Sherwood, Ore.—Hardwood Industries, Inc., headquartered here, is a value-added distributor and wholesaler of Hardwood lumber, plywood and related products and services, dedicated to providing superior products, customer service and rewarding employment. The Hardwood distributor purchases approximately 5 million board feet of Hardwood lumber annually.
Founded in January 1981 by Jeff Wirkkala and family, Hardwood Industries, Inc., currently occupies nearly 200,000 square feet of production, warehouse and office space in four locations. Additional facilities include warehouses in Bend and Medford, Ore., and Maltby, Wash. “We feel our growth is a direct reflection of the consistency of the service and the quality of our products,” he said. In 1980, Wirkkala and his wife Jaynie, sold their home and a family owned rental house and took the cash to the bank to secure a line of credit. And in 1981, Hardwood Industries, Inc. opened its doors for business. In 33 years, Hardwood Industries has grown to four locations, approximately 75 employees and over $25 million in sales annually.
Left to Right: Doug Wirkkala, Kurt Landwehr, Jeff Wirkkala and David Wirkkala
Wirkkala said he is often asked how Hardwood Industries came to be such a thriving business. “The answer is a lot of hard work, sound business principles and many great employees,” he explained. “One of the early keys to success came from simply providing accurate piece tallies with each lumber shipment going out our door. Hardwood Industries took the guesswork out of the lumber business by providing each customer with an accurate piece tally. This was and still isn’t a common practice at the distribution level of the Hardwood business, especially on the West Coast. Within a few years this concept evolved to adding a computerized lumber tally system and inspection chain. Majority of incoming lumber shipments are re-inspected.
“This process of inspecting lumber not only won over our customers, it has become a key indicator in identifying who we buy lumber from based on overall value the supplier brings to the table. Our primary buying decisions come down to the answers to the following questions: Does the vendor consistently ship an accurate tally? Are their products enhanced beyond NHLA grade rules in any way? How does the lumber grade from a customer’s point of view? How does the vendor’s lumber compare to other sources? How does the lumber compare to current inventory? Does the vendor have a partnership mentality? Does the vendor protect us in the market? Each of these buying motives have helped us solidify longstanding business relationships with, we believe, the best value shippers in the industry.”
The company’s computerized lumber grading chain includes a Newman 382 planer sander (bottom left).
The combination of these quality shippers and the company’s emphasis on re-manufacturing, re-grading, and re-tallying of standard NHLA grades has earned Hardwood Industries the reputation of consistently being one of the best valued lumber distributors in the Northwest.
“Hardwood lumber is our primary focus,” Wirkkala continued. “One of the things that sets us apart from other distributors is that we re-grade our lumber and pull grades to an application rather than a minimum standard. A great example of this is how we re-grade industry grade Superior Alder into five different grades and three width sorts. This allows our customers to select the grade that best suits their project and gives both of us a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
“One of the key issues with the lumber industry is that most lumber is bought and sold on price. There is a significant difference in the result of a purchase from different mills. Most customers don’t have a way to know if the lumber is going to work until it is machined into parts. To take the risk out of a customer purchase we like to ‘level the playing field’ by quoting semi-finished parts. By doing this all the factors that determine value come into play and minimizes the importance of the price of the lumber. We create a distinct competitive advantage in our market by knowing the value of the lumber we buy and giving our customers a ‘risk free’ price for what they need.”
The opposite end of the grading chain shows the various bins of their proprietary graded lumber.
With approximately 21 sales representatives, Wirkkala said the expectation for Hardwood Industries employees is high. “Our sales reps must be able to sell ‘value’ to be successful in our company. Our products and services are rarely the lowest priced option in the marketplace. Our sales process is fairly simple, we work closely with our customers to get them to think about the overall value associated with their buying decisions. Can we get them to understanding their per unit costs? Will our product increase their yield? Will our product require less labor? Will our customer’s stock less inventory as a result of buying our lumber? Will our lumber lower their overall risk for the customer? Each question is an integral part of our sales process and if our sales reps can excel at conveying this message then they will excel in our company and help to make successful customers.
“Through innovative leadership, we have a team of dedicated and productive employees that deliver results necessary to build customer confidence and loyalty. We recognize that our employees and our customers together are the true basis of success.” The company’s motto ‘Partners in Success Since 1981,’ reflects this as a bit of a mantra for Hardwood Industries.
Hardwood Industries’ has two National Hardwood Lumber Association trained inspectors on staff that grade inbound lumber. Wirkkala explained that the emphasis is to remove or remanufacture lower yielding boards from standard grades; make grades more refined as far as heart or sap content restrictions; exceed NHLA standards for split, bow, warp, twist, side bend, and checking; remove narrow widths from most grades and provide an accurate computerized footage tally to the tenth of a board foot. All of which support their emphasis to be the highest quality and value lumber distributor in the Northwest.
The firm’s primary millwork area includes a Weinig moulder on the left, sanders in the middle, and Mereen-Johnson rips saws on the right.
“We added our first piece of equipment in 1984, an abrasive planer,” Wirkkala said. “Since then we have added to our machining capabilities to where we are today. We have ripsaws, moulders, top and bottom head planer sanders, chop saws, CNC’s, a panel saw and edge banders. We have enhanced our equipment during this downturn in anticipation of increased future demand. We want to help our customers make money by doing the heavy work at costs lower than most customers can do themselves using equipment that most customers cannot afford. The goal of every service we offer is to help our customers be more successful. We want to help them increase their output without increasing their overhead.”
“Hardwood Industries’ Bend and Maltby locations have 36-inch Cemco® planer/sanders for both knife planed and sanded finishes. The Sherwood location has a 50-inch Cemco® planer/sander for the times where a wide sander is necessary. Each facility also has ripping capabilities. “We can straight-line one edge or multi-rip for specific widths. Most of the time these services are available for next day delivery,” Wirkkala explained. “We maintain a large inventory of the most common mouldings.”
With an array of knife patterns or making new knives specifically for the customer’s application, custom runs are produced with short lead-times. For thin stock or when re-sawing will improve yield, Hardwood Industries can provide this service using their Baker Products® thin-kerf band re-saw. Custom face-glued butcher blocks and edge-glued tabletops or panels are manufactured in-house to specifications up to 6-inches thick, 50-inches wide, and 16-feet long.
Hardwood Industries tallies each board to the tenth of a board foot and stamps each board with a company logo.
Hardwood Industries offers cut-to-size sheet stock with their Schelling® computerized beam saw and optimizing software. They also have the ability to custom edge band cut parts with PVC, veneer, or solid wood edges. Solid wood up to 1/4” thick or 3mm PVC can be applied. In addition, both an Onsrud® and Weeke® CNC routers are available for complex machining applications.
“Our corporate commitment is to treat people well, whether they are vendors, customers or employees. Our philosophy is simple: Treat each person as we would like to be treated. Here, our customers always come first, regardless of their size, their volume of business or their location. No sale is too small, too difficult or too large for us. We always focus on the question, ‘Does it work for our customer?’ As a result of this philosophy, we have built long-term relationships with loyal customers, and we continue to develop new, satisfied customers. To meet the needs of our growing customer base, we believe in building a strong, financially stable company. We are committed to maintaining our profitability to protect the future of our company and guarantee jobs for our employees while developing and serving both new and established customers.”
A member of National Hardwood Lumber Association for over 20 years, Hardwood Industries is a family owned business committed to establishing the groundwork necessary for second generation success. For more information visit www.hardwoodind.com.