(L to R) Robert and Elise, Kenny and Brittany and Don and Sherri MacMaster at the IWPA Annual Meeting in Palm Springs.
ARGO FINE IMPORTS —Providing Knowledge, Service And Solutions
By Wayne Miller
Metairie, Louisiana— Don MacMaster, founder of Argo Fine Imports, is continuously searching for new strategies, new products and new directions. Hard work, determination, innovation and solid relationships have kept Argo Fine Imports in business for more than 30 years.
Argo’s product line includes imported plywoods from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Ecuador, China and Guyana. A majority of the items are panel products, but the firm does offer laminated products, value-added items, cut-to-size, platforms, mouldings, particleboard and melamine board.
“We also carry a line of Realtree® camo products, which is the No. 1 selling camo in the United States. We laminate the Realtree® camo patterns onto plywood and various other substrates,” MacMaster commented.
Buz Clanton and Kenny MacMaster handle sales at Argo Fine Imports in Metairie, Louisiana.
“We’re also participating in the camouflage clothing industry and we’re looking at new ideas right now for insulating various products.”
Past president of the International Hardwood Plywood Assoc., MacMaster has worked in the wood products industry since the 1970’s. “Argo has always been about service. The three segments of our business are OEM’s, wholesale distribution and retail. Our experience qualifies us to work with an individual or a company, because we understand what they do and we understand their processes,” MacMaster explained. “Argo is looking for the opportunity to come to the operation and see where we can help.”
The company brings inventories into all major ports in North America, utilizing break-bulk and container services. Ports included are: Vancouver, Washington, California, New Jersey, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida. “We have long standing relationships with overseas mills in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia that date back to 1983,” MacMaster informed. “We import from Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Ecuador, Russia, and China. Certain product types fit certain applications, and we’re not limited. We’re currently bringing in a new wood from Chile and some from Argentina, so basically we source the customer’s needs and then find the products that meet the requirement and at the same time we keep up with the changes relative to the dollar in the different countries. These are the types of things that keep us on top of the game.”
Including Don and his sons, Robert and Kenny MacMaster, the team consists of nine people in the sales department and four on the support team. Argo’s key employees include Joe Manguno, Dick Olano, Tod Wager, Bob Keep and Buz Clanton. “Joe has over 20 years experience in the industry and has been here for five years. He has a lot of sales ability and is a part of the new generation going forward,” MacMaster said. “We have sales representatives across the country and one in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada.”
(L To R) Robert, Don (seated) and Kenny MacMaster.
The firm’s integrated operating system allows for quick access to any product a customer might need. “If someone calls and we don’t have the product they’re looking for, we can look into our system at any of our customers who may have bought that product either sometime in the past or very recently and check to see if they can help us out. Our next option is to check our extensive list of importers that manufacture the product and see if they have anything available,” he said. “We’ve traded with people, replaced items, bought products then replaced them, the key is having a good core group of customers that trust us.”
Argo Fine Imports has quality control measures in place from every aspect of the process. “With the technology we have in place, we’ve been able to watch everything being manufactured at the mills,” Robert said. “We’re able to view the production while it’s operating over the computer.” “We have people in place overseas that take images of all of our inspected loads before they even get shipped here,” Kenny added. “They actually send us images of our material, so we see it before it’s shipped.
“We also have a quality control inspector that lives in each area to inspect the loads,” Robert continued. “We trust all of our mills but we like to take that extra precautionary measure.”
Argo Fine Imports flooring sales team at the Surfaces show in Las Vegas. (L to R) Robert MacMaster, Steve Safran, Bob Keep, Don MacMaster and Joe Manguno.
Argo Fine Imports is a member of the International Wood Products Assoc. (IWPA), the Hardwood Plywood Veneer Assoc. (HPVA) and the Tropical Forest Foundation. Don MacMaster is on the board of directors of the HPVA as well as the IWPA. His oldest son, Kenny, has served as the regional vice president of the IWPA for the past four years. “We follow all issues to inform our customers and our customers will tell you that we helped bring them to the forefront on formaldehyde and carb issues in advance, which gave their company the opportunity to make an easier transition with compliance,” Don said.
“We recently started a new program, which is basically scanning documentation for our customers, meaning that with the government’s regulations, we maintain records for three years. So all documents are scanned when they come in and put into PDF files. If someone needs a carb certificate from a year or two ago, we can supply it,” he confirmed.
With diversified products, a solid broad customer base and strategic business decisions, Argo Fine Imports feels it has adapted quite well to the current economic conditions. “The past 18 months has been the toughest market segment I’ve seen throughout my 35 years,” Don explained. “I’m happy to report that Argo has profited during the entire 18 months.”
“We look forward to the changes coming about in our business,” MacMaster said. MacMaster’s sons, Kenny and Robert are onboard the family business and prepared to take a new path down an already successful road. “We have a sizeable amount of industry knowledge,” MacMaster said. “We know what it takes to laminate a 23 gram rice paper on high or low pressure laminate and we know the best woods to use for particular applications. Our knowledge of the industry and our products are what sets us apart from others. We’re not just selling wood, we’re selling knowledge and solutions to problems. That’s what’s helped us survive over the years and that’s what we will continue to do in the future.”
Argo Fine Imports “Florcore”, extreme underlayment panels.
For more information visit www.argofineimports.com or contact (504) 828-0943.