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In Largo, Fla., Florida Forest Products (FFP) takes pride in the manufacture of its floor trusses, which are assembled and clamped in jog tables.
Florida Forest Products: A ‘Trussworthy’ Company

By Brady Buffaloe

Largo, Fla.—Trusses are used in eight of ten houses built today in the United States. In Florida, one of the fastest growing states, home building thrives often times when housing starts are sluggish in other areas of the country. Florida Forest Products, located here, has been providing roof and floor trusses to Tampa-area homebuilders with service, quality and design for the past 28 years.

Largo is centrally located in Pinellas County, touching the Intracoastal Waterway to the southwest and Tampa Bay to the northeast. Clearwater is Largo's neighbor to the north. To the northwest are the towns of Belleair and Belleair Bluffs. Largo sits on the West Coast right next to the Gulf of Mexico.

“Our customers appreciate that we build in quality to every phase of the truss process – from our complete quotes that include truss profiles and a layout plan, to the custom design and assembly of the trusse
FFP uses lumber from certified mills that process and manufacture Southern Yellow Pine that has been grade stamped.
s,” said Rick Cashman, owner. “The finished products that we deliver to our customers are the very highest quality possible.”

A roof truss is a rigid, strong framework made up of wood members, such as 2x4s, fastened and held together by metal connector plates. This framework accounts for the shape of a roof and supports the roofing materials. Roof trusses are designed according to ancient geometric principles. Many of the bridges throughout the world were designed using the same principles. These same principles guide Florida Forest Products.

“In our opinion, wood trussed roofs are superior to conventionally framed systems due to professional design, high quality materials, uniformity of size and pitch, and the fabrication techniques used,” Cashman said.

Quality assurance begins when the company receives and checks the lumber from its mills. It continues with the person who selects the lumber for cutting; the person who cuts the lumber; and the assembly supervisor who reviews and inspects each truss before placing the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau's (SPIB) Quality stamp on the truss.

“In addition, our full-time in-house quality assurance inspector monitors each process an
Florida Forest Products purchases approximately 4 million board feet of  lumber annually.
d performs additional inspections on each truss order assembled,” Cashman said. “We also participate in the SPIB's Third-Party Independent Inspection and Quality Assurance Program. We have monthly-unannounced inspections by a SPIB inspector who inspects and grades our lumber and inspects finished trusses to ensure the truss conforms to the engineering requirements.”

Once the lumber arrives at the facility it is cut with a state of the art computerized saw to ensure cut angle accuracy and product quality.

“We assemble the components on a combination of gantry and wood tables, then press the plates and stack the trusses for delivery,” Cashman said. “Our trusses are covered with special tarps and stored in our 7-acre yard until delivery.”

A team of experienced truss designers use the latest version of Alpine Engineered Products truss design software to design custom roof and floor trusses. The truss designers have an average of 10 years of well-rounded experience in residential and commercial truss design.

“We pro
FFP assembles the components on a combination of gantry and wood tables, after which the plates are pressed and trusses stacked for delivery.
duce truss shop drawings and truss placement diagrams that are required to submit for most building permits,” he said.

The company’s truss connector plates are manufactured by one of the oldest most respected plate manufacturers in the country – Alpine Engineered Products, Cashman said. The plates are stamped from high quality 20-gauge steel and hot dipped galvanized with a G-60 coating to prevent corrosion.

Florida Forest Products also produces floor trusses, a geometric design using wood members fastened together with metal connector plates to form a structure which supports a given floor load.

The floor trusses are assembled and clamped in jig tables. Metal connector plates are then either rolled or pressed into the truss at the joints using special truss manufacturing equipment. After the truss is fabricated, clamps are released and the truss is ejected from the jig.

At Florida Forest Products, lumber is the key component for any type of truss. The company buys about 4 million board feet annually.

“We start with the highest quality 100 percent Southern Yellow Pine,” Cashman said. “Our lumber comes from certified mills that process and manufacture Southern Yellow Pine to the highest standards. We only use lumber that has b
A team of experienced truss designers use the latest version of Alpine Engineered Products truss design software to design custom roof and floor trusses.
een grade stamped by the mill and delivered to us covered, with a moisture content of not more than 19 percent to prevent mold.”

The company has a staff of about 40 people. Key employees include: Dona Skinner, accountant; Heidi Brandt, office manager; Don Watson, customer service coordinator; Ron Hott, production manager; Darrell Smith, quality assurance and purchasing manager; Steve Chesley, Mike Fullenkamp, Joe Miele, and Rich Huffer, senior design technicians; and Joe Madorno, design technician and estimator.

Since 1954, Florida Forest has seen many changes in the building industry. Florida Forest Products originally got its humble start as a wood pulp brokerage in Tallahassee, Fla. Since then, Florida Forest has undergone many changes and seen different locations in Florida until the company made its home in the Tampa Bay Area.

 In 1969, Florida Forest Products made its debut in the building material supply industry by first marketing Gypsum wallboard. By 1972 Florida Forest Products saw significant growth in the industry and opened outlets in Tampa, Port Richey, and Jacksonville.

In 1976 Florida Forest Products seized the opportunity to move into the lumber business. To make room for the expansion into the lumber business it was necessary for Florida Forest Products to close some of the outlets. The growing demand for lumber also sparked the need for engineered trusses. So, in 1979, Florida Forest Products purchased the land necessary across from the lumberyard to start a truss plant. By 1988 Florida Forest Products became a full service lumber, millwork and truss manufacturer primarily to the Pinellas and Hillsborough county markets.

In 1996, Florida Forest Products sold the millwork and lumber portion of the company and conce
A staff of about 40 people comprise the staff at Florida Forest Products, which was originally established in 1954 as a wood pulp brokerage in Tallahassee.
ntrated solely on truss design, manufacturing, and delivery of engineered floor and roof trusses and engineered wood products.

It was this change that was the turning point for Florida Forest Products and its valued customers. The company found its niche in the building material industry. Florida Forest Products caters to not only the larger contractor but to the smaller homeowner builder customer as well. Florida Forest Products has always maintained the same quality product that the company was founded on.

“We take a lot of pride in our customer service design and craftsmanship that has made Florida Forest Products a respected part of the truss manufacturing industry,” Cashman said.

Today, Florida Forest Products serves the demands of an expanding Greater Tampa Bay Area. Florida Forest Products takes great pride in serving the additional counties of Pasco, Polk, Manatee, Hernando, and Sarasota.

The company is a member of Wood Truss Council of America; Southern Pine Inspection Bureau; Florida Suncoast Chapter of BOAF; West Florida Truss Assoc.; Florida Building Material Assoc.; Tampa Bay Builders Assoc.; National Association of the Remodeling Industry; and Pasco Building Assoc.

“Customer’s can place their faith and confidence in our company,” Cashman said. “At Florida Forest Products, we have spent many years and dollars analyzing and fabricating trusses to provide them the finest roof system available. Customers have our assurance that they will be entirely satisfied with our product, or we'll be there to help you.”


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