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Ohio Reman Business Serves Industrial Packaging Market
Wappoo Wood Products Relies on Country Saw & Knife for Blade Service

By Diane Calabrese
Date Posted: 9/2/2003

SIDNEY, Ohio – If a wood component can help a customer meet a packaging need, Wappoo Wood Products probably already makes it. If not, it will help a customer design the component and manufacture it for them.

Wappoo Wood Products is a lumber remanufacturing business that specializes in making components for packaging, including pallets and containers. The company manufactures pallet stock, components for crates and containers, dunnage, and other industrial materials.

Thomas G. Baker is president and owner of Wappoo Wood Products. He launched the company in 1980. From the start, Thom was committed to carving out a well-defined niche. "We are a wholesale lumber company," he said, that specializes in "serving industrial people for their crating and packaging needs."

Wappoo Wood Products takes a highly focused approach to meeting the requirements of its customers. "My philosophy is that we need to do what we're best at -- buying, sawing and selling," said Thom. That is why he believes it is better to leave the mechanics of sharpening and servicing saw blades to a company that specializes in saw blade service.

Wappoo Wood Products has relied on Country Saw & Knife Inc. for saw blade service since 2000. "They were recommended by one of our customers," said Thom. "We have been very pleased."

Country Saw & Knife supplies and services circular and band saw blades and knives for wood cutting applications. The company, which also has a division that provides blades and service for metal cutting applications, has its own trucks to provide pick-up and delivery service.

Country Saw & Knife has been servicing Wappoo Wood Products for more than three years, but Thom could recall only one time that the supplier did not make a scheduled stop to pick up and return blades. Country Saw & Knife had a good reason. The snow was so deep that day that only one-fourth of Tom’s employees reported to work. Country Saw & Knife telephoned that day to let Thom know it would not be able to make its regular stop.

"When they pick up blades," said Thom, "one week later they bring everything back. They're willing to do anything, even ship blades back right away if we need them."

Another thing Thom has admired about Country Saw & Knife’s service is that it always returns all the blades on the next trip. "They do what they say they'll do," said Thom. The supplier has provided improved service.

The economy has been less than vigorous, Thom noted, and saw blade maintenance is a significant cost for his company. However, he has found that Country Saw & Knife’s pricing “is very competitive.”

Wappoo Wood Products has a number of pieces of cut-up equipment and machinery, and their operations require a steady supply of blades and cutting tools. The company performs precision cut-to-length sawing, resawing, and ripping as well as other remanufacturing operations, such as notching pallet stringers, cutting dados and banding grooves, and cutting panels.

An Ohio native, Thom worked for a wholesale lumber company before deciding to lay a foundation for having his own business in lumber remanufacturing. In the late 1970s he and his wife lived in Charleston, S.C., where they had moved in order that Thom could learn more about lumber remanufacturing. The couple lived across from the Wappoo Creek, which is part of the Intercoastal Waterway. "We thought it was an interesting enough name that we went with it" for the name of the company when he launched it later back in Ohio, he explained.

Sidney, a town of about 18,000 residents, is located some 30-plus miles north of Dayton. Wappoo Wood Products serves customers within about an 80-mile radius, which covers eastern Indiana and western Ohio.

Wappoo Wood Products employs 26 people. The company makes components for pallet and container manufacturers and also supplies wood packaging and dunnage material directly to companies that use them, including customers in the steel, sign and door industries. Wappoo Wood Products will help customers design the wood package or components their product requires.

Wappoo Wood Products is situated on a 16-acre site, and the company has its own rail siding. There are several buildings on the site, including an office, a 12,000-square-foot shop, an 18,000-square-foot plant, and a 40,000-square-foot covered space for storing lumber.

Wappoo Wood Products buys Southern yellow pine from mills in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, and it buys hardwood material from mills in southern Ohio. Raw material is delivered by truck and rail. "We buy a lot of odds and ends," said Thom. "We go after the low-grade materials."

Thom said he tells his suppliers, "When you see wood and say, 'What am I going to do with this?,’ call me.'" It is a matter of both philosophy and economy that prompts him to buy material that other companies cannot use. "We're lucky that God didn't make perfect trees," he said.

