Forest Products News – Summer 2015
FRANK LUMBER COMPANY: FINDING A PROFITABLE NICHE
By Tony Morgan
Located in Mill City, Oregon, Frank Lumber Co., Inc. has a long history of manufacturing high-quality products.
“Frank Lumber got its start in the late 1930s on the North Fork of the Santiam River where my uncle, A.J. Frank, was in business,” explained Clement Frank, Quality Control Manager since 1989. “A.J. moved the company to its present site in Mill City in the early 1950s. We were mainly a hemlock mill at that time.”
“Frank’s continues to be a family-owned business that relies on local federal and state timber along with company-owned timberlands to operate the mill. With the limitations due to many endangered species, the higher elevation hemlock became unavailable to our company. Since the late 1990s, we have processed Douglas-fir only.”
“Quality for customers is highly necessary and important in order to stay in business,” continued Frank. “A lumber mill has to maintain a good quality timber resource and we’ve been able to continue that over time.”
Important Niche Markets
Over the years, Frank Lumber Co., Inc. has found the benefits of specializing in a product that no one else manufactures. “We’re a niche market mill where we deal mainly with machine stress-rated lumber and glulam for our lam stock customers,” said Frank. “We also do some specialty items like hirakaku beams for the Japanese.”
Moisture Content Is Key
“The moisture content has to be at a certain level, so we rely on Wagner’s Model 683 in-line meter to kick out wood that doesn’t meet the end use standards for our customers,” Frank explained.
Wagner’s 683 In-Line Moisture Detection System has proven its value in mills like Frank Lumber for many years. Its ability to automatically reject boards that are too wet or too dry has proved critical in preventing manufacturing defects and wet claims. The system:
- Automatically measures the moisture content in every board, eliminating the disadvantage of just spot-checking.
- Automatically rejects boards which are too wet or too dry, identifying problem boards before they cause wet claims or manufacturing defects.
- Employs a display and marking system that is calibrated in percent moisture content, not meaningless units.
- Uses non-contact sensing to eliminate sensor wear.
- Has sensors that use electromagnetic wave technology to measure moisture throughout the wood, not just on the surface.
- Has accuracy that is not affected by humidity, ambient temperature, surface moisture, static electricity or sensor debris, eliminating recalibration and maintenance headaches.
- Uses Wagner’s built-in air-gap compensation for accurate reading of warped boards.
“We dry to an average of 12% on our dimension lumber while our hirakaku beams are dried to an average of 18%”, said Frank. Most of the products are machine stress lumber grades which require a moisture content of 15% or less, so it’s very important that we monitor that closely. It has proven to be a reliable tool to our company in providing the quality drying for the many specialty grades we produce.”
Partnering with Wagner Meters
Frank Lumber Co., Inc. has a long history working with Wagner Meters. “We’re a company that likes to stay involved with technical standards related to wood,” Frank explained.
“Our former Technical Director, Bill Galligan, and Ed Wagner (owner of Wagner Electronics) co-authored an ASTM Standard for the calibration of in-line moisture meters,” explains Frank.
“We’ve been using the 683 in-line moisture meter for as far back as I can remember and I started here at the plant in 1970,” Clement Frank recalled. “The Wagner products we’ve used are very reliable.”
Wagner Meters products have proven to be very reliable at Frank Lumber Co., Inc. Give us a call at 800-634-9961 for more information on how we can help you too!