Longevity, Customer Service Drive H & M Wood Preserving By Gary Miller
John, Jamie and Allen Hammill of H & M Wood Preserving, with locations in Gold Hill, N.C., and Spencer, N.C., at the lumberyard in Gold Hill.
Gold Hill, N.C. — H & M Wood Preserving began years ago, but not by conventional ways. John Hammill grew up on a farm with his father, John Hammill Sr., working with a portable sawmill in the woods around their home. Today, John and his son, Allen, do everything from treating wood and transporting wood to owning a trucking company and front-end alignment shop. This father-son team still has an active role in all the operations of the company, even if it requires working 24 hours a day.
“In 1953, that was the first time I remember working in the sawmills,” John said.
Hammill and his brother, Bobby, began logging to help out their father. He sold mainly to Henry Culp of Culp Lumber Co. It was in 1980 that they decided to begin treating lumber as part of their business. It was John and Todd Frees who would stack and treat the lumber in the beginning.
Butch Benton is the fleet manager at Hammill Logistics, the trucking company that is part of H & M.
“Todd and I stacked lumber, had it treated, split it and got it all ready, doing all the work for six to eight months,” John said. “And then it started to pick up, and we started selling. The mills would send their lumber in and we’d treat it for them, but once we got going, we started treating everything, including 2x4’s, 2x6’s, 2x8’s, 4x4’s, 6x6’s- the whole gamut.”
In the beginning of the company, the men only treated about six million board feet a year. Today, the 42-foot chamber treats 32 million board feet a year. The reason for the growth in productivity was the connection they made with Georgia-Pacific in the early beginnings of the company.
“They liked what we were doing and spread the word about us to other distribution centers,” John said.
J.D. Kirk serves as head of the maintenance shop at Hammill Logistics.
Through the connection with Georgia-Pacific, the business expanded between 1983 and 1989, and near the end of the ‘80s, John bought out Morgan and his brother’s share of the company. In 1993, H & M became solely a Treating Service Only (TSO) operation, treating lumber for small building supply companies or other treaters that have overflow they need help with.
Today, there are a number of species that the plant treats, including Brazilian Pine, Southern Yellow Pine and most recently Swedish Pine.
“We treat all dimensions,” Allen said. “We treat a little bit of everything and we have a wide variety of customers who do a wide variety of things.”
In 1994, Allen graduated from college and came back home to grow the business again. Part of that growth has been a trucking company that had its beginnings with Morgan in the early stages of the company’s history. Morgan had a truck to use for deliveries, and as the
Larry Haynes is in charge of the treating plant at H & M.
years went on, the company bought more trucks. Eventually they created a trucking company, Hammill Logistics, of which Allen is now the president.
“We haul a little bit of everything,” Allen said. “Lumber, steel, insulation and concrete products, delivering all up and down the East Coast, except New England, as far south as Florida and west to Texas.”
Hammill Logistics has since added two shops for truck repairs; one is an engine shop and one a front-end alignment shop. They provide general maintenance and front-end alignments for outside customer’s semi’s, as well as any kind of rolling equipment. In 2003, the Hammill’s expanded its operations again to include rail reload and warehousing.
“We actually started that as a service to our customers,” Allen said. “We wanted to
Joann Queen does the billing for both H & M Wood Preserving and Hammill Logistics.
treat materials through the winter and put it in storage until spring. We keep OSB, plywood, floor decking for the mobile home industry, Southern Yellow Pine and even vinyl fencing.”
In addition to the 24 trucks currently running for the trucking company, Hammill Logistics has a rail spur in Spencer, making loading and unloading shipments quick and easy.
Since H & M began as a family business, and even after all the growth the company has seen over the years, the employees are all considered key contributors to the company.
Jamie Hammill, Allen’s wife, handles the day-to-day office operations, along with assisting customers. Joann Queen is in charge of the inventory control and billing. Butch Benton is in charge of all the trucking operations, including one of the newest aspects of the company, a trucking brokerage firm. Larry Haynes is the treater, handling operations at the treating
Southern Yellow Pine is kept at H & M’s completely paved yard.
plant, and J.D. Kirk, who is in charge of all the shop operations.
With all of the different aspects of H & M and Hammill Logistics, one would think that the men in charge are past being hands-on with the business, but Allen Hammill still works every day as long as he is needed.
“I’m on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Allen said.
Any time, any day, H & M Wood Preserving is willing to help out the customer and do whatever is needed to ensure that the job is done, and done well.
The warehouse at the reload service in Spencer houses OSB, particleboard, plywood, as well as lumber.
The Hammill Logistics rail spur in Spencer makes loading and unloading shipments quick and easy.