Don Thompson, president of Thompson Mahogany Co., and Jim Larkey, decking and flooring sales, stand in front of some Ipe decking at the company’s headquarters in Philadelphia, Pa.
THOMPSON MAHOGANY Updates Product Line With FSC Eucalyptus Grandis
By Paul Miller Jr.
Philadelphia, Pa.—Thompson Mahogany Co., headquartered here, has gained attention during the past year by importing and marketing a new Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber product called Eucalyptus Grandis.
Thompson Mahogany is offering Eucalyptus Grandis in cooperation with Northland Forest Products, Kingston, N.H., and Lewis Lumber Products Inc., Picture Rocks, Pa. The three companies are importing the wood, and developing a market for it across the United States.
“The advantage of our Eucalyptus Grandis is that it’s plantation grown, all of it inside a radius of about 20 miles,” said Don Thompson, president of Thompson Mahogany. “There are about 20,000 hectares in one area in northern Uruguay, on the Brazilian border. Since it is from one area, it is uniform in color, density and texture. It’s also FSC certified, so it’s a very good wood. It machines well and easily accepts stain.”
Rob Nienaber handles lumber sales for the company.
Don said Eucalyptus Grandis is also a “wonderful alternative” to Swietenia Macrophylla Mahogany from Central and South America, which has declined steadily in availability for a number of years.
“The market response has been to seek alternatives to Swietenia,” he said. “Those alternatives include African Mahogany, which has been considered a Genuine Mahogany for more than 100 years in the United States. You also have relatively new woods such as Sapele and Utile (Sipo) that have come into the market strongly in the last four or five years. Those woods are all furniture quality woods that can be used as alternatives for Mahogany.”
Thompson Mahogany Co. was established in 1843 by Lewis Thompson, a carpenter from England, who opened a small furniture and cabinet operation called Lewis Thompson Mahogany Co. in Philadelphia. Because it was hard to obtain a dependable flow of Mahogany, Lewis began importing the species from Mexico and Central America. Soon after, the company stopped manufacturing furniture.
Other key employees include Ken Berger, assistant yard manager; and John Ryan, yard manager.
The company incorporated and became Thompson Mahogany Co. in 1926, and was sold to Mallinson-Denny, a United Kingdom-based timber company, in 1976. Don Thompson, who is not related to the original Thompson family, bought the business in 1985. The company has grown into one of the nation’s top suppliers of imported woods.
In addition to Don Thompson, key employees at Thompson Mahogany Co. include Jim McDonald, vice president; Rob Nienaber, Bob Smith and Tom Smink, lumber sales; Connie Newman, Jim Larkey, Charlotte Buglio and Scott Zubrow, decking and flooring sales. Thompson Mahogany sells approximately 7.5 million board feet annually of imported lumber, decking and flooring products in a variety of species. The firm specializes in Santos Mahogany, African Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany, Brazilian Redwood (Massaranduba), Brazilian Walnut (Ipe), Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba), Southern Chestnut (Cumaru), Tigerwood, Bubinga, Padouk, Wenge and others.
The firm imports approximately 26 species of sawn wood from Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and Australia. The firm has two locations in the Philadelphia area, one for imported lumber and the other for imported flooring and decking. Lumber is about half the business with decking and flooring making up the balance. The main headquarters, which is located at 7400 Edmund St., is situated on seven acres in northeast Philadelphia, near I-95 and the ports of Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. The company has six Irvington-Moore dry kilns with a total capacity of 200 MBF, and several warehouses,
Pictured is a mixed truckload of African Mahogany, Sapele and Ipe decking and flooring.
which can store up to 1.5 million board feet of kiln-dried lumber.
Thompson Mahogany specializes in supplying hardwood distribution yards in the United States and Canada. The company offers orders pulled to length, width or grain in many species, as well as S2S and R1E millwork. Full and multiple stop truckloads of mixed species and thicknesses can be shipped according to customer needs. Imported decking and flooring can also be put on the same truck as lumber orders. Don said his firm also has the ability to prepare an order and ship it by common carrier on a customer’s bill of lading.
“If a customer wants us to prepare an order for their customer and ship it on their bill of lading, we will do that,” he said. “We view that as order fulfillment for our distribution customers, and they don’t have to carry the inventory. Hardwood distribution yards are a very key part of our business, and we go out of our way to service those kinds of accounts.” Thompson Mahogany Co. has faced a number of challenges overseas in its quest to obtain hardwood lumber including World Wars I and II, depressions and foreign governmental changes. For example, Brazil banned the export of Mahogany in 1950.
Ipe decking and Santos Mahogany flooring are shown packaged ready to be shipped to a customer.
The ban was short lived, but disrupted the trade and stimulated the development of Peru and Africa as alternate sources. Those kinds of challenges still occur.
Don said the company does practice sustainable logging and is FSC certified.
Tropical forests are logged for only the most valuable trees, and approximately 90 percent of trees are left standing.
Thompson Mahogany Co. is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Assoc. and the International Wood Products Assoc. (IWPA) and avid supporter of C.U.R.E. (Conservation, Utilization, Reforestation, Education) and IWPA’s forest conservation efforts.
Thompson Mahogany is also importing substantially less Mahogany than was brought in a century ago. Don said that is because the market is smaller. The firm has broadened the scope of the business and supplies a much broader range of species and services than in the past.
This is a photo of Thompson Mahogany’s lumber drying facilities in Philadelphia.
In closing, Don said the essence of his business is to supply high quality imported hardwoods to distributors and other customers on a quick delivery schedule.
“That’s why we carry large inventories and replenish them regularly,” he said. “We understand that in these economic times controlling inventory and getting the lumber you need, when you need it, is of utmost importance. We listen to our customers, and focus on quality and service. Let us show you what we can do.”
For more information, contact Thompson Mahogany Co. at 215-624-1866, visit www.thomahog.com, or e-mail email@example.com.
These are some lumber stacks of Zebrawood, one of many species offered by Thompson Mahogany Co.