Finally - I did it!
We have gradually taken control of every step of our forest management, timber harvesting, lumber manufacturing, and direct marketing system - except one.....
For the last four years, we have taken our kiln dry lumber to a millwork shop to have our wood made into tongue and groove flooring.
When we built our aspen log home, all the flooring was made in our simple woodworking shop with our basic tools..... (planer, jointer, table saw, and shaper) But it took us eleven passes through our machinery to make flooring, so we didn't want to continue that as our flooring sales expanded.
Subcontracting out this one step of the value-added system has been a nightmare. But I had no choice - Timbergreen was just too small of an operation to afford a molding machine. Bummer!
Last time that we visited the Menominee Tribal Enterprise Forest, Marshall Pecore showed us their new $3.5 million building that housed their molding operations. He explained that this was the most profitable step of their whole system - and that this investment would pay off in less than one year.
I knew this equipment was important....
Over the years, I have taken my lumber to six different professional millwork shops. Here are some of my experiences....
(most of the flooring was O.K. but sometimes....)
1. Flooring strips were thicker at the groove edge than at the tongue edge -
producing a ridged floor.
2. Flooring strips came back with several different thicknesses
3. You never know when the order will be completed
4. The tongue and groove were not standard size
5. The tongue was too thin,
allowing the groove edge of the board to move and lift up.
6. Excessive waste from careless workers lost potential profits
7. Boards were not ripped properly, losing potential footage and wasting wood.
8. Flooring was milled with the bad side up - wasting more wood.
9. Usable trim strips were not returned - losing more profit potential
10. Instructions were not followed carefully, wasting time and money.
11. Costs were always higher than expected - this work is very expensive.
12. I drove 5 hours round-trip to get wood to the millwork shop.
Summary: You lose control of timing, quality, quantity, and costs when you subcontract out work.
Recently, WoodMizer introduced a Chinese manufactured copy of a European molding machine for $25,000. This caught my attention - but was still to expensive, too big, too complex, and took too much power for my little dead end road business. (This is a good deal for a larger business though) next