Mason’s Mill is excited to announce we have been featured in Miller Wood Trade News. We invite you to give the article written by Daniel Connolly a read below and be sure to visit Miller Wood Trade Publications for more lumber resources.
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Houston, Texas—Some years ago, Mason’s Mill & Lumber Co., located here, began holding lunch-and-learns and other continuing education programs for architects.
The reason: architects and designers end up driving many building decisions and related sales of wood products, said the company’s Vice President, Eric Boer.
“We learned that a long time ago,” he said. “By networking with the architects, they end up specifying your products or services. So we get that pull-through when a set of blueprints finally hits the job site, your products are on there.”
Based at 9885 Tanner Road in Houston, Mason’s Mill & Lumber is part distribution yard, part manufacturer.
The company distributes a wide range of lumber – mostly domestic hardwoods, as well as hardwood decking, plywood, antique and reclaimed woods, and specialty wood products. The company keeps an inventory of about 1.2 million board feet of product on hand at any time. The company purchases 2.5 million board feet annually of all domestic hardwoods (Alder through Walnut), 4/4 through 16/4, and imports Mahogany, Spanish Cedar, Ipe, Cumaru and Garapa decking.
It also manufactures architectural millwork and has nearly 7,000 profiles in its knife library.
First incorporated in 1990, the company now has 50 employees at its 150,000-square-foot facility and celebrates its 31st years in 2021. Boer says creativity and a diverse approach to product lines and services are what have helped the company succeed.
“We’ve grown steadily and continually,” he said. “I think a lot of that’s due again to our efforts to constantly try new things and embrace new products and new ideas versus just doing what we’ve always done.”
Products offered include custom moulding, flooring, stair treads, decking and radius millwork.
Mason’s Mill & Lumber Co. buys its domestic hardwood products directly from sawmills. The company brings in the products kiln-dried and does not operate its own kiln.
It sells much of its product rough to contractors, cabinet shops, door manufacturers and similar companies. But it also manufactures wood products into items such as mouldings, interior and exterior cladding, custom flooring, stair treads and custom decking.
Among the specialty products that Mason’s Mill & Lumber carries and promotes is Accoya brand wood, which is placed through a process called acetylation that makes it far more durable and stable. Mason’s Mill & Lumber also carries and promotes products by Thermory, a company that modifies wood through heat and steam to increase longevity.
The company has also built a specialty business in reclaimed wood.
“We buy that from several companies that specialize in dismantling and taking down old buildings: old barns, old warehouses, old grain silos, things like that,” Boer said. “They used Oak or longleaf Pine or old Cypress, 100, 150, 200 years ago to manufacture things. It’s obviously got a lot of character and a lot of history.”
The salvage companies remove all the nails and bolts and prepare the antique wood for resale.
“There’s been a huge demand in the last few years for reclaimed antique White Oak timbers, beams, and lumber, which we manufacture into flooring, or mouldings or millwork.”
Married couple Michael and Anne Spellings founded the company and continue to own it to the present day. Early on, they added two key people: sourcing and sales specialist John Sorenson, as well as Boer, a second-generation lumberman from a timber importing family.
Today Sam Damiani is the sales manager. Mason Spellings, the son of the founders, is general manager.
The company’s work with antique wood led Mason Spellings and a machinist several years ago to build a wire-brushing machine.
“So we’re taking new growth – hardwood that’s been harvested recently – and pass it through this wire brushing machine to give it an antique-type texture,” Boer said. “We offered that service to architects, showed them how we manufacture it and get the look of antique woods for a fraction of the price. So we’ve opened some doors that way.”
Major sections of its operation include warehouse-based storage and two mills: a planing mill and a moulding mill.
In recent years, Mason’s Mill & Lumber has added several new machines to the planing mill, including a planer, a sander and a ripsaw. Those new machines are manufactured by Cantek. The company uses Weinig machines in its moulding mill.
Mason’s Mill & Lumber is longtime member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, and Boer is currently serving on the group’s board of directors, with committee roles on the organization’s Inspection Services committee and Inspector Training School committee.
Shortly before he talked with Import/Export Wood Purchasing News, he completed a call with the training school committee via the video conferencing app, Zoom, which illustrates the changes that so many companies have made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boer said the business didn’t shut down during the national lockdown last year after sawmills were deemed essential services.
A few employees have had to work from home, the company has changed its sales area to accommodate social distancing, and only a certain amount of people are allowed in the office at a time. The company has also furnished masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to the employees, he said.
The company has also taken steps to deal with the economic slowdown.
Boer said, “We’re like everybody. We’re not stockpiling per se, we’re running lean and we’re just being very flexible.”
Boer said he believes that the company’s willingness to try new things will help it succeed in the future, just as it has for the past 30 years.
‘There’s been a series of things that came up short and we swung and missed at a few— and we’ve had a few home runs along the way as well,” he said. “Really the overall theme I guess has just been being open-minded and progressive and trying to stay out in front of new products and new services.”