Wood Purchasing News


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Bill Tallyen is the latest sales representative for Emporium Hardwoods, headquartered in Emporium, Pa.
Emporium Hardwoods Serving Discerning Global Buyers

By Terry Miller

Emporium, Pennsylvania—Located in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains, Emporium Hardwoods, headquartered here, is well known by its customers around the world for its high quality Northern Appalachian species, which include rich, tight-grain Black Cherry and Red Leaf Soft Maple.

Emporium boasts a 120-acre mill site, with over 163,000 square feet of enclosed production space, and manufactures over 20 million board feet of lumber annually. The company also produces Hard Maple, Red Oak, Ash, Birch and Poplar.

In addition to lumber, Emporium markets veneer logs in Black Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, and Ash. The company exports saw logs in Black Cherry, Hard Maple and Red Oak, and pulpwood logs in all hardwood species indigenous to the region.

Bill Johns, chief forester at Emporium, said approximately 75 percent of the firm’s logs are primarily procured within a 75-mile radius. Emporium does not purchase any green lumber from smaller sawmills. Instead, the company opts to manufacture everything in-house, which contributes to the consistency of the product.

Wayne Johnson, the kiln operator for Emporium Hardwoods, has over 24 years of hardwood lumber production experience.
Emporium currently uses 14 contracted logging crews, most of whom they have done business with for many years.

“Sitting where we are located in the Alleghenies, we have access to some of the best Cherry in the world,” Johns said. “Our weather conditions, which include a short growing season, contribute to the tight grain and consistent color that comes from this region. The quality of our timber and the dedication and experience of our loggers gives us an outstanding product.”

Admittedly affected by the downturn in the U.S. housing market, Emporium Hardwoods has become a player in the international arena. Randy Flament, who has handled lumber sales for the company for over 25 years, said customers around the globe are “continually looking for the consistency in color and texture of our lumber products.

“North American hardwoods are still the best managed renewable resource in the world,” Flament added. “I am excited about the direction our company is moving as a global supplier.”

Jonathan Spiegel is the head saw filer at Emporium Hardwoods.
Jared Fowler, who serves as general manager of Emporium Hardwoods, said that the company’s recent investments in equipment upgrades have helped improve yields and production, and will help the company meet its vision for success now and in the future.

Emporium has recently added up-to-date lumber handling equipment including a Newman-Whitney EPR-24 planer and a Better Built Dry Kiln, which has a per charge capacity of 70,000 board feet and specifically used for whitewoods only. Other additions have included a drop saw trimmer, an edger, a headsaw and a long scanner, which all utilize INOVEC software, as well as a TS Manufacturing lumber stacker, a Jacobson AC carriage drive and a VKB ring debarker.

The sawmill production process begins when logs are debarked by the VKB ring debarker, and then conveyed to a 6-foot McDonough double-cut bandmill. The logs are cut on four sides before going to one of the mill’s two 6-foot McDonough linebar resaws for further processing. The lumber is then sent through the optimizing edger and trimmer. Immediately following the trimmer, the lumber moves to the green chain, where it is sorted by thickness, grade and length. Most of the lumber gets stacked on sticks with the TS Manufacturing stacker, and then sent to the air-drying yard prior to going into the dry kilns. Lower grade lumber is sold green.

“With our stacker, we are able to sticker all of our lumber on one shift instead of two,” Fowler said. “The stacker also significantly improves the lumber handling process for our employees, and has positively impacted employee morale.”

Andy Housler, log buyer and veneer log sales, and Bill Riffle, log scaler, scale and grade incoming logs from standing timber tracts.
Fowler added that lumber units are stacked straight and uniform and topped with a concrete slab to “keep Mother Nature from getting to the boards throughout the air drying and kiln drying conditioning process.”

“It helps to hold the boards in place all the way through the drying process,” he said. “The concrete does not come off until we start grading and packaging the product. We put a lot of time and effort into our kiln drying.”

After a short air-drying process, the lumber is then transferred to the dry kilns, some of which are made by SII Dry Kilns, American Wood Dryers and Better Built Dry Kilns. Prior to stacking, all lumber is waxed on the ends using ANCHORSEAL®. Manufactured by U•C Coatings Corp., ANCHORSEAL® helps eliminate splitting or end checking. Maple products are stacked on Breeze-Dried™ sticks to ensure flat, shadow free lumber.

Emporium has approximately 700,000 board feet of kiln capacity, and dries about 12 million board feet per year.

Emporium has more than 100 experienced employees on staff. In addition to Johns, Flament and Fowler, key employees include Bill Tallyen, who has two years of sales and over 16 years of sawmill experience; Andy Housler, who is the log buyer.

This is a view of the green chain, sorting various lengths, grades and thicknesses of lumber.
Flament said that there continues to be high demand for Black Cherry, which is manufactured in 4/4 through 8/4 thicknesses, kiln-dried, rustic, No. 1 and No. 2 Common, and Select and Better. All species of lumber are sawn in 4/4 through 8/4. All species are sold kiln-dried with log grade sold green.

“More customers are asking for width and length sorts, and we are working to accommodate those needs by increasing our capabilities in each species,” Tallyen said.

Emporium ships products coast-to-coast, to Canada and overseas to end users, such as flooring producers, kitchen cabinet manufacturers and millwork and moulding plants, as well as distributors and wholesalers. The company offers mixed trailer loads in a variety of species and thicknesses. Products are sorted and packaged according to customer specifications or stock items.

Emporium Hardwoods has a commitment to forest stewardship and industry involvement, and holds memberships with the following associations: National Hardwood Lumber Assoc., Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Assoc., Penn-York Lumbermen’s Club and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Emporium Hardwoods recently added this Newman-Whitney EPR-24 planer as well as other lumber handling equipment.
With a continuing focus on relationships, communication and teamwork, Emporium consistently delivers some of the best Appalachian species in the world. The company plans to continue to succeed in the hardwood lumber business by adapting to industry changes as quickly as possible, leveraging its strong geographical “wood basket” location, investing in optimization technologies that improve yield and increase production and providing the finest customer service available.

Emporium Hardwoods is one of four companies under the umbrella of American Hardwood Industries Inc., which is headquartered in Cromwell, Conn. Other subsidiaries of AHI include Northern Hardwoods in South Range, Mich., Graham Lumber Co. in Linden, Tenn., and Blue Triangle Hardwoods in Everett, Pa. Lumber is exported under the Rossi American Hardwoods and Graham Lumber brands.

American Hardwood Industries Inc. was created on Oct. 15, 2007, when Rossi American Hardwoods and Hardwood Lumber Manufacturing decided to merge. American Hardwood Industries boasts production facilities throughout the eastern U.S. and a capacity of over 150 million board feet. All facilities have or will receive in the near future Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

The corporate office in Cromwell, which houses Rossi American Hardwoods, handles all exports for the firm.

Pictured are packages of 8/4 Cherry air-drying in the firm’s lumberyard. Gary Baker, a local truck driver, prepares to haul a load of Cherry to a customer.
With strong financial resources, including the backing of HIG Capital, a leading global investment firm with over $4 billion of investments, American Hardwood Industries is actively seeking opportunities with partners that share their basic business strategy and commitment to build relationships worldwide.

For more information on Emporium Hardwoods, visit www.ahwood.com, call 860-632-3500 or e-mail ahisales@ahwood.com.

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