Wood Purchasing News


Feature Story


Sheila Warne-Brooks, David’s “right arm,” and David Xóchihua, owner of Aztec International Timber and Trading Ltd., are pictured at the company’s headquarters in Vancouver, Wash.
Aztec International, Not Just Another Lumber Broker

By Wayne Miller

Vancouver, Washington—When the history of a company is studied, many times one type of product or service was used to fill a niche and over time the product base expanded along with its customer base. That is exactly what happened at Aztec International Timber & Trading Ltd., an importer and wholesaler of hardwood lumber and panel products, headquartered here.

“I started the company in October of 1993 to continue the supply of trailer decking and truck flooring to customers I developed over many years,“ said David Xóchihua Sr., owner of the company. “Over the years, inquiries began rolling in for a vast array of items and we became quite good at filling them.”

So good at filling them that the company motto became “Send us your inquiries. If they’re difficult, we’ll tackle them immediately. If they’re impossible, it will take a little longer…Miracles by pre-a
David Xóchihua is presented a “Supplier Excellence” award by Rear Admiral Charlie Lilli, Commander of the Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio.
ppointment only, (please).”

“We've gained a reputation for tackling some of the unusual and difficult projects that other companies declined,” Xóchihua said, a 25-year veteran in the forest products industry.

The company’s product base has grown to include, but is not limited to: hardwood and softwood lumber and panel products, solid hardwood trailer decking, laminated trailer flooring, exterior hardwood decking, barge and ship decking, planks and batter boards, railcar lumber, decking and components, military vehicle slats, stakes, sills, wood and composite chemical support blocks, metal and rubber products, bamboo items, to name a few.

“The supply of quality forest products from selected domestic and overseas manufacturers has been our specialty throughout our first 14 years,” Xóchihua said.“

Aztec International represents domestic U.S. manufacturers who stock over 4 million board feet of hardwoods for prompt shipment, and imports direct from sources hand selected for product quality and shipment reliability.

“Maintaining close supplier relationships allows us to supply almost any wood product, hardwood or softwood, domestic or imported,” he said. “We excel in matching our customer’s requirements with our suppliers manufacturing capabilities and welcome the most challenging inquiries.”
Pictured is one of Aztec’s supplying mills in central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

“We also supply durable Douglas Fir from our own Pacific Northwest,” Xóchihua said. “Our pre-fabricated drop-in floor kits are noted as being among the industry’s finest and are specified as pre-approved replacement kits by the United States Military.”

Aztec also supplies custom fabricated hardwood and softwood railcar components.

“We are able to supply complete railcar sets 'just-in-time', manufactured to stringent specifications to assist our customers inventory management and production flow,” he said.

Durable hardwoods for docks, bridges and wharves; treated softwood for Navy ship well deck planking, and unusually high grade clear Douglas Fir lumber for restoration vessels are another Aztec International specialty. Preservative treatments to extend life are also available.

Xóchihua said that for proven knowledge of military requirements, purchasing procedures and p
Xóchihua, left, is shown performing quality inspection in the mill.
roduct use, Aztec Int’l is a reliable source of lumber related products: wooden tent poles; wooden tent pins; military vehicle components and others.

Aztec International maintains updated government ordinance drawings, specifications and standards on file and has government source inspectors available to monitor raw material and production quality. The company was recently selected to receive a “Supplier Excellence” award for being one of the nation’s best-ranked suppliers to the Defense Dept., and was presented the award in person by Rear Admiral Charlie Lilli, Commander of the Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio.

“We can supply virtually any wood or wood related product with raw materials, configuration and delivery according to precise military specifications, and are jointly certified by the U.S. government and Canada as an official data custodian for militarily critical technical data,” Xóchihua said.

“Our unique ability to offer a wide range of specialty items is enhanced by our diverse technical
This is a gathering of timber friends in Los Angeles, Calif.
and manufacturing expertise,“ he said. “Unusual and difficult specifications are our specialty.”

Just some of the specialized products include wood for ships and boats, musical instrument stock, aircraft parts, architectural and millwork products, chemical support blocks, nuclear stop logs, as well as custom fabricated metal and rubber items.

“What makes us different is our 'we can' philosophy of doing the difficult, taking on commitments and following them through to completion; trying to do more than is required by basic specifications and providing quality service, recognizing our customer’s important requirements.”

For example, Aztec was involved in a restoration vessel project that's a national historic monument. The company supplied all the old growth Douglas Fir for this project. It was a 4 plus year rebuild restoration project and the vessel is now back in the water at the Maritime Museum in San Francisco, Calif.

“We were both pleased and proud to be able to source the type of material that they needed for that project,” he said.

With no manufacturing facility of its own, none of these products would be available without an extensive and reliable supplier base.

“Our supplier base is our strength. In this industry if you don't have suppliers you don't have any bus
Xóchihua is pictured with some happy customers of Aztec International.
iness,” Xóchihua said. “And the ability to maneuver and work through an occasional instance of difficulty in the trade utilizing the honesty and the openness of working with our suppliers has been a valuable asset for us. Our ability to match our supplier's abilities with our customer's requirements has been an asset.”

Of course, loyalty also plays a big role in a supplier relationship, and if one thing can be said of Aztec, it is loyalty.

“In general we've seen more loyalty from our suppliers than from customers. Which I think is perhaps typical because customers tend to shop more often,” he said. “However, we are a customer to our suppliers but we don't go shopping for lower prices all the time. When the industry is slow and money becomes tight people tend to go looking to save a few dollars. We tend to go more on quality than only on price. We want to continue that relationship which has been an asset for us because in times of tight supply we're many times favored with supply that our competitors aren't able to get their hands on.

And those supplier contacts paid off this past year as Aztec supplied more raw materials and imported for other wholesalers in this country than in previous years.

“That was due to the strength in our connection and relationship with our suppliers overseas and t
Aztec International’s pre-fabricated military floor kits are shown in use at a customer’s facility.
he amount of time that we have been in the trade. And then when there was difficulty in supply and tight supply from Southeast Asia,” he said. “Many companies who hadn't looked for us previously for supply came to us and we were able to fulfill their needs and requirements which was a benefit for us and for other people who otherwise might not have had the stocks that they required.”

Sheila Warne-Brooks is Xóchihua’s full time ‘right-arm’ sales assistant who succeeds in the most difficult task of keeping track of all order details. She has been with the company for 10 years.

“Once we purchase the products, I follow them all the way through production to shipment and finally to delivery,” she said.

Aztec is headquartered in downtown Vancouver, Wash., right next to the Columbia River. Across the river sits Portland, Ore.

“We have warehouse locations in New Orleans, here in Vancouver, Wash., and recently we have been storing more inventory in the Houston area because of the proximity of the locations for our customers,” he said. “We utilize the Port of New Orleans, Port of Houston and Port of Long Beach since a lot of containerized cargo enters through those ports.”

However, the company will utilize any port that is closer to the customer to minimize inland freight cost.

Xóchihua said that industry changes its cycle and business is very different after 8 to 10 years. If c
Specialty ship plank timbers are cut for the national historical vessel C.A. Thayer restoration project.
ompanies don't follow that growth cycle, they find themselves behind.

“We try to keep ahead of the cycles and know of new innovative developments in the industry,” Xóchihua said.

For more information, contact David Xóchihua at Aztec International call 360-690-8532, visit www.aztecintltimber.com or e-mail davidx@aztecintltimber.com.

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