Well-known lumber supplier Weaber Inc. has been also making a name for itself as a producer of red oak and white oak flooring products.
A leading hardwood lumber manufacturer, Weaber Inc. credits its success to one simple principle, says Jeff Winslow, director of Operations. “Our mission is to meet and exceed our customer’s requirements of quality and service. Our working principle, and you could say the company mantra, is to gear every step of our operation to the needs of our customer.”
That principle has been in place since the company’s establishment in 1941.
Originally known as Weaber Lumber, the Lebanon County, PA-based firm was founded 70 years ago by Walter H. Weaber. In the early 1970s, son Galen G. Weaber assumed ownership and became president and CEO. Today Matt Weaber represents the third generation at the company’s helm as president and CEO of Weaber Inc., which was purchased by Resilience Capital Partners in 2011.
“Our company has thrived — and excelled — following a history of innovation,” said Winslow.
Located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Weaber sits on 100 acres of forestland with six acres under roof, encompassing the various divisions of the company including a sawmill.
“Weaber is one of the largest single-site sawmills east of the Mississippi, producing 850,000 board feet a week with a kiln capacity of drying 2.5 million board feet” during each drying cycle, said Winslow.
Utilizing environmentally friendly timber management practices, the company predominantly processes red oak, white oak and poplar culled from within a 130-mile radius of the mill. It produces and sells finished lumber, primed and painted S4S poplar boards, flooring, moulding and other finished goods.
“We are known as the S4S Poplar Kings,” Winslow said. “We are leaders in business and proud of our ongoing heritage and of maintaining ‘Weaber Quality’ in what we produce.”
Weaber services customers locally as well as internationally, providing quick turnaround on orders. The company’s Distribution Center also has the capacity to store 6 million board feet of finished product.
“We can do next day delivery and typically offer delivery less than one week from the date of order because we are able to transport orders in less than full truckloads,” said Winslow.
Quality control is critical throughout the vertically-integrated operation, the company says. It starts within the forestland and continues throughout the sawmills, which use computerized technology for maximizing board yield. Graders at the inspection stations also follow a “strict code of standards” when separating the lumber.
The kiln-dried lumber is sent to the company’s state-of-the-art secondary wood processing plants, for processing of the S4S boards, moulding, stair parts and flooring.
The installation of a new rip line in 2007 has been instrumental in increasing the company’s overall productivity, and ultimately its profitability. By consolidating the rough mill operation at one location, Weaber says, it has been able to manufacture more blanks in a shorter time period. The updated rip line also has enabled Weaber to maximize the yield it obtains from each board, resulting in additional savings in materials.
Weaber continues to invest in technology, including the addition of an advanced paint line and the proprietary Finish Coat technology for mouldings and S4S boards.
Tooling Up for Flooring
One of the big sellers for Weaber, flooring was added to the company’s portfolio of products in 2005.
“We built a high-tech, state-of-the-art flooring plant and today we produce approximately 225,000 square feet of flooring a week,” says Winslow.
Weaber produces primarily red oak and white oak strip and plank flooring. “We use Leitz tooling throughout our plant,” Winslow says. “So when Adam Glogowski, our Leitz representative, suggested we should take a look at the Apex System from Leitz for our Hasko side matcher and end matcher machines, we agreed.”
According to Winslow, the Apex System is an adjustable solid wood flooring tongue-and-groove insert cutter set that allows Weaber to adjust the tool on the machine to maintain the tongue-and-groove tolerances as the insert knives begin to dull. This allows for longer run times than the company experienced with its previous tooling, he says.
The tooling system also has helped solve some of the company’s hardwood flooring production issues.
“One issue it addressed is that as you run the machine over time, the tongue gets bigger and the groove gets smaller. It’s an issue of tightness,” says Winslow. “The Apex System offers uniformity with the tongue-and-groove gap; we can control it to get the exact fit between the tongue and groove we desire,” he adds.
“We are also able to deliver exactly what each client wants. We have a wide range of markets, such as bevel edge for pre-finished, where the desired tolerance can be 0.0030 of an inch.”
Weaber is also experiencing longer tool life with the new system in place.
“In the past the inserts were one time and finished. With the new tooling we can have the inserts sharpened three times, giving us four times more tool life than our previous inserts,” Winslow says. “We are seeing a much larger return for our investment than originally anticipated.
“We assumed we would have a six to eight month return on our investment, but we calculated our ROI was more like three to four months.”
Winslow adds the technology in place also has enabled the company to produce a higher quality product.
“It gives us the flexibility to satisfy the different requirements of flooring clients and continue to produce ‘Weaber Quality,’” he adds.
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