NORTH CAROLINA PORTS 2007 - North Carolina lumber exporter finds Port of Wilmington advantages

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTGilco Lumber, Inc., of South Charleston, WV is in the business of producing hardwood lumber, and seaports on the US Eastern seaboard like the Port of Wilmington play a big role in its business.
With 40% of Gilco’s sales coming from exports—a figure that encompasses about 40 million board feet, a seaport like the Port of Wilmington is a major partner in its success. That’s because the Port of Wilmington offers easy access for truckers, and good steamship connections to markets in Europe and the Far East. As a sawmill producer, this is especially important to the new hardwood lumber concentration yard the company acquired in Marion, NC in January. This means the 60-year old company can produce an additional 15 million board feet of kiln dried lumber annually, much of which is shipped to Asia and Europe.
In total, the company produces annually approximately 85 million board feet.
Gilco owns and operates six state-of-the-art sawmills in the tri-state area of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. Gilco Lumber, Inc. represents International Lumber, Inc. and its several divisions: Gilbert Lumber Company, Gilbert PLC Lumber Company, and Gilbert-NS Lumber LLC. These divisions cover nearly every facet of the lumber industry. A land management company, Gilco Lumber Inc. has around 1.2 million acres under long term lease. International Lumber, Inc. has one of the larger timber reserves in the industry.
According to its website, annual production at its mills is in excess of 120 million board feet of Appalachian hardwoods that include ash, basswood, beech, cherry, hickory, hard and soft maple, poplar, red oak, white oak and walnut.
“This is green lumber that is cut up into logs and lumber,” says Rick Wheeler, one of several salesmen for the company. “We then kiln dry about 40 million board feet.”
The company’s operation in West Virginia is its largest. In Roderfield, WV Gilco operates a large kiln drying facility that maintains 16 kilns and a one million board foot capacity pre-dryer on its 20-acre site. It has two grading chains: one to grade inbound green lumber, and the other to grade, sort and surface dry lumber to customer specifications. At the end of this grading chain are two one million board feet kiln dried storage warehouses. The facility utilizes the latest in kiln technology and produces in excess of 20 million board feet of lumber per year for domestic and export sales. Because of the central location of this and other facilities in the central eastern United States, the company can distribute lumber for worldwide deliveries.
Exporting is paramountLike many lumber companies today, Gilco executives find it necessary to compete on a global basis. Heightened competition is what led Gilco Lumber to concentrate more of its business on drying lumber.
“Given the number of forests in China, one has to ask at what point will they begin producing their own wood for their own product,” he states. “My opinion is we must have a product for them. I think we cannot be relaxed.”
In the past the company produced green lumber for manufacturing furniture. Now that much of that manufacturing has been outsourced overseas, Gilco has turned to exporting kiln dried lumber. According to Wheeler, the company will dry around 40 million board feet this year and close to 50 million board feet next year. He believes the export side of the company’s business will increase.
“Sometime soon we will dry all of our production and ship it more into places like Thailand and other areas,” he states.
Logistics avenuesToday much of the hardwood is shipped to cities in Asia such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, China; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and in Europe to Felixstowe and Liverpool, England; Dublin and Ware, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Bremerhaven and Hamburg, Germany; Antwerp, Belgium; and Genoa, Italy. Most recently, the company began business with a new agent in Egypt.
“We do a lot of business in the Far East,” Wheeler says.

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American Journal of Transportation