Tuesday, 18 August 2015 19:32

5 Tips for Improving Your Hardwood Lumber Purchasing

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How you purchase hardwood lumber for your business may be just as important as what type of lumber you buy. Purchasing lumber is a process that should be closely scrutinized, with a keen eye for determining the most effective approach to inventory management, while also getting the most value for the price you pay.

Whether you purchase North American hardwood lumber, tropical hardwood lumber or specialized hardwood lumber products, here are tips on improving the ways in which you work with a hardwood lumber supplier.

1. Build a solid, working relationship.

Given the in-depth knowledge hardwood lumber suppliers have of their industry, why not build a relationship with a particular supplier that goes deeper than just ordering a product and accepting it upon delivery?

Buying hardwood lumberThe people at Baillie Lumber are long-time veterans of the trade, with extensive knowledge about how hardwood lumber is sourced, manufactured, delivered and distributed. If you’re not actively seeking answers to lumber-related questions from your supplier, you’re missing out on a great resource to help your business.

Additionally, a solid working relationship means the supplier understands the specific challenges and opportunities your business faces, and can often provide a solution you may have overlooked. That same supplier will likely be more sensitive to your long-term budgetary needs than another supplier with no knowledge of your business practices.

The more communications you have, the better your supplier can serve you.

2. Manage your inventory proactively to avoid emergency ordering.

Managing inventory wisely is a challenge every manufacturer faces. How much is enough? How much is too much? If your estimates are accurate, you’re successfully selling your product with little left over. But if your estimates fall short, you may be stuck with excess inventory taking up valuable warehouse space—and have nothing to show for it.

This is another area where a knowledgeable supplier can offer assistance. At Baillie Lumber, for example, we often work proactively with our customers to ensure they have just enough inventory on hand to meet their customers’ needs. This way they avoid costly emergency orders, production interruptions and an unnecessary drains on their resources.

3. Maximize each load.

In other words, make every shipment count. When ordering hardwood lumber from a supplier, avoid partial orders. Utilize mixed loads to fill out a truck or container.

For example, when we deliver lumber products to the customer’s site, the cost usually includes the use of trucking or export shipment. In most cases, the maximum load capacity is approximately 12,000-board feet. If your order meets that maximum amount, the price you pay per board foot is in essence lower than if the load falls significantly short of that maximum. In other words, the cost of freight is spread over a full 12,000-board feet of lumber versus something less such as 9,000-board feet.

At Baillie Lumber, we strive to have customers maximize each load, in order to get as close to the 12,000 figure as possible. We regularly help customers fill a load with different species or products depending on their needs. If you’re looking to improve your lumber purchasing process, stick with a supplier with the most options for filling the truck to the maximum amount.

4. Learn by visiting. Visit a sawmill and concentration yard.

Many businesses never consider the value of visiting their supplier’s hardwood sawmill and concentration yard. But taking time to do so can bolster your relationship with that supplier and broaden your knowledge of how hardwood lumber is produces and what a first-class hardwood supplier can offer as options. By visiting a sawmill and concentration yard, you can learn, for example:

- What hardwood species are available and in what quantities
- How hardwood lumber is dried and prepared before it’s shipped
- What characteristics are present in lumber and how you might be able to use them in your production
- Different ways to sort, prepare, package and deliver the product so you can maximize value

Visiting your supplier’s site enables you to get a good sense of just what options are available to you and how professional their organization is (or if they seem to be making things up as they go). It’s a great quality-control measure to consider as well as a way to further your education about where your purchasing dollars go.

5. Focus on value, not cost.

A good supplier understands how important it is to closely watch what you spend on hardwood lumber products. It’s equally important to deliver products that closely meet each customer’s specific needs—so they get a better hardwood lumber yield or performance from that product.

Using more of each board and reducing the amount of lumber waste created for your products allows you to purchase less lumber over time. Even a one percent improvement in hardwood lumber yield can save significant money. Also, when you receive more usable hardwood lumber, you can stock less material and free up more space in your warehouse for other things.

The purchasing process offers a great opportunity to work with your supplier to get the best hardwood lumber solutions and to save money for other business needs.

Contact Baillie Lumber today to discuss how we can help you with all your hardwood lumber needs.

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