(L) Penn-Sylvan’s Red Oak stored under the company’s T-Sheds and ® kiln dried lumber ready for shipment.
An International Success—PENN-SYLVAN Offers Quality And Variety
By Paul Miller Jr.
Spartansburg, Pennslyvania— The key to Penn-Sylvan International’s success is two-fold: the seasoned experience of the company workforce in both domestic and export hardwood markets and the unrivaled quality of northwest Pennsylvania’s hardwood region. Boasting a near perfect combination of climate and soil conditions for hardwoods, this region of Pennsylvania offers a large combination stock of Black Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, Poplar, Hickory, Ash, Beech and Walnut found in North America. Customers are based worldwide, including furniture factories, plywood factories, stair-tread factories, panel and dimension factories, wholesale firms, sawmills, veneer factories, and distribution yards.
Company headquarters is located just west of Spartansburg, adjacent to their concentration yard and dry kiln facilities. The company also owns and operates two other sawmill facilities, as well as a cut-to-size pallet operation, all located within the Allegheny Region of northwest Pennsylvania. The veneer log yard is located four miles south of Spartansburg where logs are separated into various categories of veneer quality. Penn-Sylvan’s lumberyard features a grading station, a well maintained
President Bill Reese and an employee are photographed here measuring and trimming a large Red Oak log at Penn-Sylvan International.
air drying yard, two large T-sheds, 350,000 board foot capacity of dry kilns, and weather tight dry storage sheds. Fresh sawn green lumber is stored under roof after being inspected, trimmed, and placed on Breeze DriedTM sticks. The company processes 50,000 board feet of fresh sawn Maple, sawing Monday through Wednesday. It is then graded and placed on sticks by Friday morning and then loaded into one of their specially designed Nardi kilns during that afternoon. Red and White Oak bundles are kept in T-sheds after being put on sticks. Proper air-drying procedures and good mixtures of other species like Cherry, Ash, and Poplar enable Penn- Sylvan to kiln dry 600,000 board feet of Pennsylvania’s finest hardwoods each month. Annual combined production is 12 million feet of green lumber, kiln-dried lumber, and select veneer logs.
Each sawmill is uniquely designed to manufacture accurately sawn boards in the most cost and yield efficient manner possible. While they have “ultra” thin (.092) kerf head rigs and resaws to maximize the yield of high dollar logs, they also operate a low cost, low maintenance circle mill to process the lower value species and logs. An additional advantage is the relationship that has developed with their cut-to-size board operation. It is common practice for these mills to be cutting four or five different sizes of cants from the same batch of logs, which further improves upon the yield of each log. Penn-Sylvan’s mills have been pioneers in the pattern sawing of hardwood lumber, as well as the ability to offer large timbers— including some as large as 12” x 12” x 24’ designed for the post and beam housing industry.
(L to R) Mike Reese, comptroller, Bill Reese, president, Jay Reese, vice president and Marc Reese, secretary and general counsel for Penn-Sylvan International at a recent company gathering.
The cut-to-size pallet board operation is located adjacent to their Brush Run sawmill just south of Spartansburg. They not only supply boards and runners to pallet manufacturers, they also produce many specialty wooden parts such as tomato and survey stakes, custom hardwood box parts, and specialty “heat treated” timbers and pallets used for heavy equipment shipments. Billy Byler has been with the company since its beginning and handles purchases of hardwood cants customer sales while directing the mill’s cut-to-size operations. Allen Slaubaugh is general manager of sawmill operations in charge of log purchases and sawing schedules. “One of our company’s primary assets is our close working relationship with the local Amish population. This offers them the benefit of training in National Hardwood Lumber Association’s (NHLA) grading rules and export lumber presentation standards,” Bill Reese said. “In turn, their work ethics have provided us with a skilled work force dedicated to the production of top quality material.”
Instead of purchasing standing timber, Penn-Sylvan buys logs only from regional independent loggers in addition to purchasing green lumber from select local mills. Working closely with loggers and local sawmills eliminates potential problems incurred by purchase of “off species” of Oaks. Also eradicated is lumber with mineral or gum, whether purchased as whole logs or sawn lumber, and is always evaluated for more than just grade or specie. Avoiding the timber market affords them the opportunity to maintain a well-balanced inventory and quickly accumulate volume amounts of certain species to meet specific customer demands.
Penn-Sylvan’s debarked Hickory logs are being loaded for export to China.
Bill Reese, president and founder of the company, has been in the hardwood business since 1965, when he graduated from the NHLA inspection school in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to starting Penn-Sylvan, Reese was the President and General Manager of Spartywood Products, Inc. Serving for several years on the Small Business Council for the Federal Reserve Board, Bill has received numerous awards for exporting and business achievements. A long-term member of the Penn-York Lumbermen’s Club, The Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers (AHMI), and the NHLA, he continues to stay active, attending most meetings held by each group. In addition to the daily management of the log procurement and sawmill operations, Bill personally selects and sells all veneer logs, and supervises overseas lumber sales.
Julie Beers, export sales and logistics manager, who has over two decades of experience in overseas marketing, organizes all export shipments, and assists with overseas correspondence and sales. At present, the company exports over 300 containers annually to companies worldwide located within Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. “Having a direct overseas market for veneer logs affords Penn-Sylvan the luxury of competing for the best local timber tracts. The quality of trees found in our area gives us an edge in assuring customer satisfaction,” Bill Reese explains. “By offering a high quality product and maintaining consistent ethical standards, we are building solid relationships with our international customers - absolutely vital for further expansion into the market for our veneer logs and kiln-dried lumber.”
Vice President Jay Reese standing in front of “pattern sawn” Hickory.
Mike Reese oversees all of the lumberyard operations, personally controlling all steps of kiln-drying, as well as, handling some of the lumber purchasing and sales duties. After completing a six-year period of service with the United States Navy in 1987, Mike entered the hardwood business, spending two years designing and selling handheld computers used for hardwood applications. Mike joined Penn-Sylvan when the company originated in 1995, serving as a yard manager and kiln operator for Penn-Sylvan and Boa-Franc, a Quebec-based flooring manufacturer.
Jay Reese started his career as a lumber inspector at Spartywood, after graduating from the NHLA’s inspection school in 1984. Rejoining the family business after seven years as a sawmill manager and salesperson for a major hardwood producer, Jay currently handles domestic lumber sales. He has served as vice president of sales since 2007. Currently serving as president of the Penn-York Lumbermen’s Club while acting as the club’s representative to the Hardwood Federation, he is additionally involved with meetings with AHMI and NHLA. While Jay keeps an office at the company’s headquarters, he spends most of his time traveling both locally and nationally; making sure all inbound lumber is of the highest quality possible while working with new and existing customers to focus upon better solutions for their hardwood needs.
Close working relationships with the local Amish population provide Penn-Sylvan International with a skilled workforce dedicated to top quality production.
With the downturn in the global economy slowing production plans for many, Penn-Sylvan has continued to move forward, completing a sawmill expansion project and anticipating their FSC certification in July of this year. Bill Reese is very pleased with the company’s position, adding that “the increased sawing capacity, as well as the addition of FSC certified logs and lumber to our product line, will allow us to better serve our existing customers as well as expand our markets as demand increases.”
For more information about Penn- Sylvan International visit www.penn-sylvan.com or contact (814) 827-8271.