Cookeville, Tenn.–Approaching their 30th anniversary in 2009, Hermitage Hardwood continues to evolve withthe times. In an age where the only constant is change, the company continues to make capital improvements to assure quality, efficiency and consistency.
Founded in 1979 by Parker Boles, company president and chief executive officer, Hermitage began as a wholesale lumber business and evolved into a global supplier of hardwood lumber. Boles attributes his success to being proactive, which has provided a positive rate of growth.
Boles states that he could see globalization taking place and knew that gaining efficiency and increasing production would ultimately be the way to remain competitive in the domestic and international markets. “With continued pressure on margins, we felt it was necessary to gain more production with our existing manpower,” Boles said. This past spring, Hermitage added a new material handling system. Boles explained the efficiency of this new system.
Tracy Clark and Wilma Love keep Hermitage Hardwood’s office in Cookeville, Tenn., running smoothly.
“By integrating three workstations into one with automated scanning technologies, we are able to combine inspection, trimming and sorting into one major production line,” Boles said. “For our customers that request more specific width sorting, we are able to sort to their request or we can program the system to pull any percentage of any width our products will allow.”
Hermitage also runs a planer production line where sorting for color is sometimes more important than sorting for width. The company’s most important goal is to minimize handling, while at the same time offering more ability to fulfill customers’ requests.
Boles added, “The way we packaged lumber was also upgraded with an automatic package maker to handle bulk items with each individual species and sort. For items that are not considered bulk – the more specialized and smaller lots – those items are transferred to a pull chain that labels in bundle numbers that are separate from the bulk.”
In 2006, a 40,000-board-foot capacity per charge Walnut steamer was built. “Steaming was done elsewhere for some time. We knew we would have better quality control if we were able to do it here,” said Boles. With the addition of a 22,500- square-foot warehouse that same year, Hermitage Hardwood now inventories a diversified stock of up to 2.5 million board feet combined of Ash (4 through 8/4), Basswood (4/4 and 5/4), Poplar (4 through 10/4), Red and White Oak (4 through 6/4), Hickory, Hard and Soft Maple and Cherry kiln-dried lumber (4/4). Junior Kessler is responsible for the procurement of all green lumber.
Lumber is inspected and marked for grade and remanufacture request at the new sorting line.
At the end of ’06 and early into 2007, the company installed a Picture Tally system. The benefits of this system include accurate and individual tallies on each bundle as well as individual bundle weights and automatic printouts of board footage for maximizing weight on truckload and container shipments. “By combining these individual capabilities we are able to load for the benefit of the customer,” Boles said.
Boles plans to further develop production capacity, which will allow the company to process smaller quantities of specialty items such as Ash, Maple, Walnut and Oak in thicker stock than what Hermitage has traditionally been able to supply. “Our diversity will expand and we will be able to offer smaller quantities of selected items as the customer tells us what their needs are,” he said.
The company markets lumber both domestically and internationally. The firm is targeting Scandinavia, Northern Europe, Mexico, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. The company distributes directly as well as through a vast resource of exporters, agents and importers. The company uses contract carriers and utilizes its own shipping department to handle containers for the railway to domestic customers.
Along with Boles, Lawson Maury and Adam Moran handle international sales. An experienced lumber veteran, Maury, who previously lived in Europe, is currently handling the majority of direct European export sales. Working under the guidance of Boles and Maury, Adam Moran, a recent graduate with a B.A. in Asian studies, who also studied in Beijing for a semester, recently began training to help develop domestic business and increase a presence in the Asian market. Steve Gunderson,
Hermitage’s recent addition of an automated package maker handles larger volume runs.
also having an extensive lumber industry background, is focused on expanding North American markets.
Hermitage Hardwood’s dry kiln capacity is approximately 875,000 board feet per charge, and the dry kilns and steamer are fueled by a wood waste boiler. The firm has a covered air-drying capacity of 4.5 million feet. Lumber is waxed on the ends to minimize checking and end splits, which is supplied by U•C Coatings Corp. The production target for Hermitage is 1.6 million board feet per month. The company is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Assoc., Hardwood Manufacturers Assoc. and the Tennessee Forestry Assoc.
With 45 employees, other key personnel include Wilma Love, who is responsible for handling freight, insurance and other administrative duties; and Tracy Clark who oversees accounts receivable, payable and customer relations.
“One of the ultimate goals at Hermitage Hardwood is to develop procurement solutions for our customers. We want our customers to know that we are going to be here to do what we can to help maximize their potential in an increasingly challenging market,” Boles said. The company is committed to providing a wide-range of high quality Appalachian hardwoods – on time – as ordered with a quality guarantee. By increasing efficiency, keeping current with technological advances and maintaining consistency and quality, Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales is well positioned for the future.
Small percentage products and specialty sort items are packaged at the pull chain.
For more information about Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales visit them at www.hermitagehardwood.com or contact them directly at 931-526-6832.
A package of surfaced Hickory at the Picture Tally is weighed and tallied prior to end painting.
Junior Kessler, lumber procurement manager, examines inbound green lumber at the stacker.