Francois Remiche is president and managing director at CIB American Hardwoods in Brussels, Belguim.
CIB: Celebrating 25 Years of American Imports
Brussells, Belgium–The recurring theme of the booming timber industry of the 1960s through late 1980s, giving way to the slump of the 90s and beyond, had its predictable affect of forcing some here in Brussells out of business completely, and causing others to adjust their business strategies. But CIB Wood thrived through it all, and recently marked its 25th year in business. Perhaps that is because the president and managing director of CIB Wood, Francois Remiche, appreciates trees, especially American hardwoods.
Remiche focused on finding a niche market that was rooted within the ongoing demand for only high quality hardwoods— American hardwoods, to be precise.
CIB imports a variety of species from New England to as far south as Alabama, which are: Cherry, Black Walnut, White Oak, Red Elm, Hard White Maple, Red Alder, Ash, and Yellow Poplar. He also imports yellow Pine. All timber is ordered in prime and super-prime (FAS) grades in 4/4 through 6/4, as well as 8/4, 10/4 and 12/4. The company offers 3/4- inch and 5/8- inch thicknesses.
Remiche personally inspects a shipment from the United States.
His decision to import American timber exclusively turned out to be sound enough, but the slumping worldwide industry was just one of many challenges for this university-educated economics major/entrepreneur/small businessman to overcome. His education has served him well in this regard.
CIB employs only six people on a fulltime basis and all of them work in sales or administrative capacities. The hard work of properly handling the pre-dried, 1.2 million board feet per year of inventory that is shipped to the facility in Antwerp is sub-contracted out. The contractors maintain a 4,500-square-meter property near the port that operates 40 to 44 hours per week, with Remiche personally taking care of the quality control. The contractors also make deliveries by truck to other parts of the continent. All deliveries are made between 24 and 72 hours.
The contractor arrangement also allows CIB to place a stronger emphasis on providing superior service for their customers. Remiche believes that outstanding service, aided by excellent communication, is a critical tenet of now widely-accepted free market economics.
The company has an annual turnover of 2.5 million board feet per year.
With an annual turnover of 2.5 million board feet per year, the contractors aren’t the only people who stay busy for Remiche. The sales staff, led by sales manager, Rita Massei, clearly has a lot to do with CIB’s success. Included in her job description are follow-up sales to the French market and those outside of Europe, overseeing execution of orders, visiting prospective customers, stock management and follow-up on purchasing. She is also responsible for press relations.
CIB recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. The firm has survived those 20 years in an economic environment that hasn’t been altogether friendly to entrepreneurs. Overcoming the extraordinary challenges, requires people with extraordinary ideas.
Francois Remiche has risen to those challenges as CIB American Hardwoods continues to thrive. To learn more about this company, go online to www.cibwood.com.
CIB Hardwoods has warehouse facilities in Antwerp, Belguim.