Gene Almendinger is chief executive officer for the firm, and Daniel Almendinger is president of the operation.
HOLMES Makes Improvement to Show Customers’ Value
By Paul Miller Jr.
Columbia City, Indiana—Holmes and Co. Inc., located here, is an operation that has prospered since its founding in 1946. “Even though the company has grown into a large forest products manufacturer, Holmes & Co. still manages to treat each customer as if he or she were the only customer,” sales manager Mista Feist said.
The company was founded when David Holmes bought the former Colter Bros. Lumber Co. in Kendallville, Ind., near the Michigan and Ohio borders. In 1954, the Kendallville mill burned down, but Holmes was undaunted. He bought another mill, which was the Columbia City Hardwood Company in Columbia City, Ind., the present site of Holmes & Co., Inc.
The Holmes family rebuilt the facility in 1975, making it modern and efficient. They installed a green chain, dry kilns and pre-dryers at their 20-acre facility, which is located 50 miles from the Michigan state line. In 1983, as the firm continued to grow, Gene Almendinger, who now acts as the chief executive officer, became a partner at the operation, and in 2001 he became the sole owner.
Throughout the years, the company has made an effort to recognize the need for modernization and has taken steps to make the necessary changes.
In 1986, Holmes and Co., added a dry lumber inspection building, a wood fire boiler, and a 750,000 board foot capacity pre-dryer in 1989. In 1990, seven 50,000 board foot capacity Irvington-Moore dry kilns were added and in 1993, the firm installed a Newman 282 surfacer, new warehouses and additional office space.
Since 1996, Holmes & Co. has been on a mission to pave almost their entire operation with asphalt. So far they have paved eight acres of the property.
Holmes & Co. Inc., employees 50 individuals, some of whom have been with the firm for over 30 years. Photographed here, Daniel Almendinger, president, Mista Fiest, sales manager, and William Shelmadine, mill superintendent.
“We thought that by paving our facility, it would provide us with a cleaner workplace and make it easier for our employees to get from point A to point B,” Almendinger said.
In 1991, the firm installed a second wood waste boiler system and in 2002, they added a Clearman 36-inch log turner in their six-foot band mill. By 2007 Holmes & Co. installed 2 additional computerized 35,000 board foot capacity dry kilns from SII Dry Kilns located in Lexington, N.C.
Holmes & Co. has plans to install a couple more small dry kilns. “Right now we are maintaining an average of 2 million board feet of kiln-dried lumber and 2 million board feet of green lumber in our inventory. All lumber that is 6/4 and above is pre-dried before it goes in the kilns,” Almendinger explained.
Holmes & Co. Inc., specializes in the production of heavy stock, offering 4/4 through 16/4 and manufacturing approximately 9 million board feet of lumber a year. Species at the facility include, Red and White Oak, Walnut, Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple, Poplar, Hickory and Ash.
Holmes & Co. Inc., specializes in the production of heavy stock, offering 4/4 through 16/4 and manufacturing approximately 9 million board feet of lumber a year. Species at the facility include, Red and White Oak, Walnut, Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple, Poplar, Hickory and Ash. The company’s head timber buyer, Dale Arbruster is photographed here.
“We are one of the few operations that offer 12/4 to 16/4 stock. When you get into the really thick stock, there are several variables that take place…where the timber was growing, the grain of the lumber and how it was sawn. We take all of those factors into consideration when we manufacture it. It takes us about a year to process the heavy stock,” said Almendinger.
Most of Holmes’ timber comes from a 200- mile radius of the company. Consisting of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.
Holmes & Co. Inc., exports a portion of their 4/4 through 16/4 products by container and truck. Loading containers are handled on site at the facility. Some of their products are marketed to the West Coast area and are transported from Holmes & Co. by container to Chicago, Ill., where they are shipped by rail.
Holmes & Co. Inc., employees 50 individuals, some of whom have been with the firm for over 30 years. Aside from Gene and Daniel Almendinger, other key employees include: Mista Feist, sales manager; Stephanie Greer, office manger; Bob Greer, dry kiln supervisor; J.B. Greer, lumber inspector; William Shelmadine, mill superintendent; Dale Armbruster, head timber buyer; Chad Mills, quality control and purchasing; Ray Thompson, wholesale manager, sales representative and kiln operator; and Elie Ghanem, director of export sales.
President and log buyer Daniel Almendinger photographed here with 12/4-inch White Oak logs.
The company is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Assoc. (NHLA), the American Walnut Manufacturers Assoc. (AWMA) and the Indiana Classified Forest Program (ICFP).
The years 2008 and 2009 have brought some very trying times for the entire lumber industry. Moving forward and having a positive attitude can be difficult during these times. “Hopefully, the year 2010 and the future will bring a more stable and sustainable business cycle, not just for the lumber industry, but for all of the nation’s businesses,” Almendinger said. Holmes & Co. Inc.’s renovations have proven that they are striving to provide their customers with quality products and service. Gene Almendinger added, “We will continue to improve our facility as needed…whatever it takes to keep our customers coming back.”
Mista Feist serves as the controller at Holmes & Co., and Ray Thompson is the wholesale manager, a sales representative and a kiln operator.
Holmes & Co. maintains an average of 2 million board feet of kiln-dried lumber and 2 million board feet of green lumber.
An example of Holmes & Co.’s high quality Oak logs utilized in producing thick lumber.