The Story of a Man, a Kitchen Table, and a Dream

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Member Spotlight | Tropical Forest Products


The kitchen table serves as more than just a place for family meals. It is the hub of the home — a place where important family conversations happen, where visiting friends gravitate to socialize, where projects, budgeting, and homework take place. And for Jordan Dery, the founder of Tropical Forest Products, the kitchen table is where his idea to start a lumber company came to fruition.

The Kitchen Table


A native of Quebec, Canada, Jordan began his career in the hardwood lumber industry when he was just 20 years old. He graduated from the NHLA Inspector Training School in 2013, where he gained life-long friends and developed skills that would one day propel him to starting his own hardwood lumber business. 


The journey to the creation of his business began in 2016 when Jordan took a three-month holiday to explore Asia. While visiting Indonesia, he toured a local sawmill and was inspired. Jordan recalls his moment of clarity, “I’d always loved the hardwood industry and the people in it. This is my passion! I should start my own lumber company.”


He immediately called his twin brother, Justin Dery, who was already in the hardwood lumber industry. As Jordan excitedly told Justin he was going to start his own lumber company, Justin was wary, exclaiming, “you’re crazy!”  Justin knew that starting a lumber company from scratch would be a massive undertaking and wanted to protect Jordan from making a costly mistake, but his skepticism didn’t last long. 


Jordan returned home just before Christmas, and by New Year’s Day 2017, his brand-new business was taking shape. Soon, his brother joined the company as its vice president and their longtime friend, Jassi Jaskaran, signed-on to handle sales & purchasing. The newly-created business was named “Tropical Forest Products,” and the center of operations was the kitchen table at their family home. 


The first order of business was to join NHLA, which was instrumental in building strong relationships within the hardwood lumber industry. When Tropical Forest Products began, they didn’t have any credit, so they turned to their friends in the hardwood industry for help. These friends trusted his vision and allowed him to use their lumber yards and warehouses to build loads. The first loads sold by Tropical Forest Products weren’t backed by contracts. Instead, the deals consisted of a handshake and Jordan’s word.


By June of 2017, Tropical Forest Products moved into its first warehouse, which was previously used to store old car-parts. “The warehouse was completely disgusting,” said Jordan, “the entire building had to be gutted and completely remodeled before it could be used to house lumber. The first load at the new warehouse looked tiny, sitting all alone in the 30,000 square foot goliath. It just looked like a ghost town.”


2017 was challenging, and Tropical Forest Products had many obstacles to overcome, including some of their customers declaring bankruptcy. Jordan laments, “It was devastating, but we all came together with the understanding that it would take a lot of hard work to make up for the money we’d lost. We had to put in long hours, hitting the phones all day every day, trying to get new customers. It was tough, but we managed to double our goals in our first year.”  It didn’t take long for their ghost town of a warehouse to become filled with lumber. In fact, Tropical Forest Products has grown so much that they will be moving into a bigger warehouse in November of 2019.


The Tropical Forest Products Warehouse


Jordan’s approach to managing the business revolves around two things:  happy employees and satisfied customers. Jordan’s mantra is, “work at a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  He extolls the importance of employees spending time with their families, saying, “I let my team know their health and family should always come first. I really believe that. I want my employees to know their company supports them, that we trust them.”


The growth continues at Tropical Forest Products, as they are proud to announce their recent merger with the Lumber Decking Company out of Miami. Jordan points out, “This merger provides a great opportunity for growth. The CEO of the Lumber Decking Company, Kris Kanagenthran, has been one of my greatest mentors since I began in the hardwood lumber industry. I know we need strong leadership to take us to the next level. I trust his leadership and share his vision.”


From its humble beginning of three men working at a kitchen table, Tropical Forest Products has matured into a business that employees a full staff with clients across the world. Instead of borrowing lumber yards and warehouses from friends, they now have their own. Jordan is proud to be a member of NHLA, acknowledging, “None of our success would have been possible if it weren’t for relationships we built through NHLA, our customers, and our suppliers. The friendships we built became the support we needed to get our feet off the ground. They wanted us to succeed. They set us up to triumph.”


