Regional design trends constantly keep us on our toes. As home builders and interior designers pursue the latest styles, their material demands change. What once was a market clamoring for reddish woods like Mahogany and Spanish Cedar is now switching to light woods like Aniegre, Maple and Teak. Of course, these demands never seem to line up with one another, and the West coast is never looking for the same thing as the Midwest and East Coast. As a lumber and millwork distributor supplying materials nationwide, we have to constantly think one step ahead of our customers, so that the right material is in the right place at the right time.
Lumber is a grown, organic product; therefore, the “manufacturing” process of quality lumber is very lengthy, requiring drying and milling time before it is even shipped to a distribution point.
J. Gibson McIlvain ships lumber and millwork nationwide. This is much harder than it sounds, as our trucks need to make multiple stops on each run, customer deadlines must be met, and material needs to be loaded in a logical manner to allow efficient off loading at each stop. Moreover, different regions of the country ask for different wood species, moulding profiles, and quantities. We have delivered nationally for some time now, but as our West coast and Rocky Mountain customers have grown, our bandwidth has been stretched.
In order to better supply to the outer reaches of our delivery area, we have opened several West coast facilities in Los Angeles and Oakland, CA. These are not full lumber yards, but they’re really just storage facilities that we rent. These spaces, however, give us a great advantage as we can stock them with material appropriate to our customers out west, thus reducing the lead time for delivery as well as preventing a lot of back and forth travel from our East coast lumber yards.
Additionally, these West coast facilities allow us a kind of staging point for inbound import species that come across the Pacific from Asia and the South Pacific like Teak and Fiji Mahogany. Even closer to home are the imports coming from British Columbia like our Douglas Fir timbers. All of these woods have a large demand on the West coast and in the Rocky Mountain region, so we now have the ability to drop part of our inbound shipments in California, while carrying the rest to our Maryland and Connecticut yards.
We have long maintained off site storage in California and Florida, but as our customer base grows – and hopefully the construction industry starts to recover from the recession – these off site facilities will start to become busier. Certainly, the spike in traffic leaving our California distribution centers is a very good omen.