Arkansas Lumber Remanufacturer Looks to Grow, Expand Market Share: Lovvorn Lumber Supplies Pine, Panel Components for Pallets, Crates and More
Lovvorn Lumber: Arkansas company specializes in remanufacturing pine lumber into components for pallets, containers, other types of industrial wood packaging.
By Carolee Anita Boyles
Date Posted: 3/1/2008
FORT SMITH, Arkansas — When it comes to making any type of wood component for a pallet, crate, wood container or other wood transport packaging, Lovvorn Wholesale Lumber and Lovvorn Trucking Co. can supply it all.
Lovvorn Lumber, owned and managed by Bill Lovvorn and his wife, Pam, has a driving goal: ‘Get the right product, to the right place, at the right time…every time!’
Bill began working for a family sawmill business after graduating from college. After six years, the owners decided to retire, and Bill launched a wholesale lumber business.
Bill recognized an opportunity in lumber remanufacturing and soon invested in his first McDonough resaw. “As our business increased, we expanded the remanufacturing operations accordingly,” he recalled. “Now, 35 years later, we have wood processing equipment for nearly every woodworking operation required for packaging, crating and pallet lumber.”
As president and ceo, Bill oversees strategic planning and sales support while Pam functions as chief financial officer and controller; both are actively involved in daily operations. Other key personnel include general manager Tom Smith, sales manager John Autry, office manager Barbara Basnett and dispatch manager Tami Johnson.
Lovvorn Lumber’s core business is remanufacturing pine lumber into components for industrial packaging. The company services both industrial accounts and pallet-container manufacturers.
“Our products are used in a number of different industries,” said Bill. “These include equipment and machinery manufacturers, pipe, composite lumber manufacturers and more. It’s a wide variety, but they’re all industrial in some way. And, of course, we supply pallet manufacturers that make pallets for these customers.”
The company has extensive lumber remanufacturing operations. “We contract to buy economy lumber from a number of sawmills, bring it to our plant and fabricate it into pre-cut components,” said Bill. “We can drill a hole in it, put a slot in it…we can do anything the customer requires. We also have panel cut-up operations and moulding operations. We do every woodworking operation that a manufacturer might need to produce a shipping package. Everything we do is related to packaging in some way.”
The company’s specialty is supplying custom wood components. “When we’re looking for a customer, we look for a company that needs a custom wood part,” said Bill. “Every customer requires something different.”
Lovvorn Lumber is equipped with a number of machines for remanufacturing lumber. A key machine is a Holtec cross-cut package saw that is used to cut bundles of lumber to specific lengths. The package saw system cuts with an accuracy of 1 millimeter.
Resawing is done with a Brewco 1200B two-head horizontal bandsaw system. The machine was custom designed for Lovvorn Lumber. An automatic feed system sends the lumber into the saw, eliminating the need for a worker to handle the lumber at the infeed.
Two Raimann gang ripsaws are used to fabricate grooved battens. The grooved battens are placed above and below a load of product when it is strapped with metal or plastic bands; the banding is held in the grooves, stabilizing the load and protecting the product.
Lovvorn Lumber has one production line that drills holes in pre-cut parts, then resaws and de-dusts the boards in one operation. “That is a lot of processing to get a part,” said Bill.
The company supplies heat-treated cut stock for manufacturing export pallets, too; Lovvorn Lumber is certified and audited by Timber Products Inspection.
A Veccoplan grinder processes all end trims and shavings. “We grind all our off-fall blocks,” said Bill. The by-product is sold for animal bedding and fiber.
“This recycling allows us to be more competitive,” said Bill. “It reduces our operating expenses by eliminating landfill fees. In addition, we’re getting paid for our production waste. The best part is we are not contributing to the landfill problem.”
The trucking division hauls raw material and delivers finished goods. “We try to maximize transportation,” said Bill. “We back-haul at every opportunity. This is another competitive advantage.” The trucking unit also contracts to other companies.
Lovvorn Lumber employs about 30 people, and they are eligible for health insurance and other benefits. “Employee benefits are key in attracting and retaining talented people,” said Bill. “While this might negatively impact the bottom line in the short run, I believe in the long run that we are money ahead when you retain the best talent. We want Lovvorn Lumber to be a good job, a place where employees feel appreciated.”
The biggest challenge over the next few years, Bill said, will be to continue to add customers. “A lot of our industry has moved offshore, and that leaves a smaller ‘pie’ that we all want a piece of,” he said. “So finding new products, new accounts, and grabbing a bigger market share of what remains are critical for our continued success. As an example, we have recently added crates and cut panels to augment our core business.”
His strategy for continued growth is to develop a bigger sales force. Sales manager John Autry anticipates adding more sales personnel as new market areas are penetrated. “The addition of John is critical to meet our ever-changing market,” said Bill. “John allows us the opportunity to focus on areas that didn’t exist just a couple of years ago.”
Bill’s goal is to double the size of Lovvorn Lumber in the next five years. “It is an ambitious goal,” he acknowledged, “but we are well on our way. “We have the capacity and the assets to do it. The hardest part is increasing the customer base, and that’s where John comes in.”
Bill plans to keep the company focused on industrial lumber products. “You’ve got to do what you know best,” he said. “We’re not into homebuilding materials, and we’re not going to turn into a retail lumber yard. We’ve been in the reman business since 1975, and it’s what we know, so we can’t change our stripes. But we’re going to look at as many avenues as we can that use the components we produce.”
One of his big advantages, Bill said, is that he’s been in the business so long that he has a large number of contacts and friends in the industry. “That combined with our facilities and equipment will enable Lovvorn Lumber to reach our goals.”
“The best thing about being in the lumber business is the challenges, said Bill. “I’m challenged every day to come to work and drive the company forward. That is what I love to do.”
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