Rules Corner – Causes and Solutions to “Bruising”

Monday, January 21st, 2019

–by Dana Spessert, NHLA Chief Inspector

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Over the years, there have been numerous studies on soft maple and other species that show signs of impact staining, often times referred to as “bruising”. This impact staining is a form of oxidative stain, which in many cases is not easily identifiable when the board is rough and only reveals itself upon surfacing.

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Studies show, that in the case of soft maple, bruising can be caused by impacts from a hammer. If this is true, then one can assume that any extra force that is exerted onto the log or sawn boards would cause the wood to become discolored in the areas of impact.

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There are two studies on this subject, that may be of interest.

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It has been my experience that for certain species like soft maple and birch, the use of knurled or screw rolls with excessive hydraulic or air pressure can cause this same type of bruising on the boards after drying. One could also assume that the use of modern-day hydraulic log loaders can also exert extreme pressure on the logs and create the same type of damage to the wood.

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I would suggest that when sawing soft maple or birch, you reduce the pressure of the press rolls on the edger, gang saw, re-saw and any other area of the sawmill with press rolls, to reduce the bruising effect that is downgrading the lumber through the process. I realize that there may be safety concerns with the decrease of pressure, but I believe that with some simple studies, there is a pressure that will fill both requirements.

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I would also like to address the effects on grading lumber that has been “bruised” by a process such as described above. When grading hardwoods, the Inspector shall grade the lumber as he/she finds it as described on page 4, paragraph 4 of the NHLA Rules Book:

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“Lumber shall be inspected and measured as the inspector finds it, of full length, width and thickness. No allowance shall be made for the purpose of raising the grade, except that in rough stock, wane, and other defects which can be removed by surfacing to standard rough thickness shall not be considered. Nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting the shipper from improving the grade or appearance of the lumber at time of or prior to shipment.”

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With the Rule as listed above, the shipper is not allowed to overlook stain. But if it does not show on the surface and only appears after surfacing, then the Inspector would have no other option than to inadvertently cut over it in a clear face cutting. I would caution Lumber Inspectors who have had samples of bruising returned to them, to closely watch the rough lumber. I believe, in many cases, there were signs of the bruised areas that can and should be identified on the surface during the grading process.

BREAKING NEWS: Rules for Shipments of Ash Lumber to the EU Have Changed

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

ATTENTION Exporters of Ash Lumber to the European Union, NHLA has received an important notice from USDA-APHIS and the European Union.

 

NHLA was officially notified today (December 18, 2018), that the rules for shipping Ash lumber originating from the United States has changed.

 

Effective Today…the only approved option for exporting Ash lumber to the EU is the NHLA KD Certificate Program as proof of treatment to obtain a Phyto-Sanitary Certificate.

 

As announced by USDA-APHIS, “Shipments of Ash lumber certified under the 2.5 cm beneath the bark lumber will be allowed a grace period for the wood already in route.  The last date such a shipment can arrive and gain entry into the EU is February 10, 2019, which should cover any shipments in route, even with delays. The 2.5 cm option for new shipments cannot be used.

 

All Ash originating from the United States and traveling to the European Union must be in the “systems approach”. The “systems approach” is defined below.

 

Shipments must have a PHYTO with the accompanying NHLA KD Certificate with clip ID numbers. The Shipments must also meet all of the following requirements:

 

  • 10% or less in MC
  • Dry bulb temperature must reach 160 degrees F for 20 hours minimum.
  • Lumber must be debarked, small residual pieces less than the size of a credit card are acceptable.
  • Lumber drying time of 14 days, this includes air drying time.
  • Lumber must be stenciled with KD – HT on both ends of the packs. (bottom right corner.)
  • Treatment durations, dry and wet bulb temperatures, and final moisture contents will be recorded for each specific lot, and maintained for a minimum of 3 years.

