Being Totally Customer Driven
The Problem: Every seasoned lumber trader and every seasoned lumber purchaser has experienced the unpleasantness and uneasiness that may follow when you receive a load of lumber that was not up to your anticipated expectations. A lot goes through your mind at this point…
- Is this true value for my money?
- Will my existing customers accept it?
- Is it good enough that you feel comfortable that advertising will attract new customer?
- Is it good enough that you believe word of mouth will build your business?
- How much downfall will be incurred?
- Will existing and potentially new customers go elsewhere without saying anything?
- Do I have recourse with my supplier?
- Will the supplier replace the material if it is not in your up the anticipated expectations?
- Will I get that dreaded compliant call from the Saturday morning DIY’er or your loyal contractor?
- Will my bundles be picked over?
These are 10 questions that you could conceivably be asking!
These experienced purchasers rightfully know the answers to these questions. They also know that problems are time-consuming, expensive, ill-reputable and counterintuitive. For years, cedar grades have been monitored and developed through various independent and government recognized grading agencies, such as the NLGA. Parameters allowing defects (such as wane, rot, holes, soft knots, checks splits, etc.) were implemented into various grades. The range of allowable unwanted defects tolerances varied depending on the grade that was produced. Inconsistency would prevail depending on the log quality, grading practices and production processes of individual mills. This presented a grade range within the specific grades themselves. Depending on the maximum allowable defects within a grade, it could range from the low end of the grade to the high end of the grade. Otherwise, be prepared to confront grade inconsistency.
In the late 1990’s, the problem had only escalated. Customers were looking for an every piece in, every piece out concept. We had customers that were willing to pay as much as $200/mbf to get the fiber and grade spec’s that there customer wanted. This equates to approximately $10,000 per Super B-Train. Unfortunately, under normal circumstances, a trading department did not have any acceptable recourse with the producers, regardless of the purchaser’s interpretation. If the material was within the grade rule, the mill was safe and the purchaser was left holding the bag. And let’s not forget the ever popular 5% rule. Retailers where righting off anywhere between 10-20%, depending if one was fortunate enough to have a market for salvaging lower discounted grades. Remember those days?
The Solution: Being totally Customer driven
With a room full of experienced saw millers, one distributor and a few discriminating retailers, the collaboration of 3 parties developed what soon became the “Pinnacle” Railing and Decking Grade. And the concept was born. The rule book was thrown aside and the tightest STK grade in existence was created, but not without its challenges. With a stronger than ever emphasis on log quality, mill flow, and gradermen training, the process was not simple in the beginning. In time, National Forest Products would be involved in every step of the process, from Log to Wrap.
The Results: In a 14 year period, The Pinnacle brand name and grade has grown to be one of the most recognized and most trusted names in the business. It’s distributed exclusively through National Forest Products Ltd, to Retailer Chains such as Home Hardware, Castle Building Supplies, Tim-Br Mart, ILDC, Irly Bird and a number of Independents.
National Forest Products is associated with the following Lumber associations:
1. WRCLA – Western Red Cedar Lumber Association
2. WRLDA – Western Retailer Lumber Dealers Association
3. LBMAO – Lumber Building Materials Association of Ontario
4. NRLA – Northeastern Retail Lumber Association
5. EBMDA – Eastern Building Materials Dealers Association
6. NAWLA – North American Wholesale Lumber Association