Tewksbury, Masssachusetts–Holt & Bugbee exports approximately 1.5 million board feet of hardwoods annually. “We offer grades of No. 1 Common and Better in widths of 4/4 through 12/4,” said Holt & Bugbee’s President Phillip Pierce, who noted considerable demand for domestic hardwoods, including White Oak in Europe, the Near East and Far East. Holt & Bugbee offers the imported hardwood species of Spanish Cedar, European Beech, Baltic Birch, Jatoba, African Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany, Sapele, Teak and Utile.
The firm also has a broad array of domestic hardwood species, which include Alder, Ash, Aspen, Basswood, Birch, Butternut, Hickory, Hard and Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, Poplar and Walnut. Additionally, the firm offers softwood species that include Cypress, Eastern White Pine, Fir and Aromatic Cedars.
Lumber industry entrepreneur John Cutter knew a thing or two about international networking in 1825 when he supplied a New England ship captain with blocks of ice in exchange for transporting South American Mahogany logs back for rough cutting at Cutter’s Charlestown, Mass., sawmill. Soon after, the company Cutter founded was renamed for his son-in-law, Stephen Holt, and business associate John Bugbee.
Annually, H&B dries about 20 million board feet through 15 kilns located in the Tewksbury, MA and Mt. Braddock, PA facilities.
Company headquarters shifted to Tewksbury in 1967 to better serve a growing customer base. Holt & Bugbee Co. added a second location in Mt. Braddock, Pa., in 1994 and a third operation in Boyertown, Pa., in 1999.
Holt & Bugbee Co. has convenient access to North Appalachian hardwoods and ideal location (less than an hour from Philadelphia) for serving customers in the mid-Atlantic region. Fast-forward five generations and many industry changes and today Holt & Bugbee Co. does business coast-to-coast and around the world. The company keeps 195 employees busy through 40-hour weeks at all three locations, with 135 of the staff located in the home office.
“Operating as distribution yards with high-end millwork services is the best way for us to fulfill orders from our primary customer base,” Pierce explained. “Timely supply and delivery of smaller specialty orders defines the future for us as a distribution company in the lumber industry.”
Doing business by phone and the Internet is a growing necessity for viable businesses. Nevertheless, company president Phillip Pierce also maintains face-to-face transactions continue to be an important feature of Holt & Bugbee’s working operation. More than half of the company’s 22 sales persons conduct business on-the- road. The company’s domestic trading area includes the New York/New England and Mid-Atlantic areas into Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Two of the company’s six lumber buyers are on the road purchasing rough green timber from sawmills throughout the mid- Atlantic. Holt & Bugbee’s website boasts that the company offers some of the finest Cherry lumber in the world.
The Weinig Raimann rip saw can be programmed to handle up to 10 width sorts.
“We purchase from New England and Appalachian producers - some of them we have been dealing with for many years,” said Pierce.
Approximately 25 million board feet of lumber passes through Holt & Bugbee’s facilities and distribution yards in a year’s time. Truck load lots are brought to the Tewksbury or Mt. Braddock facilities where the lots are stacked with kiln sticks between each course of lumber and either air dried or kiln-dried in any of 15 kilns – nine at the Tewksbury site, six at the Mt. Braddock location. Lumber is kiln dried to six to eight percent moisture content. Following inspection, lumber is sorted on an automated grading station according to customer specifications. Equipment used at the company’s locations includes: Sanborn and Pendu stackers; Sanborn and Reckart grading stations; Irvington-Moore, Kilntec and American Wood Dryers kilns; a SII pre-dryer, Weinig moulders, Pinheiro, Newman and Yates planers, Marine Johnson, Pinheiro and Ramin rip-saws, McDonough Re-saw, Delle Vedove UV primer and profile sander; and Challoner double-end tenoner.
Approximately 35 percent of Holt & Bugbee’s lumber is sold as kiln-dried rough, with another 65 percent receiving surfacing and ripping at the company’s finishing mills. A great deal of this material is processed through the moulders into a wide range of products, from bases and casings, chair rails, crown moulding, panel mouldings, picture frames and more. “We have one customer who turns mouldings into wooden crosses,” Pierce noted. Moulding products are outlined in Holt & Bugbee’s print and 132-page online catalogs.
Once a product is ready for delivery, shipping expediters prepare the order for shipment on one of Holt & Bugbee’s 14 trucks. Delivery routes are complex and can encompass shipments from one to 10 or 12 customers before returning to the distribution yards.
The Delle Vedove catalytic UV primer and profile sander can process up to 20,000 lineal feet per day.
Final placement of Holt & Bugbee’s most specialized profile and priming orders have graced such locations as the British Museum in the United Kingdom, universities such as Harvard, the Time Warner building in New York City, and even a custommoulding cabinet (from some of the finest Cherry in the world) for Tiffany’s Jewelers. Other high-end products include wider-width custom plank flooring in Walnut or rustic White Oak and even re-sawn Chestnut beams for millionaire New England estates, reclaimed from 100-year-old barn beams.
Pierce sees the future of Holt & Bugbee lying in several long-range areas. The first is expansion of the company’s sales force. “That’s why we added the Boyertown location,” he said, “to reach into the Delaware, Maryland, Ohio and Virginia area.”
Pierce sees Holt & Bugbee’s future growth also emerging from the company’s increasing ability to custom design and produce high-end mouldings and other millwork. “For a distribution yard, we dry a high percentage of our own timber,” he noted. “We even have the ability to dry the thicker 8/4, 10/4 and 12/4 Red and White Oak lumber.”
Custom-design moulding orders are developed on a computer-aided-design (CAD) system. The knives are custom-ground by a team of six fulltime craftsmen. “Bulk orders are becoming easier to outsource throughout the industry,” said Pierce. Customers of custom millwork include high-end retail lumberyards, as well as contractors for high-end commercial work such as public buildings, libraries and high-end restaurants.
Pierce’s plans to reduce Holt & Bugbee’s dependence on fossil fuel are in complete alignment with the company’s parallel green initiative. “We’ve been a member of the Forest Stewardship Council for three years now,” he said. “All our drying processes are 100 percent fueled by wood waste.”
Molder heads are prepared to run thousands of custom profiles on 8 Weinig molders.
In addition to Phillip Pierce as president, other key personnel at Holt & Bugbee Co. include Roger Pierce Jr., vice president; William Collins, vice president; Wayne Blaisdell, vice president; Eric D’Annolfo, general manager at Mt. Braddock; Peter Burns, general manager at Boyertown.
For more information about Holt & Bugbee, visit the company’s Web site at www.HoltandBugbee.com or call 1- 800-325-6010.