National Hardwood Magazine


February 2013 Feature Story


The Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales team includes: (L to R): Wesley Boles, domestic sales; Lawson Maury, export sales; Steve Gunderson, domestic sales; Junior Kessler, lumber procurement; Parker Boles, CEO and sales; and Adam Moran, export sales.
Hermitage Hardwood Supplies Quality, Service and Reliability

By Terry Miller

Cookeville, Tenn. - Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales, located here, is a full-service lumber processing operation. The company produces all Appalachian Hardwood species in 4/4 through 12/4 thicknesses with width sorts available.

Hermitage's family-owned business has a reputation for excellent service and quality Appalachian Hardwoods.

President and CEO Parker Boles said, "My father was a lumber inspector throughout the majority of his career. As the natural evolution of our industry took hold, he became involved with the purchasing effort of a couple of furniture factories back in the 1970's."

His father's career influenced Boles to pursue a similar path in the forest products industry. "I attended the NHLA inspection school after college and graduated with the class of 1977. The inspection school and the education I received as a lumber inspector opened doors and some new opportunities," he continued. "I started working for a Hardwood export company who needed someone to check on shipments, which allowed me to become familiar with the U.S. ports and the fundamentals involved in exporting, which led to making contact with the green sawmills, many of which I still have a partnership with today. In 1979 Boles and another lumberman established Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales, Inc.

Millie Petty handles accounting for Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales and Wilma Love is responsible for logistics.
Realizing a need for better quality control, Hermitage Hardwood purchased its first dry kiln facility in 1985. In a five-year period of time the company outgrew its Nashville, Tenn., facility, and moved in 1985 to its current location. "In '85 we started with seven employees with one stacker and a grading line," Boles explained. Twenty-two years later, Hermitage consists of 15 dry kilns; two primary and one secondary inspection lines; a planing mill and secondary rip line; 4.5 million feet of covered air drying capacity and five million feet of dry storage capacity. The company sits on approximately 50 acres and is utilizing about 30 acres, leaving room for future expansion.

"Our primary shipping warehouse that we built three years ago gives us the ability to load four containers simultaneously regardless of weather conditions. The majority of our high grade lumber is stored in this facility, which provides the room to stage, load and expedite our shipments. The species inventoried are: Ash, Poplar, White Hard Maple, Soft Maple, Red and White Oak, Hickory, Basswood, Cherry and Black Walnut. "Our customers are large residential and commercial architectural millwork manufacturers, furniture plants, kitchen cabinet and Hardwood flooring manufacturers. "Our high grade lumber is going into appearance grade applications; therefore we are heavy to FAS, and then No. 1 and No. 2 Common products.

Another very important market Hermitage serves is the distribution yards throughout North America and importer yards overseas. "Due to the nature of our business we carry a highly diversified product line in thicknesses from 4/4 through 12/4. This allows us the ability to respond promptly to the distribution centers and give them the flexibility to supply the custom manufacturers an array of lumber products in a timely fashion. The distribution yard market that we support plays a vital role in our success moving our high grade Hardwoods to those firms that are purchasing truckloads and less than truckloads," said Boles.

A bundle of Red Oak lumber is tallied on Hermitage’s state-of-the-art picture tally and weighing scales.
"The mills we buy from and the customers we market to are considered partners at Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales. "It works well when we can offer our suppliers and customers alternatives such as 7/4 when they have been buying 8/4 for years. Both products work, but there is less waste and a higher yield factor with 7/4 products we supply.

"We are trying to provide SOLUTIONS to our mills and customers. The ultimate goal is to help our customers solve their problems and become more competitive in their markets. As we continue maintaining our customer relationships, we are asking what we can do to help them save money. We try to help them see other products outside of the ordinary that they can utilize," he continued. "What is good for the customer is also good for our suppliers. It helps our suppliers develop new markets and markets that will keep buyers needing their supply of wood.

Hermitage Hardwood markets their products globally primarily into Southeast Asia, Middle East and Europe. Adam Moran, who heads up the Southeast Asian market, started in 2005, after graduating from the University of the South with a B.A. in Asian studies. He later moved to Shanghai, China and lived for a period of time to learn the culture and further develop the markets for the company along with the help of a young man who is a native of Southeast Asia who is a sales assistant and continues to maintain our office. Lawson Maury is responsible for European communications and markets. Parker Boles also travels abroad on a regular basis to develop and maintain the company's international relationships and these responsibilities are beginning to be shared by his son Wesley Boles. Wesley, a third generation lumberman is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, with a degree in marketing and a minor in logistics; he is also a graduate of the 161st class of the NHLA's inspector training school. He is involved in both operations and sales for the firm.

Pictured are two of the company’s inspectors grading kiln dried lumber.
"The success of our international sales in part is due to our network of highly respected agents we work with around the globe. They know our products, and know what the customer can expect load after load," Parker Boles explained. "Based and focused as an eastern U.S. producer, the majority of the Appalachian Hardwood we ship goes through eastern ports, being Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga.

"The majority of our lumber is put on grooved sticks to help prevent sticker shadow in the white woods. We also wax the ends of all of our No. 2 Common and Better green Oak lumber, supplied by U¡ñC Coatings Corp. of Buffalo, N.Y., to prevent end splits as the lumber begins the drying process on the yard under cover, which keeps the lumber bright and fresh, before it goes to the dry kilns where it is dried and conditioned to a 6 to 8 percent moisture content. Once the lumber is dry it is regraded. Hermitage provides color sorts for Ash and Hard Maple. We provide some width sorts in both Red and White Oak and Hickory on a limited basis."

Domestically, Hermitage utilizes common carriers for logistics and tarping all loads is mandatory. The company also has two curtain side trucks on hand for emergency situations, should one of their close proximity customers run short of lumber. "We will go to great lengths to meet our customer's needs," Parker Boles said.

Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales Inc. is made up of 47 hardworking team players. James Kessler is in charge of lumber procurement. Steve Gunderson, Wesley and Parker Boles handle domestic sales. "Adam Moran heads up our Southeast Asian markets and Lawson Maury is in charge of European sales."

Hermitage recently installed two more dry kilns, which will provide an additional 100,000 board feet of kiln capacity.
Hermitage Hardwood is a member of the American Hardwood Export Council, Hardwood Manufacturers Association, Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc., and National Hardwood Lumber Association, which Boles participates on one of the committees.

Hermitage Hardwood's goal is to develop procurement solutions for our customers, Boles said. "Our valued customers can rely on us to help them maximize their potential in an increasingly challenging market. We work a fair margin, procure a reasonable cost and ultimately work to provide our customers and mills with solutions to their problems. The company is committed to consistently providing a wide range of high quality Appalachian Hardwoods¡ªon time¡ªas ordered with a quality guarantee. By increasing efficiencies, keeping current with technological advances, and staying focused on our customers ever changing needs, Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales, Inc. is well positioned for the future. For more information visit

The firm has 4.5 million board feet of covered air-drying capacity and five million feet of dry storage capacity.

Shade drying Oak Hardwood lumber occurs in Hermitage’s covered sheds.


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