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Feature Story


Downes & Reader Hardwood Brings Durable Wood

Worthy Of The Name IronStick™ To Market

Stoughton, MA—Downes & Reader Hardwood Company Inc., headquartered here, is a supplier of Softwoods, domestic hardwoods, figured hardwoods, exotic hardwoods, plywood and accessories, decking and mouldings and treads. The IronStick™ is among the company’s long line of existing products.

“A kiln/stacking stick manufactured from durable wood worthy of the name 'iron',” states the company slogan for their new product.  Manufactured from mixed South American species, William von der Goltz, the import/export manager said, “Today we use a combination of high density South American species to produce durable stacking sticks able to withstand the kiln drying process.”

Von der Goltz said that the history behind the IronStick ™ is in response to his research looking for a product that could use small strips left for waste by the mills in Brazil.  The early stacking sticks were a combination of Ipe, Massaranduba, Angelim Pedra, and whatever high-density species strips were left from the manufacturing of decking and other products.

Von der Goltz soon realized that some species did not work well with Pine. Today the product is a result of constant refinement and attention to detail as well as special attention to Downes & Reader’s customers’ comments.

Most importantly, IronStick™ is completely backed by proven documentation of the legal origin of the raw materials used in its manufacturing. “We visit our suppliers periodically to make certain that basic principles, including the safety of those involved in the process, are always in place,” said Von der Goltz.

“In the last 10 years we’ve learned a great deal about the species most suitable to be used in the drying of American Softwoods and hardwoods. It’s important that the stick stays straight, has the correct moisture content and be free of resin. These are the basics for a stick that can be used either manually or by automatic stackers.”

Von der Goltz continued, “Packaging is also very important. We take into consideration the handling a bundle of sticks may receive during its journey.  To have a broken bundle containing 2,000 sticks is a nightmare. We want to be sure that there is enough strapping to cover any eventuality.”

Downes & Reader markets the IronStick™ to both soft and hardwood sawmills. “We are shipping this product throughout North America,” von der Goltz explained. “We supply this product to Pine manufacturers as well as to very fine hardwood mills. The sticks are imported through the ports of New Orleans and Houston. Their country of origin determines the port used.”

The name “IronStick” is well deserved. Von der Goltz noted that a particular customer inadvertently tested the IronStick™ for durability.  “In this instance our customer accidently ran over the sticks with a forklift—and they were fine. He called to say he ran over a lot of sticks, some domestic and some IronStick™. The domestic sticks broke but the IronStick™ stayed intact.”

Sold by the truckload, the IronSticks™ are covered with tarps before they are shipped. “This is a top-notch quality product and as a result we protect it.” Manufactured from kiln-dried clear straight grain wood, the IronStick™ has natural resistance to humidity and decay. It is available flat and fluted in traditional sizes as well as custom sizes, which are available upon request.

Downes & Reader customers agree. “We have found that the profiled IronStick™ from Downes & Reader Hardwood is the best kiln stick on the market as far as durability and prevention of sticker shadow,” said Dick Buchanan, Buchanan Lumber Mobile Inc., Mobile, AL.

Coming to the United States in 1979, von der Goltz is the second generation in the lumber business. Previous experience includes exporting Brazilian Parana Pine. “Parana Pine was my primary species when I was a sales manager in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo before coming to the United States,” he continues, “I know the business.  I helped my father plant Pinus ‘pinus elliotti’ at 14 years old, and after college I left the business for only a short time while I worked as an economist, so my experience is virtually lifelong... directly or indirectly involved with the lumber business. My father Harry was instrumental in establishing a company called Timbraz, and that was my entry into the United States.”

Von der Goltz has been with Downes & Reader for over 13 years. “We also market Spanish Cedar and other species imported from South America.

“I am also involved in exporting Southern Yellow Pine to Europe and shipping veneers and pre-manufactured wood products to Brazil as well.”

Established more than 30 years ago by Ed Downes and Rod Reader, Downes & Reader Hardwood Co. Inc. has around 30 employees, two distribution yards, and a combined kiln-dried inventory of 4 million feet, six ten-wheel trucks, an 18-wheeler and a facility equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. The company is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc., Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, Wood Product Manufacturers Association, and the Penn-York Lumbermen’s Club.  Downes & Reader is active in promoting the forest product industry as a sustainable resource and contributes to the Hardwood Forest Foundation to educate children in grade school about the dynamics of the forest and the important role it plays in society today.

For more information about IronStick™ visit or contact William von der Goltz at For further details about Downes & Reader Hardwood Co. Inc., visit


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