Wood Purchasing News


Feature Story


KRETZ LUMBER CO. – Committed To Exports

By Paul Miller Jr.

Antigo, Wis.–Kretz Lumber Co., located here, produces green and kiln-dried hardwood lumber. Species offered include: Alder, Aspen, Basswood, Beech, Birdseye/Curly Maple, White Ash, Black Walnut, Butternut, Cherry, Hard and Soft Maple, Hickory, Red Birch, Red and White Oak, Poplar, and Tigerstripe Maple (4/4 through 8/4).

Kretz Lumber’s export division is able to provide lumber and cut-to-size dimension throughout the world. The employee-owned company is located in the north central part of the United States.

Export Division Manager Tim Kassis said the company inventories as much as a million board feet of lumber. “We have the capacity to hold about 1.5 to 2 million board feet,” he explained. “We currently cut about 40,000 feet per day. On average about 20 million board feet processes through our facility annually.”

Kretz has 8,000 acres of timberland and seven foresters on staff. “We buy and manage forest lots for other people as well,”Kassis explained. “We purchase within a 150-mile radius.

Our White Hard Maple in this region grows at a slower rate,” Kassis continued. “So it is known for its very high white color on the Hard Maple and on the Basswood. The quality of material is the best in this region, so we produce a lot of high end material for the cabinet industry, and flooring and furniture manufacturers.”

As for transportation, the company has a complete container loading operation including log-handling equipment. “We can load containers with logs with no problems at all,” he noted. “We also own our own trucks and we are able to truck material locally.”

Kretz Lumber has been exporting its products into China, Vietnam, Turkey and other countries. “We’re probably shipping to about 15 countries at this point,” Kassis explained.

The company prides itself on the ability to process paperwork and move containers in a timely manner. “We were recent recipients of the government’s Excellence Award for Exports out of Wisconsin,” Kassis offered. “We’re very happy with that award and are continuing to grow our exports in veneer logs and lumber.”

Kassis said the people at Kretz spend a lot of time and effort inspecting the product.

“We make sure everything is on grade and export tallied correctly. We have inspectors that grade the lumber as many as three times as it goes through the process from green to dry. When we plane it or if we put it up rough, it is inspected again.”

He also mentioned that all of Kretz’s inspectors are trained to use the National Hardwood Lumber Association’s grading rules. “We are in a continual quality control climate here. We have the equipment to scan the boards so that the tallies, lengths, and widths are all done separately.”

Kretz Lumber also manufactures hardwood flooring and dimension. “We have a dimension wood component plant where we can process wood components or ripped to widths for export as well. We can process it into a product that the customer can introduce to their production immediately. We save the waste over here instead of shipping it overseas. We have ripping, gluing and chopping capabilities. We have a Gracon chop saw which is an optimizing saw. We have moulding capabilities as well. We have a Weinig moulder that we utilize. All of our equipment is state-of-the-art.

“Kretz Lumber has made a commitment to continue to be in the export market long term. We’re in it for the long haul,” he continued. “We feel that export markets are the future and the commitment as a company pertains to both areas: our veneer division and our lumber division. As a whole our company is committed to the export market.”

Along with Kassis, key personnel include: Troy Brown, president; Dan Kretz, chairman of the board; and Pete Hilgers, who oversees logs and veneer.

Kretz currently operates 13 dry kilns, with a capacity in excess of 13 million board feet annually. Experienced kiln operators follow time-tested schedules to produce high quality lumber that, according to Kassis, is free of stain, sticker-shadow, and other drying concerns. The firm’s dry products supply international and domestic distribution yards, cabinetmakers, flooring manufacturers, millwork producers, window and door manufacturers, furniture makers, and many other specialty markets.

Kretz is known as an industry leader in manufacturing green and kiln-dried lumber. The company’s off-site facilities provide custom sawing services for customers in specialty markets. Their green products supply concentration yards, pallet manufacturers, sawdust processors, paper manufacturers, and landscapers.

The operation exports from the ports of New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles or Seattle, depending on the products’ destination.

Among many awards, the firm was recognized by the Forest Stewardship Council in 2001, an Outstanding Land Stewardship Award from Wisconsin State in 2004 and by the Wisconsin Govenor’s Export Achievement Award in 2011.

Kretz Lumber Co. is a member of the American Hardwood Export Council, National Hardwood Lumber Association, and the Lake States Lumber Association. For more information visit www.kretzlumber.com.

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