom processes products at its Washington and Oregon facilities, where it resaws, rips, grades and packages the raw materials for sale. “We also do a lot of tile bats, used on tile roofs,” said Knight. “That’s a proprietary-type product that we make and sell a lot of.”
With the U.S. housing market in decline and demand for building products down, Knight said business has remained steady at R.B. Lumber, despite a slightly higher number of slow-pay customers due to the overall economy and some typical seasonal issues. “We work on the industrial side, where our customers need materials for their contract business, so we’re still pretty active compared to some of our competitors,” said Knight. “And even though demand is down, we’re somewhat sheltered on the supply side with the Cedar, of which there isn’t as much to go around as the white wood.”
With a business mission that’s based on honesty and integrity, R.B. Lumber’s other advantage lies in its loyal customer base and strong vendor ties. “We have a lot of pride in our business relationships, all of which are forthright and forthcoming,” said Knight. “Our goal is to always get the customers exactly what they need. We know that if we meet customer expectations, then we’ve done a good job.”
Looking to the future, Knight sees the firm importing even more products from China. “We’re going to be increasing our volume dramatically,” he said. “Probably by 25 to 30 percent next year over 2007, as a way to offer a substitute for Cedar, due
Knight and Brown have a combined 60 years of experience working with Cedar. R.B. Lumber processes products at its Washington and Oregon facilities, where it resaws, rips, grades and packages raw materials for sale.
to estimated lower production of the species over the coming years.”
For more information at R.B. Lumber, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call 503-655-8020 or 623-936-7091.