Weston Wood Solutions (WWS) quality control checking frames in China.
Focus On Value Added Global Sourcing Sets WESTON Apart
Mississauga, Ont.—Weston Wood Solutions Inc. is an innovative and diversified supplier of lumber and engineered wood products to manufacturers and distributors in North America and around the world. Their business philosophy is a simple one; a focus on adding value. Weston’s ability to source products globally and manage the supply chain from producer to end-user is one of the key ways they accomplish this. “What sets us apart from other suppliers is our commitment to putting a team on the ground in the countries that we source from,” says Alan Lechem, President. “In China we have our own quality control inspectors in place at our dedicated mills, and they have a thorough knowledge not only of the manufacturing process, materials and methods, but also of the end uses of our products. This understanding is crucial to ensure our customers get what they want, packaged how they need, and delivered with consistency.”
Weston’s Product Manager, Cinius Lee, hails from China and has extensive business experience both sourcing and selling into the country. “Cinius has brought to the Weston organization not only the ability to secure the best supply, but also the cultural empathy that enables us to succeed where others have failed, and we ensure that rigorous western standards and business protocols are followed,” says Lechem. Products sourced from China include primed trim boards, doorframes, window extension and specialty items like Adirondack chairs and garden sheds. Chinese Fir is the preferred material for trim boards, frames and outdoor furniture due to the excellent durability characteristics of the lumber. LVL is used for many other millwork items such as mullion posts, where superior strength and stability are required.
Pine frames at WWS’ distribution centre.
A similar approach is used by Weston in Chile. Mauricio Bravo is the Product Manager for South America, and previously worked for a Radiata Pine sawmill and millwork plant in Concepcion, Chile. “We moved Mauricio and his family to Toronto 4 years ago, and he has added a sophisticated level of expertise and created a broad resource base for our Radiata Pine sourcing that is unmatched even by companies many times our size,” says Lechem. By coincidence, Mauricio was visiting suppliers and Weston’s Quality Control team in the Concepcion area when the massive earthquake struck on February 27th of last year. What turned out to be bad timing for Mauricio was actually fortunate for Weston, as they were able to receive first-hand reports from the area and rapidly make contingency plans. By having a large pool of suppliers, providing them with emergency financing, and assisting in alternate shipping arrangements from ports less affected by the earthquake, Weston was able to resume shipments from Chile faster than many others.
Products from Chile include Radiata trim boards, mouldings and finger joint blanks.
Mauricio Bravo, Dave Gambell, Howard Kumer and Alan Lechem are the management team at Weston Wood Solutions.
Weston inventories a large volume of these blanks domestically, which are milled to profile in Toronto. This enables Weston to fill orders with a very short leadtime, and to fulfil special requests such as custom mouldings and small order runs.
Weston also maintains strong ties with key Eastern White Pine producers. “White Pine is not always the cheapest fingerjoint on the market, but it is a superb specie and the quality of our products is outstanding. Having a three to four week lead time is great in normal conditions, but when the earthquake hit Chile, it was a real diamond in the rough,” says Lechem. “Many of our customers rely solely upon Weston to keep their operations running, and by cranking up our White Pine production we were able to switch the source from halfway around the globe, and not miss a beat.”
The Weston team is rounded off by Howard Kumer and Dave Gambell, who along with Alan Lechem have a combined 60 years’ experience in the industry. All senior staff travels regularly to meet with customers and suppliers, to ensure that not only best products but also best practices and new opportunities are identified. Head office is located in Mississauga, near Toronto, Ontario where a professional administrative and operations staff is dedicated to meeting customers’ logistics and business needs. Inventory is kept both in Mississauga and at other strategic locations close to key customers and markets throughout North America.