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Shane Cook and Stan Smith standing in front of Midwest Walnut’s lumber ready for prompt shipment.
MIDWEST WALNUT Rebuilds And Further Expands

By Terry Miller

Council Bluffs, Iowa—Since their humble beginnings in 1931, Midwest Walnut, headquartered here, has seen steady moderate growth in the global market for their Walnut lumber, flooring, furniture squares, panels, dimension, high end gun blanks, and veneer and sawlogs.

In the winter of 2009 an ice storm caused the company to lose 40 percent of its plant located in Willow Springs, Mo. A sawmill, out-bound buildings and key storage areas were destroyed. Continued on page 18

Procurement Manager Stan Smith said he thought the ice storm caused more damage than a fire. “A fire would have been isolated to one area of your facility. With the buildings down, production was interrupted throughout the facility instead of just one location.”

Producing Walnut lumber for both export and domestic markets, Midwest hauled more than 1.2 million board feet of logs to their Council Bluffs facility, where they are headquartered, for processing and began building anew.

Golden State Reload’s Juan Gonzalez, forklift operator; Diane Johnston, manager; and Ramon Covarrubia, supervisor.
“Basically, we were only down for 90 days,” Smith explained. “We lost a sawmill, five storage buildings and an inspection building. In the recovery process we rebuilt. We installed computerized scanning and set works and added an automatic slab saw.”

Midwest Walnut operates three sawmills and two resaws. Prior to the ice storm, the company ran two inspection lines, which they have now doubled to four. “We now operate two kiln-dried lines and two green inspection lines,” Smith said. “We have a 7-foot band mill in Council Bluffs and a circle band mill with a smaller mill at the Willow Springs location that is designed to catch smaller logs to feed the resaw. That mill couldn’t handle the larger logs at the time so we shipped them to Council Bluffs,” he said. “Now we’ve upgraded that mill as well, installing a top saw and we’re able to cut bigger logs now on both mills.”

Having served distribution yards on the West Coast for a number of years, Midwest Walnut wanted to further their commitment to their West Coast customers by putting inventories in Golden State Reload located on the Peterman Lumber property in Fontana, California. In 2008 Midwest Walnut was the first of several mills to put material in Golden State Reload. Smith said, “The biggest reason we moved into California was to help our customers, again being distribution yards, manage their inventories in these challenging times.”

Larry Mether, vice president of sales, markets Midwest Walnut products to more than 20 countries worldwide.
Ranging from 4/4 to 20/4 in Face & Better to No. 2 Common in Walnut along with some 4/4 & 6/4 Cedar, Midwest Walnut offers a full array of products in Golden State Reload. “The relationship with Golden State Reload has been a tremendous benefit,” Smith said. Diane Johnston with Golden State Reload said, “From the start Midwest Walnut and its great team of employees have steadily put the time and effort into building a good customer base on the West Coast. They have been successful due to their business mindset and core values. Many wholesale and distribution yard customers have come to trust the Midwest Walnut quality with no shortcuts. Midwest Walnut is a great company that offers stability in product as well as service.”

In the first quarter of 2010 they added a 350’x150’ covered air-drying facility to the Willow Springs location. “We have the capacity to put roughly a million feet of air dried lumber underneath the roof,” Smith said. “We keep all 5/4 through 16/4 Face and Better under cover. We realize that we are handling a very valuable raw material and we take all precautions to make certain we don’t lose the quality in the process of air drying as well as drying and conditioning through the kilns and steamers. “We use U•C Coatings Anchorseal, waxing every board prior to steaming and after steaming,” he explained.

With a seasoned team of log buyers, Midwest Walnut selects quality raw materials. Sourcing directly from independent producers across the central United States, fresh cut logs are trucked and railed to the company’s rail spur at both locations where they are debarked and rough sawn into lumber.

Once a thorough inspection is completed on the kiln-dried lumber, the product is packaged and prepared for shipment. Shipping is completed via rail, truck or container from each plant to wholesalers, manufacturers and other specialty producers around the world.
Once a thorough inspection is completed on the kiln-dried lumber, the product is packaged and prepared for shipment. Shipping is completed via rail, truck or container from each plant to wholesalers, manufacturers and other specialty producers around the world. “Thirty percent of our sales is targeting the domestic market,” Smith said. “The other 70 percent is dedicated to the export markets in Europe, Asia and recently the Middle East. Currently we ship to approximately 26 different countries. We recently returned from a show in Guangzhou, China where we displayed to support our agents and importers by talking to them and their customers about the manufacturing process of the products that we produce and that they market for us.”

Midwest Walnut’s products have shown up in high profile and interesting places such as banks, hotels and museums through the distribution yard channels they serve.

Midwest Walnut is a member of the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA), the American Walnut Manufacturers Association, Indiana Hardwood Lumber Association (IHLA), National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and the Missouri Forest Products Association. For more information visit www.midwestwalnut.com or contact 712- 325-9191.
With a seasoned team of log buyers, Midwest Walnut selects quality raw materials. Sourcing directly from independent producers across the central United States, fresh cut logs are trucked and railed to the company’s rail spur at both locations where they are debarked and rough sawn into lumber.

 
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