Front row (left to right): Woody and Laura Buchanan; Tammy Robbins; and Addie Tucker. Back row (left to right): Ridge DeWitt; Doug Saunders; Tim Pope and Rick McCreary
GRANITE HARDWOODS Delivers On Their Promises
By Gary Miller
Granite Falls, N.C.—Granite Hardwoods, a Hardwood concentration yard located here, has been serving cabinet, moulding and millwork manufacturers and other distribution yards for approximately 45 years.
The company was established in 1965 on 15 acres of land. Today, Granite Hardwoods covers 29 acres maintaining 3 million board feet of kiln dried lumber inventory.
The firm offers 4/4 through 8/4 Euro Beech, Red and White Oak, Cherry and Hard Maple; and 4/4 through 10/4 Soft Maple, Ash, and Alder. Most of the lumber Granite processes at their yard is Appalachian stock. Seventy percent of Granite’s Hardwood lumber inventory is Face and Better with 6 to 8 percent moisture content.
Ed Herron oversees Granite Hardwoods lumber inspectors, he is involved in training, as well as being a lumber salesperson.
Operating four 9-hour days and one 4- hour day weekly, Granite Hardwoods delivers product with its own trucking fleet. “One of our specialties is mixed containers and mixed truckloads,” green lumber buyer and salesman Rick McCreary said. Besides selling hardwood lumber to customers in the United States, the company also exports some of its kiln dried hardwood lumber to customers located in Europe and Asia. “On the domestic front, we sell lumber to the one-pack-at-a-time customer all the way up to the trailer load user. Because of the grade mix, our export market has historically been to Europe simply because we are heavy to the Face and Better lumber products. More recently though, the Asian market is growing and is now buying some of the higher grades, and, a lot of our hardwood lumber is now being exported to customers throughout Asia,” he remarked. McCreary also pointed out that most of the lumber for export goes through the port of Charleston, South Carolina. “Most of our export bound lumber is shipped to overseas agents; however, we do ship some hardwood lumber directly to overseas hardwood distribution/concentration lumber yards and end users.”
“We have seven dry kilns with 500,000 board feet per charge of dry kiln capacity,” green lumber buyer and salesman Rick McCreary said. Granite Hardwoods receives lumber from sawmills located mostly in the Appalachian region, and as far North as Maine. McCreary also purchases some lumber from the Midwest as well. “When the green lumber is delivered we unload it by one of our Hyster® forklifts, inspect and grade it. Next we stack it on one of two stackers and the lumber is put on sticks under one of our four T-sheds. We air-dry the lumber
A company truck used for prompt deliveries.
for efficiency purposes before it goes through one of our kilns. After the lumber is kiln-dried it is graded a second time, sorted, tallied and put on a truck for shipment. Purchasing agents like our lumber because it is clean, bright and flat.”
Granite’s four T-sheds are each 400-feet long by 30-feet wide. The company has additional fan capacity in each of their dry kilns in order to increase the air velocity for species that require more rapid airflow. Equipment owned and operated at Granite Hardwoods and its sister company, called The Hardwood Company, include: approximately ten Hyster® forklifts; four company owned trucks for prompt delivery of products; seven Irvington Moore dry kilns with SII controls; a Newman S382 planer; a straight-line ripsaw and a wood waste boiler system. The Hardwood Company, has an office and large warehouse on the same tract of land where Granite Hardwoods is located, as well as having several offices in other North Carolina towns so they can more easily distribute their wood products to their various customers.
A partial view of two of Granite’s T-sheds. They have a total of four T- sheds at their yard.
“Our Hyster® forklifts are used for a multitude of applications including: unloading trucks of lumber bought from various suppliers; moving and storing products like hardwood lumber, hardwood flooring, mouldings; doors or windows on the premises; and loading lumber, or other products on trucks for delivering to customers. We find Hyster® forklifts are durable and easy to maintain,” McCreary added.
With approximately 40 employees key personnel include: Woody Buchanan, president and general manager; Doug Saunders, shipping manager; Tim Pope, quality control and yard management; Laura Buchanan, accounts receivables; Tammy Robbins, logistics and inventory administration; and Ridge DeWitt, Ed Herron and McCreary are the sales representatives. “The length of service of our key employees averages 23 years,” McCreary said. “These 16 employees have a combined service of 370 years total.”
Although Granite Hardwoods has been operating autonomously for approximately 15 years, they attribute a lot of their success to sister company, Buchanan Hardwoods. “Granite was born out of the legacy of Buchanan Hardwoods and Woody Buchanan’s grandfather, who was known as ‘Mr. Buck’ by everyone,” explained Ridge DeWitt.
Jim Caldwell is in charge of making sure the dry kilns and boiler run smoothly and takes care of the environmental permitting. He’s also in charge of the air-drying facilities.
As for remaining competitive in today’s challenging markets, McCreary said diversity and innovation is key. “What we have seen and experienced over the last 10 years is more specialization, and obviously, we know that we’ll have to continue to be specialized to meet market demands. We know that specialization doesn’t always mean getting bigger, sometimes being more specialized means getting smaller. We have increased both our efficiencies and ability to do special things with our lumber like width and color sorts as well as other things. We’ve really become much more specialized in that process, although a bit smaller in terms of our overall volume. We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve been able to operate within the parameters of our own capital resource, without having to borrow from banks,” he explained.
McCreary said an advantage that Granite Hardwoods has is their flexibility. “We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that we meet our customers’ needs. One of our strengths is that when we make a promise—we deliver,” he pointed out. “Our deliveries are always on time and we communicate very effectively all along the line with our customers. We’re large enough to take care of most any order and small enough to pay attention to detail, which ultimately gives us the flexibility to be involved hands-on. We take the time to help a customer make a good decision. We’ll send digital photographs of our lumber, tallies by e-mail, or do whatever the customer needs to help that person make a good and informed decision about their lumber purchases. We pride ourselves on our promises. We guarantee we’ll deliver on our promises.”
Randy Robbins inspecting lumber on the dry chain.
With four National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) lumber inspectors onboard, the firm utilizes portable hand held tallies. “We use the portable tallies both on our dry end and on one of our lumber stackers,” McCreary said. “On the green end we have a computerized fixed tally system that automatically generates a lumber pack ticket for each pack of lumber with the number of pieces, grades, board footage and any other details about the lumber.”
Employees at Granite Hardwoods have many years of experience and most are cross-trained. “We have inspectors who can also do window installations for The Hardwood Company,” McCreary said. “One of our salespeople, Ed Herron, is also a certified lumber inspector. In fact, Ed oversees our lumber inspectors here, and he is involved in training them, as well as being a lumber salesperson too. Our shipping manager, Doug Saunders, can also fill in other areas. Most of our people are qualified to perform three or four different jobs.” The employees of Granite Hardwoods Inc. like the words that are used in some of the firm’s advertising that says, “No one in the hardwood business has a name more solid than Granite.”
This is a partial view of the dry chain at the firm.
Granite Hardwoods Inc. is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA), Hardwood Manufacturers Association (HMA), Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Association, Southern Appalachian Multiple Use Council, and the Ruffed Grouse Society. For more information visit www.granitehardwoods.com or call 800- 841-0740.
A partial view of The Hardwood Company’s showroom in Granite Falls, N.C. is shown here. This firm is the sister company of Granite Hardwoods and they distribute products such as hardwood flooring, hardwood mouldings, doors and windows to various customers.