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Pictured is Newman Lumber’s new office building at their new location in Gulfport, Miss.
Newman Celebrates 60 Years Of Mahogany

By Paul Miller Jr.

Gulfport, Miss.—For over 60 years, customers both global and domestic have chosen Newman Lumber Co. Inc., headquartered here, as their primary source for Mahogany and other tropical woods. Newman Lumber has carried a full inventory of Mahogany for many years, but in recent years, they have diversified their offerings of tropical species to include Spanish Cedar, Cerejeira, Sapele and Jatoba.

Doug Newman, vice president of operations for Newman, said the company decided to offer a number of other species because Mahogany prices had escalated.

“It was taking a pretty big bite out of our customers to buy a whole truckload of Mahogany,” sai
Cindy Newman Bergin, Doug Newman and Roianne Newman Gutierrez are the second-generation leaders of Newman Lumber Co.
d Newman, who handles day-to-day business and lumber purchases. “We offer four major species, and are happy to put a bundle of each on a truckload. Our minor species are sold in 200 to 500-foot bundles, and we are happy to add that.

“We specialize in and try to maintain a large inventory,” Newman said. “We generally stock species that are widely available, and that we can provide through quick shipment to our customers.”

According to the company’s Web site, Newman Lumber has been “serving the world with Mahogany and other tropical woods since 1947” and offers such species as Mahogany (Genuine, Honduras, Tropical American and African), Swietenia Macrophylla, Spanish Cedar, Sapele, Cedro, Cerejeira, South American Oak, Roble and Jarrah.

Newman said approximately 60 percent of loads the firm now ships include mixed species and thicknesses. Domestic deliveries are made by contract trucks or via an on-site rail spur. Newman Lumber also loads containers for overseas shipments, which are sent by contract vessel from the port at the Gulf of Mexico. An estimated 30 percent of the company’s total volume is exported, primarily to Europe, the Far East and the Middle East.
Doug Newman is shown inspecting and selecting logs to purchase while in Latin America.

Newman Lumber recently moved into a new 25-acre facility in Gulfport, which the company purchased in 1998. A planned relocation was halted until last year due to damage from Hurricane Katrina. The 300,000-square-foot facility has 22 dry kilns with a total drying capacity of about 2 million board feet per charge, three green chains, and enough warehouse space to store 25 million board feet of lumber.

“We stlll grade all of our wood here in the United States for quality control and inspection,” Newman said. “We manufacture Mahogany (4/4 through 16/4), Spanish Cedar (4/4 through 16/4) and Sapele (4/4 through 12/4), among other species. Mahogany used to be 100 percent of our business, and now it represents about 40 percent.”

Newman Lumber has simply adapted to a new marketplace. Roy Newman, founder and owner of Newman Lumber Co., began his career in the forest products industry in Honduras in 1947. Following four years of military service during World War II, Newman was asked by a friend to help out a failing Mahogany logging operation in Honduras.
Bill Rogers is a salesman for Newman Lumber Co.

“He was in trouble, and he said he would give me the business if I could get it out of debt,” Newman said. Newman turned the company around and remained in Honduras for about seven years before returning to the United States.

Back in the United States, Newman quickly sold the 50,000 board feet of Genuine Mahogany he had to sell. “I thought I would take my time selling it,” he said. It only took one trip to a particular furniture plant, and the experience helped convince Newman to switch his company’s main objective from production to marketing.

Later, Newman decided to stop cutting dimension and became a volume supplier of Genuine Mahogany, adding more dry kilns and carrying a higher inventory. “We believe in carrying what the customer wants, when they want it,” he said.

Today, Newman is no longer active in the daily operation of the business, but maintains his position as president and chief executive officer. Newman Lumber is still family-owned, however, as Newman’s son, Doug, and daughters, Cynthia Bergin and Roianne Gutierrez, are heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the firm. Bergin, who serves as vice president and corporate secretary, handles payroll; while Gutierrez, as comptroller and treasurer, oversees the com
Roy Newman is the founder of Newman Lumber Co.
pany’s finances.

In all, Newman Lumber has approximately 48 employees. Besides the Newman family, key employees include John Windham, a 25-year veteran of the company and yard foreman, who checks each order personally before it is shipped to its destination; Bill Rogers and Pam Gates work in sales.

Newman Lumber markets its Genuine Mahogany and other species to distribution yards, furniture manufacturers and other industrial end users. “About 95 percent of our business is distribution,” Doug Newman said. “We purposely direct our business in truckload volumes of mixed species and mixed thicknesses.”

Newman generally makes 10 to 15 trips annually to Latin America to make sure the wood his company receives is top quality. He noted that all the Mahogany and Spanish Cedar the company sources from Latin America is CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certified. Approximately 60 percent of that volume also has certification in Latin America.
Newman employees inspect and sort lumber at the Gulfport site.

Newman Lumber is a member of the International Wood Products Assoc., National Hardwood Lumber Assoc., and other forest products industry and trade organizations. The company is also part of the worldwide preservationist movement that has affected the supply of Genuine Mahogany. Newman Lumber practices reforestation, which is something Roy Newman began practicing more than 60 years ago in Honduras.

For more information, contact Newman Lumber Co. at 1-800-647-9547, visit www.newmanlumber.com or e-mail info@newmanlumber.com.

Equipment stacks lumber in preparation for kiln drying.

This is a photo of Newman Lumber’s reforestation program.

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