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Acquisitions Help Fuel Growth At All Star Forest Products in MS
Mississippi lumber remanufacturing business provides lumber and panel products to industrial companies, pallet and container manufacturers, and also operates specialty pallet division.
By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 9/1/2006
JACKSON, Mississippi—Bill Price knows something about high water, but we’re not just talking about Hurricane Katrina.
Eleven years ago, he was working as a broker for a lumber company. The business went bankrupt.
Bill found himself in deep water and decided to take the risk of starting his own business. “I had a wife, a baby, and one on the way,” he recalled. “It was a sink or swim situation.”
He swam pretty well. Bill’s company, All Star Forest Products, has grown. In addition, in recent years he has expanded further with a few strategic acquisitions.
All Star’s primary business is as a wholesale distributor of lumber and plywood. The company is located on a 16-acre fenced facility in Mississippi, between Jackson and Clinton. It has a little over 100,000 square feet under roof for lumber remanufacturing and pallet assembly operations as well as storage. The facility includes a 10,000-square-foot office on the south end of the property.
The Jackson location also houses the company’s corporate offices, and All Star has two additional sales offices in Mississippi – in Grenada and Gulfport. The company has about 41 employees, including office personnel and workers at two affiliated businesses. One business division is a specialty pallet and container company.
Bill, 40, a Mississippi native, studied business management at Louisiana State University. After four years, though, he was eager to enter the business world. As he put it, “I turned ‘pro’ my senior year.” He worked for the other lumber business from 1989 until it went bankrupt in 1995.
All Star does a considerable business of specialty cut-up work for construction-related applications. For example, one of its products is a cushion block, which is used in bridge construction work. All Star also makes furniture frame components.
One of the affiliated businesses, Kenco, is located on-site. Kenco is the cut-up and remanufacturing division and also manufactures specialty pallets, boxes and crates. Bill acquired Kenco seven years ago.
The company does not make standard size, 48x40 pallets. “Kenco does all specialty work,” explained Bill. “Everything is customized,” he said. For example, one of the pallets the company makes is 2 feet wide by 24 feet long.
This was Bill’s rationale for expanding the business. “The lumber wholesale business was good,” he said, “but if you’re not producing anything, it’s kind of risky…hence, we got into the remanufacturing end of it…Now the two divisions function almost as one.”
All Star has annual sales of nearly $20 million. Plywood sales – wholesale sales and remanufactured plywood – account for about 60% of the company’s revenues. Sales of remanufactured hardwood and softwood lumber products account for about 20%, and the remaining 20% consists of sales of specialty pallets and containers.
In its plywood remanufacturing operations, the company uses four Lauderdale-Hamilton panel saws and two Mureen Johnson straight line rip saws to cut and rip panels. The remanufacturing processes produce panel components for pallet decks, boxes, crates, and other industrial or commercial products. The company buys mainly mill certified or utility grade plywood; it is a recognized grade below CDX, which is a common grade of plywood used extensively in building and construction. “It’s really good for industrial applications,” noted Bill. The company buys a lot of Southern Yellow Pine plywood as well as some eucalyptus and elliottii pine from South America and also Chinese birch.
In its lumber wholesale and remanufacturing operations, the company does considerable business in both hardwoods and softwoods; about 60% of sales are pine and the remaining 40%, hardwoods.
All Star is also certified to provide heat-treated lumber that meets the ISPM-15 global phytosanitary requirements. The company contracts with another business to provide heat-treating services for hardwood lumber, and All-Star is certified by the Timber Products Inspection to stamp heat-treated lumber.
All Star sells mainly No. 3 and No. 4 SYP dimension lumber, from 1x4 through 1x12 and 2x4 through 2x12.
“We also do radius edged decking,” said Bill, forming the radius edge on lumber that will subsequently be treated. It can provide radius edged decking in lengths ranging from 2 feet to 16 feet.
All Star provides a variety of lumber remanufacturing services, including resaw, cut-to-size, ripping, custom drilling, and more. A typical remanufactured lumber product it sells is cut-to-size pine lumber for industrial applications; the company sells a considerable volume of cut-to-size pine to manufacturing businesses that use it to assemble their own specialty crates or pallets.
All Star also brokers a small volume of lumber; normally material that does not get cut up may be brokered or wholesaled.
Other products include pallet cut stock – hardwood stringers and deck boards – supplied to pallet and container manufacturing companies. “We cut up a lot of hardwood cants,” Bill added.
One customer, for example, is a manufacturing business that makes certain components for truck engines. “We supply all their parts and lumber” for specialty pallets and crates, said Bill.
The company buys raw material from both large and small mills in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Georgia, including such well-known industry giants as Georgia-Pacific, Louisiana-Pacific, International Paper and Boise.
All Star ships throughout the South, Southeast and Mid-West. It has customers in about 17 states.
In making hardwood pallet cut stock, cants normally are cut-to-length first on a Holtec cross-cut package saw. “It’s a great saw,” said Bill. “It’s one of our most productive saws, I’d have to say.” The Holtec saw, which is operated daily, is a mid-to-late 1980s model that was purchased used.
The sized cant material is resawn on a Baker Products three-head horizontal bandsaw system with run-around.
The company also can manufacture notched stringers with the aid of a Morgan Saw Co. single-head notching machine.
Three chop saws are available for cutting individual pieces of lumber to size: a Morgan Saw Co. chop saw, a Whirlwind and a Lauderdale-Hamilton. The cut-up shop has a Mureen Johnson gang-rip saw that is used for cutting stacking sticks, stringers, making banding grooves, and other operations, and a Holtec portable yard saw is available to cut lumber on the yard.
All specialty pallets, crates and containers are assembled by hand using Stanley-Bostitch pneumatic nailing tools and Magnum collated nails.
Saw blades are supplied by Kennesaw and cutting tools are supplied by Profile Technology.
A Williams chipper is used for processing scrap material. The chips, about two loads per week, are sold to such markets as paper mills, landfills and landscape businesses.
All Star owns bob-tail tractors for short hauls under 90 miles. For longer deliveries the company leases one 18-wheeler and uses several small trucking contractors. The company ships an average of 120 loads per month.
Bill’s day-to-day duties include managing the office staff, making decisions on major issues, and oversight of special projects. Sales manager Mark Hoffman handles sales for cut-to-size lumber and also purchases most raw material. Bruce Brannan is a sales rep who deals mainly with specialty cut industrial lumber products.
“Most customers deal with us because they want something promptly or they want something unique,” said Bill. “We do a lot of the strange, odd type cut jobs.” For example, the company builds some skids that are 24 inches wide and 24 feet long. They also drill holes with multi-bit presses into plywood and lumber for various industrial applications.
The other business affiliate is Point Marine Lumber in Pass Christian. Bill acquired the company four years ago. It was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.
His wife, Kathy, has a cousin – Ivan Rodriguez — who plays major league baseball. Ivan is a catcher and was the second youngest player in history to make the All Stars. “I decided to use All Star” for the company name.
In his spare time Bill is mainly involved with his family and church. His two daughters play tournament tennis, and his son is on a swim team. “I used to play golf,” he said, but no longer has time for it.
For more information about All Star Forest Products, call (800) 240-5136.