Brattleboro, Vt.—Now in its third generation as a family-owned company, Cersosimo Lumber, located here, produces seven species of Hardwoods and eastern white pine. The company produces 25 million board feet of Hardwoods annually, offering 4/4 through 8/4 thicknesses in Red Oak, White Oak, Hard Maple, Red Leaf Maple, Yellow Birch, White Ash and Cherry.
At a time when many operations are cutting back, Cersosimo Lumber remains progressive by continuing to update both drying and manufacturing equipment, as well as continually reexamining processes. “We continue to reinvent ourselves; we’re flexible in terms of providing products that mirror the market’s changing needs. We now offer a wider range of products but we have not changed our focus on how we get that product to market,” Hardwood Division Manager Monica Hastings explained.“We have the capability of offering a variety of products based on what the market is requiring of any species at a given time.Each of our three sawmills can saw either Hardwood or softwood, allowing us to respond quickly to either the market demands or the dictates of the log markets.”
Cersosimo's new wood-fired turbine
Red Oak and Hard Maple are the company’s primary species, comprising nearly two-thirds of its annual Hardwood production.“We color sort several species, including Maples, Birch and Cherry.In addition, our Red Oak has very consistent color.In our region, we find it competes very well with even color-sorted products.We procure our logs from only a 100 mile radius, and this ensures this consistency.Six years ago, we were providing only about 200 Hardwood items, today we are producing 340.”
Explaining the company’s softwood offerings, Vice President and General Manager Jeff Hardy offered, “Our eastern white pine division cuts about 20 million board feet annually from 4/4 through 16/4. We have the best product that this region can offer,” he said. “The company’s philosophy centers on respecting the resource.To do that, we begin by limiting the radius of harvest to ensure consistency at the outset.By analyzing yields within various cutting schemes to maximize the value of each and every log, we can control the product we manufacture, from the sawmills to the drying operations and grading facilities. We strive hard to ensure our employees have every opportunity throughout processing to keep our product graded consistently and accurately to ensure satisfaction of both our domestic and international customers.
Operations Manager Phil Mann
“Every step of the way is very important to what we do as a company. We’ve got a ton of experience and we continue to build on that.”
Hastings and Hardy are among many of the 235 Cersosimo employees whose longevity with the firm spans decades. Third-generation President Michael Cersosimo, who assumed the position in 2006 from Dominic “Butch” Cersosimo, leads the company.Butch remains closely involved with the company as Chairman of the Board.
Through the years, Cersosimo Lumber has remained committed to forward-thinking approaches at all three of their sawmills, two of which are in Brattleboro and another in Rumney, N.H.
“We are committed to our wholesalers and distribution yards, and we consider them our partners. We are committed to bringing our products to market by providing what our customers need in order to meet any current demand,” Hastings added.
Sawing the logs into fine cuts for high-end customers is only part of the equation at Cersosimo Lumber. The company also prides itself on its drying capabilities.At its two locations in Brattleboro, the drying facilities maintain 2.6 million feet per-charge of capacity, with an additional one million feet of pre-dryer space.“The pre-dryer at the company’s central location has a proprietary design on the building with cross flow fan and custom-design control systems, providing the most uniform and accurate drying environment.The company also operates custom kiln-drying facilities in North Hartland, Vt., and Hardwick, Mass. A full-service facility, the Hardwick location offers ripping, planing and supports Cersosimo’s export division with drying. The drying capacity in Hardwick is 600,000 board feet, along with 500,000 board foot pre-dryer capacity,” Hardy said.
General Manager Jeff Hardy and President Michael Cersosimo
Cersosimo recently completed installation of six new dry kilns by SII Dry
Kilns to replace aging, existing kilns. “We removed seven dry kilns, along with what was the main steam and power distribution to the whole dry kiln facility and replaced it with six new dry kilns with 300,000 feet of capacity.Along with enabling us to provide low pressure steam for the whole facility,” noted Hardy, “we also added a 750-kilowatt generator as part of this project. These SII kilns are good for drying any specie or thickness, however, we designed them with special attention to the ability to dry white Hardwoods and keep them bright at any time of year. These kilns are state-of-the-art and are stage one of a two-stage project with further kiln replacement slated in the near future. This new steam and power distribution center will accommodate all the future changes that we have planned.”
Well received in the export market for many years, Cersosimo established a need for branded products in the international arena about five years ago. “We began branding our products with the Cersosimo logo to differentiate our products from similar species and thicknesses that were being shipped internationally by other operations,” Hastings explained. “The logo has also served as a means to educate the emerging market as to why Northern Red Oak is different than Appalachian Red Oak.The logo was established to brand our products specifically, but also for a higher standard of branding our region and the quality that comes out of it. At that time it was very difficult to compete in emerging markets because they tend to be very price sensitive. So we felt this was essential to accelerate the educational process so that our international customers could understand why this product is as valuable to them as one that they did not have to pay as much for and it’s been a tremendous success.
Cersosimo recently completed installation of six new dry kilns by SII Dry Kilns to replace aging, existing kilns.
“We focused on creating a situation much like our North American market,” Hastings continued. “We are very selective about who our partners are; we look for strong, reputable distribution partners and focus there so that we have long-term relationships. Our customers are loyal and not as sensitive to the erratic market fluctuations that exist in this region. In addition we have partnered with other North American wholesalers that distribute or wholesale in Europe and Asia and we hold those partnerships very highly because they are essential to the overall plan.”
Known in China as the ‘Red Hunter’ Cersosimo has a sales office in Shanghai with two highly experienced Chinese employees. The word “Cersosimo does not translate into the language well, so from early on the Chinese referred to our product as ‘Red Hunter’.They want the ‘Red Hunter’ lumber, which we consider a compliment. To show our commitment to the Asian market we needed somebody on the ground there that speaks the same language, understands the culture along with the market needs,” Hastings said. “Our Chinese sales team visits here twice a year and once a year I travel to China to spend time visiting customers with them so that we stay as closely in touch with our Asian buyers as we do our North American buyers.”
The company also has a strong partnership in Europe where their products are shipped to the United Kingdom, Italy, Dubai, Germany, Korea, Vietnam and Japan.
Cersosimo Lumber is a member of:National Hardwood Lumber Association, American Hardwood Export Council, Hardwood Manufacturers Association, New England Kiln Drying Association, Northeastern Loggers Association and North American Wholesale Lumber Association.
Visit online at www.cersosimolumber.com for more information.
Sawmill Engineering Specialist David Paige at the Brattleboro Hardwood mill
Vice President John Caveney, and CEO Butch Cersosimo.