Over the last 6-8 months I have spoken with many of our customers and our sales staff in an effort to understand our place in the market and why people buy from us. The stories and feedback I got were powerful and helped to crystallize some points that have been running around my head for several months relating to why someone should use J Gibson McIlvain as their wood supplier. In every instance I was able to boil it down to 4 points that I believe are our key value adds.
Wood Species Expertise
J. Gibson McIlvain has been in the lumber business since 1798. We know a lot about wood, and that probably goes without saying. What’s important is our ability to apply that knowledge to the project at hand. Our staff of graders and buyers has first hand knowledge of many species from forest to the kilns to the job site, and we know how it will look, work, and react to its environment. We use this knowledge to advise our customers and help them pick the right species for the job. Other times we suggest alternate wood species to value engineer the job, making the material easier to obtain, cheaper, and easier to work. This requires an intimate understanding of the material that can only come from decades (and even centuries) of experience.
Importer of Record
Legality of your materials is a big issue today. So many of the exotic woods popular in the building trades today can be obtained from questionable sources that put us, our customers, and our customer’s customers in violation of the Lacey Act. As the importer of record, we buy our material directly from the source, which means we have full provenance and know that it is legally obtained, handled, and shipped. We have all the documentation to track this as well.
But beyond verifying legality, as the importer of record, we have much greater control over the quality of the material, since we know our lumber hasn’t been picked over by other entities before we receive it. We can source unusual species that may not readily available, or specify FSC material only. These kinds of specifics are tough to control once the lumber is in North America. You take what you can get in other words. When we buy directly from Africa, South America, or Asia, we can make these requests before it gets shipped. Finally, and probably most relevant, we have greater cost control, and our customers are not subject to many middle man parties taking their percentage of the material.
Better quality, selection, and price are pretty compelling features.
Single Source Supplier
Ask any general contractor how many suppliers they deal with on a single job, and they will likely not have enough fingers to count them all. But if that contractor is able to rely upon one supplier to handle all of the wood products and millwork, it makes their job much easier. Ensuring that the mouldings, floors, panels, windows, doors, and trimwork all have a good color match is next to impossible when the lumber comes from multiple sources in various climates and moisture levels. Then, when that lumber is milled and moulded by multiple millwork houses (in various climates), packed and shipped differently at different times, and expected to converge on the same job site, while adhering to the production schedule, one begins to wonder how anything ever gets done.
J. Gibson McIlvain is a full service yard with air drying yards, dry kilns, and a full millworks. We process the lumber from a green, wet state all the way to a finished product. We can dry, plane, mould, sand, lay up panels, and even pre-finish your lumber and ship it all at the same time, so the general contractor need manage only that single shipment and be confident that he is getting a consistent quality product.
All of the above features mean very little of the lumber your project requires can’t be delivered to your job site. Our fleet of trucks is always on the move delivering up and down the east coast several times a week. Additionally, we deliver regularly into the Midwest, South, Rockies, and West Coast. Maintaining our fleet means we control delivery schedules, we control packaging, and we can give our customers assurances that the material will be delivered on time and in great condition.
Really, when you think about it, reliable delivery is one of the most important parts, considering great quality can be damaged during transit, late deliveries will eat up any cost savings made on materials, and a single source supplier that can’t get you the product means multiple aspects of your build are now in jeopardy.
How Can We Help You?
What did I miss? What do you look for in a lumber supplier? What can we do better? We are truly passionate about wood at J. Gibson McIlvain, and we want that passion to transfer to our customers in the form of quality products at good prices, delivered when and where you need it. We want to be your value added partner throughout the project, from design and planning to production.