"We buy material that's already sized," said Thom. Most of the company’s operations involve ripping and cutting for specific packaging components.

Wappoo Wood Products is equipped with a Pendu model 4300 gang saw, a Newman KM-16 multi-trim saw, a Danco gang rip saw, a Producto resaw, an Alpine Equipment PF90 cut-off saw, a Tyler Machine dado, and an Auburn Machinery Yield-Pro. The machines from the suppliers have performed well and proven reliable, he said.

Thom described the Auburn Machinery Yield-Pro as "the most interesting machine I've got" because it is so versatile. With one operator, the Yield-Pro can convert offal material – edging strips, waney material, trim ends and mis-sawed boards that likely would be sent to a chipper or grinder – into a wide range of higher value products. The Auburn Machinery Yield-Pro has helped the company maximize yield and recovery.

Waste wood is processed by a Cresswood grinder, and the grindings are sold for animal bedding. Thom has been very pleased with the performance of the Cresswood machine, and it is the second one he has owned.

Wappoo Wood Products does not have its own drying operations, but it has suppliers that can provide heat-treated lumber to meet export packaging requirements, and it is certified to supply heat-treated wood packaging components. Thom is looking at adding bar coding technology to his company’s operations in the near future.

In keeping with Tom's tightly focused business strategy, the company leases all its trucks, and the leasing company takes care of all maintenance on them.

There's not much free time for Thom. When he has some, however, he has a couple of activities that he enjoys -- jogging and biking.

There are many things to like about making wood packaging components, said Thom. "You get an opportunity to be creative with materials, to come up with the odd item."

Customers "will have some packaging issue" that needs to be solved, explained Thom, and he enjoys helping them design a solution. "We take a lot of pride in our customer service," he said, "making sure they don't go without."

The smallest packaging component Wappoo Wood Products has made is a 5-inch piece of 1x3. It is fastened under metal doors to protect them during shipment. The company has made crating materials up to 152 inches long.

Thom cited his shop foreman, Mike Bisbee, and his maintenance mechanic, Mike Bratcum, as two employees who contribute a great deal to the business. He also stressed that he can depend on all of his employees. "I am impressed with our workforce," he said.

Many employees have been with Wappoo Wood Products a long time. "We try to take good care of the customer and the employee," said Thom. "The reason we're really in business is to take care of 26 families." In making decisions about a particular course of action for the business, he said, he tries to take steps “that benefit us all."

Tom’s sons, Adam and Matthew, have begun working in the business in recent years. Adam works in purchasing and dispatching while Matthew’s duties include sales.

Over more than two decades in the business, Thom has had ample opportunity to observe trends. "Probably the biggest change," he said, has been that "our customers have become more and more just-in-time” oriented, which means they turn inventories faster.

"We get people who call today and need something tomorrow," Thom said. "We work real hard at working a five-day week." Sometimes, however, weekend work is necessary to service customers.


 Country Saw Supplies Blades, Service

Country Saw & Knife Inc. is owned by Rick Mercer, Stan Glista, Tony Glista and Dan Glista. The Glistas are brothers, and the four men worked together before they established their business 17 years ago.

Country Saw & Knife, based in Ohio, supplies circular and band saw blades and knives for wood processing applications, such as the pallet and sawmill industries. The company also provides blade remanufacturing services. It has a fleet of trucks that deliver new and refurbished blades -- and retrieves blades requiring service -- to customer locations in nine states. The company employs 39 people in its operations.

"The biggest thing we strive for is service and quality," said Dan, company vice president, "along with picking up and returning one week later."

The weekly schedule is important to pallet and sawmill customers that cannot afford to take downtime, so providing quick turn-around has always been at the core of Country Saw & Knife’s service.

"We do go on-site occasionally," too, said Dan, to provide special service.

Country Saw & Knife continues to improve its capabilities. "We just upgraded carbide sharpening and manufacturing to all automated," said Dan, which makes the sharpening process even more precise.

Country Saw & Knife serves customers in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.

For more information on Country Saw & Knife, call the company at (800) 253-7379, e-mail ctysaw@valunet.com, or visit the Web site at www.countrysaw.com.


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