 

For Canadian Exporters of Ash:

 

The Canadian systems approach that was created more than a year ago is still in effect for Canada. The use of the NHLA Kiln Dried Certification Program is only available to the U.S. based companies, but any lumber transferred between the countries to be further exported to the EU for traceability can also utilize either system to verify treatment with some additional measures.

 

Questions about exporting Ash to the EU or questions about enrollment in the NHLA KD Certification Program?  Contact Dana Spessert, NHLA Chief Inspector at d.spessert@nhla.com or call 901-399-7551.

NHLA Elects New Leadership at the 2018 NHLA Annual Convention

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Media Contact:

Renee Hornsby, Director of Communications

901-399-7560

r.hornsby@nhla.com

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 15, 2018

 

National Hardwood Lumber Association Elects New President

 

MEMPHIS, TENN. – Darwin Murray of McClain Forest Products in West Plains, Missouri became the new president of the National Hardwood Lumber Association at the NHLA Annual Convention & Exhibit Showcase on October 4, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.

 

Over the last two years, Murray served on the Executive Committee as vice president. He has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2014 and the Board of Managers since 2011. Murray accepted the gavel from 2016-2018 President Brent Stief, of Huron Forest Products, Inc.

Pictured left to right: NHLA Vice President Jeff Wirkkala poses with NHLA President Darwin Murray and former NHLA President Brent Stief.

 

In his acceptance speech, Murray said, “I want you to know that I am honored to serve as your President. I recognize this as a profound responsibility, an opportunity to give back to an industry and association that has helped define me personally and professionally for 36 years.  I do not see becoming your President as a personal achievement or a privilege.  Whether you are an active, partner, associate, sustaining, inspector, or research member, you have my commitment to consider your needs first in any decisions made by me.”

 

Also at the business meeting, the NHLA membership elected a new vice president and seven new board members. Jeff Wirkkala of Hardwood Industries, Inc. in Sherwood, Oregon will serve as NHLA vice president.

NHLA President Darwin Murray with NHLA Vice President Jeff Wirkkala.

 

Wirkkala’s vice president nomination was seconded by NHLA past president, Jim Howard. “Jeff has the rare combination of determination, perseverance, smarts and humility and exemplifies servant leadership.” Wirkkala has served on the board since 2014.

The seven new board members-at-large will each serve a three-year term beginning immediately. The new board members include George Bach of East Ohio Hardwood Lumber Co., John Griffin of Frank Paxton Lumber Co., Joey Josey of Josey Lumber Company, Darrell Keeling of Northwest Hardwoods, Dennis Mann of Baillie Lumber Co., Cameron McRae of McRae Lumber Co. Ltd. and George Swaner of Swaner Hardwood Co. Inc.

Newly elected NHLA Board Members (left to right) Darrell Keeling, George Swaner, George Bach, Cameron McRae, and Dennis Mann.

 

Additionally, four board members were re-elected to serve another three-year term including; Scott Cummings of Cummings Lumber Co., Mario Lussier of Simon Lussier Ltee, Garner Robinson of Robinson Lumber Co., and Ray Wheeland of Wheeland Lumber Company.

 

NHLA also acknowledged and thanked five outstanding volunteers for their service to the Board of Managers. Retiring from the board are: Mark Cifranick of Baillie Lumber, Charley Fiala of GMC Hardwoods, Inc., Orn Gudmundsson Jr. of Northland Corporation, Steve Jones of Ron Jones Hardwood Sales and Nordeck Thompson of Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods.

 

The NHLA board of managers determines and holds the Association to its mission and goals; establishes standing policies to guide the board and staff; ensures financial solvency and integrity and helps represent the Association externally.

 

(Pictures available on request)

 

The world’s largest and oldest hardwood industry association, NHLA represents companies and individuals that produce, use and sell North American hardwood lumber, or provide equipment, supplies or services to the hardwood industry. It was founded in 1898 to establish a uniform system of grading rules for the measurement and inspection of hardwood lumber. Since 1980, its headquarters have been in Memphis, Tenn. To learn more about NHLA, please visit www.nhla.com.

 

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