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Ipe is air-dried under a cover at Baillie Lumber Co., headquartered in Hamburg, N.Y.
Baillie Expands Portfolio With Exotics

By Terry Miller

Hamburg, New York—Baillie Lumber Co., headquartered here, recently opened a new exotic hardwoods division based in Cove City, N.C. The new division, headed by Jesper Bach, specializes in over 25 species including African Mahogany, Sapele and Jatoba (4/4 through 16/4 thicknesses).

Baillie has long been recognized as a trusted name in premium North American hardwood lumber. With its entry into the exotics market, Baillie now offers the most desirable species from South America and Africa in a wide range of thicknesses and sorts, including flat-sawn, quarter-sawn, pattern grade and figure.

Jesper Bach, Baillie’s exotic hardwoods manager, stands in front of a stack of air-dried Sapele that has been put on sticks.
Baillie’s exotic hardwoods find their way into specialty millwork and custom mouldings for hotels, courtrooms and other appearance-grade applications. The most popular species are stocked on a continuous basis, while the more exotic woods can be purchased as needed.

“We keep a fairly large and expensive inventory because you have to be ready when a customer needs the lumber,” said Bach, Baillie’s exotic hardwoods manager. “Given the struggling economy we’re in right now, it’s more important than ever to keep inventory on the shelves. Customers are cutting back more than ever before, and that makes it even more important to have everything ready for them when they need it.”

Bach said Baillie Lumber offers a normal turnaround time of two to three days, but can sometimes provide next day service if needed. “If a customer is out of stock and in a rush, we’ll do anything we can to accommodate them,” he said. “We’ll get into the warehouse, have a look and let them know if it’s possible. And, if it’s possible, we’ll do it for them.”

This is a picture of Baillie Lumber Co.’s air drying yard.
To avoid any issues with staining, the company grades everything soon after it arrives, and anything that doesn’t make grade is either remanufactured or used in a different market. After kiln drying, all products are graded again.

Don Bradshaw, who has been with Baillie for over 20 years, handles drying for the Cove City yard.

Baillie Lumber primarily sells its exotics to distribution yards in the United States and Canada, in addition to flooring plants and other end users. Bach noted that many customers looking to purchase the new products are existing clients who already purchase domestic hardwoods from Baillie. However, any new customers can expect the same quality products and service those familiar with Baillie have come to expect. The company also prides itself on meeting any customer’s most demanding challenges with custom sorts.

“We already have an extensive knowledge and great relationships with the customers that we’re dealing with,” Bach said. “Adding exotic hardwoods was just a natural fit. As a sales team, we work hard to help customers understand what their needs are, and, whenever possible, to get the specifications that work best for them.”

Mixed species of exotic hardwoods are shown in Baillie’s kiln-dried lumber warehouse.
Baillie Lumber actively procures lumber from South America (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru); Central America (Mexico, Guatemala); and Africa (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo).

Bach, who has sold exotic hardwoods for over 14 years, travels to Africa, Central and South America several times a year to maintain the company’s relationships with suppliers.

“We want to make sure we treat our suppliers as well as we can, and help them grow as we continue to grow our program here,” Bach said. “My responsibilities are to procure all of the hardwoods from overseas, and get everything set up for exporting and importing lumber from overseas to the U.S. I have also spent a lot of time with the various departments at Baillie — traffic, accounting, support and sales — in order to help educate them about the imported hardwoods. Especially the sales department at Baillie has really embraced the new imported wood program, and they are doing a really great job at moving this product to both new and existing customers.”

Bryan Swift, assistant yard manager at Baillie’s Cove City, N.C., operation, stands in front of a stack of Purpleheart lumber.
Bryan Swift, who works as assistant yard manager, joins Bach in Cove City. Swift noted that Baillie has recently completed a number of improvements to enhance customer service.

The company recently added PictureTally and a Morris Industrial Corp. grading station. PictureTally, which uses digital pictures for fast, accurate lumber bundle tallies, was installed at all of the firm’s lumberyards.

“We have cut the amount of time spent tallying a bundle in half by using Picture Tally. We will also be upgrading our system to tally one-half foot increments, which is required for some of the imported hardwoods.”

In Cove City, N.C., Baillie Lumber boasts a drying capacity of over 780,000 board feet, and the company can dry more than 1.2 million board feet of lumber per month.

Swift said the firm recently added an additional 12,000 square foot of dry storage to accommodate the imported hardwoods, and the requirement for just-in-time shipments. “It is so important to have everything in stock for our customers when they need it,” he said.

A forklift loads an order of Mahogany lumber onto a truck for a customer.
In addition, Baillie Lumber has several SII controllers to monitor the 12 dry kilns of various capacities from 25,000 to 120,000 board feet, and a Newman Whitney 282 planer at the Cove City facility. The operation is located on approximately 120 acres of land, of which 20 acres is being utilized, and has 55 employees.

Cove City’s inventory of domestic and exotic species, works in concert with Baillie’s domestic hardwood yard in Smyrna, N.Y., to proficiently provide these products in the United States, Canada and around the world. The company can ship whole or partial truckloads from both locations.

The exotic hardwoods division will also help expand Baillie’s line of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products under the SmartWood program. “We have many suppliers in South America and Africa that are either already offering certified products or are expecting to be able to within the next six to 12 months,” Bach said. “Our facility in Cove City should be certified in the first quarter of 2008, and we will be able to offer FSC-certified products by the second or third quarter.”

Bach said the division has grown steadily for the past eight months, and the company expects this to continue for 2008 and beyond. “Baillie is committed to this new exotic hardwood division, and has invested in both the people and resources to

The company has three full-time graders working on its grading deck.
grow the business and become an integral part of their portfolio,” he said.

James A. Baillie founded Baillie Lumber Co. in 1923, as a one-man brokerage firm in Hamburg, N.Y. Don Meyer, who joined Baillie Lumber in 1957, became owner and president following Baillie’s retirement in 1963. Today, the company has sawmills or lumberyards in Waterloo, Smyrna and Boonville, N.Y., Leitchfield, Ky., Titusville, Pa., and Donalds, S.C.

Baillie Lumber is a member of the International Wood Products Assoc. (IWPA), National Hardwood Lumber Assoc. (NHLA) and the Department of Trade and Industry Development Trust (IDT), an organization that primarily represents African producers of hardwood.

For more information, call 716-649-2850, visit www.baillie.com or e-mail info@baillie.com.

This is a picture of a mixed customer truck with loads of Mahogany and domestic species headed for a distribution yard.

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