Brattleboro, Vt.—Now in its third generation as a family-owned company, Cersosimo Lumber, located here, produces nine species of hardwoods and Eastern White Pine. The company offers 4/4 through 8/4 thicknesses in Red and White Oak, Hard and Soft Maple, Yellow Birch, White Ash, Cherry, Beech, Basswood and Hickory.
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,” Vice President and General Manager Jeff Hardy explained. “The logo has also served as a means to educate the emerging market as to why Northern Red Oak is different than Virginia Red Oak,” Hastings added. “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.”
General Manager Jeff Hardy and President Michael Cersosimo
“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 distribution and focus on that 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 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. “Our logo is a big red ‘C,’ and the Chinese refer to us as the ‘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 visit here twice a year and we tune up their ratings and price knowledge. 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.”
Operations Manager Phil Mann
The company also has a strong partnership in Europe where their products are shipped into Italy and a significant amount of business in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Dubai, Germany, Korea, Vietnam and Japan.
At a time when many operations are cutting back, Cersosimo Lumber remains progressive by continuing to update and innovate both drying and manufacturing equipment. “We continue to reinvent ourselves; we’re flexible in terms of providing products that mirror the market’s changing needs. We offer a wider range of products but we have not changed our focus on how we get that product to market,” Sales Manager Monica Hastings explained.
“Our primary specie is Hard Maple followed very closely by Red Oak,” she continued. “We saw close to 10 million board feet of each specie annually. Focused on sawing a variety of thicknesses, we have a high production grading facility that allows us to offer a tremendous amount of sorts. We specialize in width sorts, specialty proprietary sorts and we also offer a lot of color sorting as well.
“We color sort Hard and Soft Maple, Birch, Red Birch and Cherry based on what the market needs,” she continued. “We have the capability to offer a variety of things based on what the market is doing on any given specie at any time. Our Oak is very color consistent. In our region we find it competes very well with even color sorted products. We procure our logs from about a 100-mile radius. Six years ago we had about 210 active hardwood items and today we have 340.”
Vice President John Caveney, and CEO Butch Cersosimo
Explaining the company’s softwood offerings, 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 give our employees every opportunity to keep our product graded consistently and accurately throughout processing to ensure satisfaction of both our domestic and international customers.”
“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.” Cersosimo utilizes wood production products to prevent checking and splitting provided by U•C Coatings, located in Buffalo, N.Y.
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.
Director of Project Development Scott Ferland
“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, “All of our mills can saw either hardwood or softwood, and so we remain flexible to respond to the ever-changing needs of our buyers.”
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-drier space.“The pre-drier 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-drier capacity,” Hardy said.
Sawmill Engineering Specialist David Paige at the Brattleboro Hardwood mill.
Cersosimo recently completed installation of six new dry kilns by SII 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.”
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.