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July 1, 2023 | 4 min read | By: David Harris
It is hard to believe that we are halfway through 2023 and past the summer solstice. Hate to say it but that means the days are getting shorter. I like it when it’s light out at 5 am and still light at 8:30 pm.
Last month I explained the process of how we select and bid on our larger projects. I received some positive feedback and interest on that article so I thought I would get into different aspects of what we do and in a little more detail.
As most of you probably know, we have two parts of our business here at Parkerville. Last month’s story was really about our commercial or architectural millwork side of the business. The other is our lumber sales business which I commonly refer to as the front of the business. That’s because it is primarily in the front of our building and we are open to the public for 60 hours each week. We stock and sell over 60 species of lumber, cabinet plywood, and many other related wood and woodworking products. In addition to our lumber sales, we produce an incredibly diverse line of products and services to satisfy our front-end clients. Lots of beautiful wood counters and island tops, custom mouldings, mock-ups and prototypes, signs, furniture, etc. Our goal is to continue to increase our inventory and services as they relate to the front end of our business. This will help us to better service larger builders and contractors more efficiently and to help reduce the cost to all our customers.
So, I thought this month’s topic could be “Where and how we get our wood.”
Most of our inventory is purchased from wholesale distributors from around the country.
Domestic and common materials are purchased from vendors from CT, MA, NY, PA, etc. Some of our more exotic materials come from importers a bit further away. We purchase several thousand board feet a week from these sources. All that is pretty straightforward.
As has been published in our previous newsletters, we also purchase wood from private individuals. We purchased the inventory from The Woodery in Lunenberg, MA. last year, as well as a large collection (42,000 b.f.) in Manchester VT. This gets significantly more complicated. It usually starts by us receiving a phone call from someone who has wood that they want to sell. That person will generally know how much the wood sells for by looking online at our website or other sources.
So, I’ll make up a typical scenario where the seller gets a quick lesson on what his or her wood is worth to us. These are NOT real numbers, but it will get my point across. Let’s say Joe calls and has 1000 board feet of premium Parkerwood (fake name) and he looks online and sees that it sells for $16.00 per b.f. on our website. Joe calls and he has that $16 number in his head, but he knows we buy wholesale and is willing to sell it for less. Again, as an example, I tell Joe that we buy this premium Parkerwood wholesale for say $11.00 per b.f. Hmm, maybe Joe thinks that is not too bad and offers to sell me his wood for $11.00 b.f. So, I offer Joe $5.00 per b.f. and he can’t understand why I’m trying to take advantage of him until I explain.
If I buy from my vendor, they deliver it to my door.
If for whatever reason the material does not meet our standards, they will pick it up and ship another pack without hesitation.
They give me net 30 terms but will actually give me 60 days to pay without a hassle (we pay all our invoices in about 15 days).
To buy Joe’s wood I must go inspect the material (1 trip).
If it’s nice and we want to purchase it we go back with 2 people, a truck (second trip) to load, and a check (because understandably Joe wants his money). The size, location, and way the wood is stored is a big variable in the cost to move the load. Understandably when we pursue these types of deals, we still have to make a small profit. Hence my $5.00 offer.
Another kind of extreme circumstance is the 42,000 b.f. of wood we just moved from Manchester, VT. We paid just over 1/3 of the owner’s original asking price (he was sky high to begin). The wood was 140 miles away from us. We made 3 trips up there to inspect the material and acquire some rough tallies. The wood was crammed into a very tight space where all the material was not clearly visible and there was no room to move anything around inside the space.
When we finally settled on the price, it was mid-winter and the building was not accessible. January 1st, we started paying $1,000. a month to rent the space until we could move the material. We paid rent for 4 months. Once we started the actual move it took us 2 weeks to get the project done. We had to transport a heavy duty forklift up to the site (and back), we rented a telescoping Gene lift from a local equipment rental company for 2 weeks ($3K), we hired 3 – 45’ flatbed tractor trailers to transport the majority of the stock back to our building on Brainard Place here in Manchester, CT., plus a few nights in hotels. All told we probably sent staff up there at least 10 times. It was a lot of work. Was it a good deal?? I think so, but time will tell. The material is selling well.
In some, or most cases, the only other option for the sellers is to try to advertise and sell it themselves. As you can imagine, that is a nightmare. Lots and lots of meetings. People “kicking the tires” and not buying. Selling most of the premium material and being left with not so nice materials. It’s a major undertaking that most people are not set up or prepared for.
So, where’s our next wood adventure? I’m not sure but I have been approached by a seller that has told me that their inventory is valued at about $900K. The price is not too relevant to me because I don’t know if that’s a wholesale price or a retail price. I didn’t ask, and he didn’t say. It’s wood from around the world. I made 1 trip to take a look and the collection is very impressive. Some of these purchases take a long time to evolve. We will see where this one may go. It won’t be anytime soon, but if it happens it could be pretty cool.
Next month I’ll tell you a story about how we were almost contracted to build a $114,500.00 picnic table (not a typo).
As always, thanks so much for visiting our facility and using us to help fulfill your woodworking visions and goals. Everyone here at Parkerville is super grateful for your business. We are here to help you.
I hope to see you at the shop.