Ted Dergousoff (left) and Sid Smith look over some marketing materials.
FOREST GROVE LUMBER Transitions And Expands
By Wayne Miller
McMinnville, Ore.—With the ever-changing economic challenges we face, many suppliers in the forest products industry have expanded their product lines and diversified their services in an effort to reach potential new markets and enhance products for existing markets. Forest Grove Lumber Company (FGL) is taking a different approach.
Previously a distributor of commodity products such as 2-inch through 6-inch dimension and timbers, the firm has transitioned throughout the last two years into specialists of specific timber-based products. Chief Operating Officer Ted Dergousoff explained, “As the economy began to change, our forethought was that we needed to focus on our strong suits, the things that we are best at. We didn’t want to be a multimass marketer so we focused on the timber side of our business. Specifically we eliminated the dimensional lumber and concentrated on the upper end of the timber trade.”
This aerial view shows FGL’s 25-acre facility in McMinnville, Ore.
Forest Grove Lumber Co.’s president and CEO, Sid Smith added, “We’ve transitioned out of the commodity distribution business and expanded considerably on the timbers aspect of our business. Primarily we are focusing on higher grades, No. 1 Structural and Better, free of heart, and now we are probably the largest distributor of high-grade Douglas Fir timbers in North America.”
Both Forest Grove Lumber and the people operating it have a long history in the forest products industry. Forest Grove Lumber began as a sawmill in Forest Grove, Ore., in 1957 and today operates a 20-acre wholesale distribution facility in McMinnville. This site maintains an expansive inventory with diverse manufacturing capabilities that includes eight state-of-the-art Radio Frequency Vacuum kilns and their original Accuruff® machines.
The process at FGL begins with the selection of high-quality, structurally sound timbers. Seasoned buyers work closely with the supplier mills to ensure timbers are cut beyond the requirements of the No. 1 and Better grades and are free of heart center to meet FGL’s stringent requirements.
Ismael Perez uses FGL’s Dario saw to cut custom corbels for a customer.
During a ‘pre-sort process’ each green piece is inspected, and sorted for their best final use. The best candidates for drying continue on to the Radio Frequency Vacuum kilns to become Tru-Dry®.
Once drying has reached completion the pieces must meet structural and appearance requirements to be considered Tru- Dry. Each piece then goes to a timber sorting line where nine moisture readings are taken for every lineal foot. For statistical purposes, measurements are recorded and compared to previous entries.
The firm’s Heatwave Frequency Vacuum technology heats and removes water from timbers in the dry kilns. “A typical charge to dry timbers 8-inch and thicker will take five to six days, 3-inch through 6-inch will take four days and that’s going from green to maximum 15 percent moisture content,” Smith said.
“The Radio Frequency kilns are designed for timbers but can be used in other applications such as re-drying, kiln wets, dimension lumber and veneer wets,” he continued. “With the coming changes in environmental laws with cap and trade, we think our technology will have a large following because it is a closed loop system and doesn’t emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.” As stated on the company website, “The drying process only emits clean, charcoal filtered and pH balanced water into the waste water system and the filtering process captures more Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) than conventional kiln drying.”
Pablo Mendoza pulls pieces of Tru-Dry® from Forest Grove Lumber Company’s (FGL) 70,000-square foot warehouse to be processed for an order. The company is located in McMinnville, Ore.
FGL expanded their Tru-Dry timber production and processing capabilities with the addition of two new high-powered Heatwave kilns and an advanced sort line in 2008 and 2009.
Many of the products FGL manufactures are used aesthetically in addition to structurally by custom builders, particularly timber framers. As for the company’s product capabilities, Smith said, “A lot of customers want a resawn look or a number of different textures. Depending on the customer’s specifications we can supply a surfaced product, a band-sawn product, a circle sawn appearance product or a hand hewn appearance product. Whatever look the customer wants to achieve we can deliver it. We also have our trademark process called Accuruff®, which is a coarser band sawn look for those applications that need something a little courser.” Accuruff’s rustic finish is available on one, two, three or four sides.
President Sid Smith has been a partner in FGL since 1991. Smith’s history in the lumber industry began in 1965 at J.W. Copeland Lumber Co. in Oregon City, Ore., where he was a manager. During his career he worked for North Pacific and helped start their Shelter Products division in Portland. Smith founded Idaho Pacific Lumber Co. in 1979 where he acted in his role as president until his retirement in 1993. Smith returned to the industry with FGL after only two years of retirement. Vice-President Jack Burnard rejoined the company in 1975 to help his father keep the books for a couple of weeks. He has remained with the company ever since. After a long career in Canada’s lumber industry, COO Ted Dergousoff joined FGL in 2004.
The FGL team consists of approximately 50 employees with 22 a part of the company’s sales team.
FGL also provides 19 pre-designed corbel patterns, arches, knee braces and other custom milled products. The company’s supply network is made up of more than ten sawmills in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Beto Martinez picks up a lift of surfaced Tru-Dry for its final inspection before packaging.
FGL’s timbers have “landed” in some interesting places. “Some of the ultra rich movie stars decided they wanted to have this special look in California and we’ve had several big homes that we built there, or furnished the timber for, which gives us a special satisfaction,” Smith explained. “Our product is spread in applications throughout the United States on special jobs that we feel very proud of having supplied. We’ve got something very special and select. Some of the larger timbers that are needed can only be found in the Northwest and we have the good fortune of experience and ties to a lot of mills that give us the ability to find some of these very, very difficult timbers. Now these are not everyday occurrences, but we end up having some very special orders all over the United States.”
FGL is a member and strong supporter of the West Coast Lumber Inspection Bureau (WCLIB) and a member of the Timber Frame Guild. The company’s special products coordinator, Mike Burnard, serves on the Portland Wholesale Lumber Wholesalers Association’s board as it’s president.
For more information visit www.fglco.com or contact 800-647-9663.