Edensaw Woods Limited’s President Jim Ferris (right) is pictured with the winner of the Edensaw Community Cancer Fund raffle.
EDENSAW—Specialty Wood Supplier Strives To Stand Out
By Bridget McCrea
Port Townsend, Wash.—The team at Edensaw Woods Ltd., got involved with the “green” movement long before the term was used to describe environmental consciousness. Rewind back 14 years and the Port Townsend, Wash.-based specialty hardwood supplier kicked off the process of getting its products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
FSC certification is a voluntary process in which an independent third party confirms that a product has been made in accordance with specified environmental and social standards. If a company passes the annual inspection, which is similar to a financial audit, it is entitled to stamp its lumber with an FSC seal certifying that the wood came from a sustainably managed forest.
“We were certified before most other companies even knew about it,” recalled Charlie Moore, vice president. “In fact, we were smart enough to become ‘green’ before there was even money to be made in it.” Fast forward to 2009 and architects and contractors working on LEED projects are specifying FSC-certified materials. Edensaw is capable of fulfilling those requests, but even with the demand for green materials on the rise, Moore said the early choice to “go green” was a natural fit for the company.
Edensaw Wood’s Port Townsend, Wash., site is headquarters for this firm, which buys about 1 million board feet of lumber annually including domestic and from all over the world.
“Knowing how we feel about things, and the way we do business, getting FSC certified back then just made sense,” said Moore. “If you’re going to harvest the forest, you should replant and replenish in a way that leaves clean air and water for future generations.”
Such philosophies have helped keep Edensaw on the growth track since the company was founded by Moore and Jim Ferris, president, in 1984. With locations in Port Townsend and Kent, Wash., the company started out selling lumber and plywood to the marine trades and boat builders, and then later moved into cabinets and furniture.
Edensaw purchases Douglas Fir, Yellow Cedar, Red Cedar and custom-cut products along with hardwoods. The company buys about 1 million board feet of lumber annually from all over the world, according to Moore, who said “we visit Europe two to three times a year to pick the logs. We prefer to go right to the source whenever possible. Some of the more exotic materials aren’t readily available unless you go overseas to find them.”
The 42-employee firm carries 120 species of raw veneer, high-end products that are used to make custom panels for large hotels, office buildings and mega-yachts. It carries about $4 million in inventory, and runs retail centers in each of its locations. “We sell small tools, glues and sand papers and a complete line of woodworking accessories,” described Moore. “We also have a retail section for lumber and plywood, and the capability of handling large industrial accounts.”
Thicknesses offered by Edensaw range from 4/4 to 16/4.
Edensaw doesn’t have a “typical customer,” according to Moore, but instead pursues a wide range of clients that include large millwork and cabinet shops in Washington. “We do ship out of our area, and even overseas to a degree, but the bulk of our business takes place right here,” said Moore, who added that the firm is a distributor for Richlite solid surface products in five states.
For its customers, Edensaw frequently introduces new lines thanks to its tie-in with the retail side of the woodworking trade. “We work hard to establish trends and stay at the forefront of our industry, instead of following up for better or worse,” said Moore.
When Moore and Ferris started Edensaw 27 years ago, both men were already working in the woodworking trade, “Our area is chock-full of good woodworkers and rather than compete we thought we could provide a valuable service, simply by using a woodworkers perspective to provide it…so we started selling wood,” said Moore.
The pair’s first foray into entrepreneurship found them visiting Roy Newman of Newman Lumber in Gulfport, Miss. “He gave us 30 days credit with no collateral, so we ordered a truckload of Honduran Mahogany from him,” said Moore. “We sold it, paid him within 30 days and our company was born.”
In addition to Moore and Ferris, other key Edensaw staff members include Jim Argities and Dennis Stickle, who serve as branch managers at the Port Townsend and Kent locations, respectively. Like many other companies that are struggling to keep afloat during the difficult economy, Edensaw has also faced its share of challenges over the last three years. “For the next six months we’re going to work on keeping our nose above water,” said Moore, “while at the same time looking for ways to expand into new areas once the market turns around.”
Edensaw carries about $4 million of lumber in inventory.
The company will also continue to work on projects that expand past its typical line of business, such as the “Edensaw Community Cancer Fund,” which Ferris and Moore started two years ago. Individuals donate to the fund through payroll deductions and the money goes to helping local residents and their families.
The foundation also holds annual raffles and gives $1,000 (in the form of groceries or gas cards) a month to eligible recipients. Over the last two years, the fund has raised $200,000. “It feels good to give back to the community that’s supported us so well,” said Moore.