News & Resources - Customer Focus
Western Woods, Inc.
From A to Z and Everything In Between
Chris Richter at work leans on
FSC labeled product.
Okay. That's a little exaggeration. But if you're talking about lumber and wholesale distribution, this isn't an exaggeration at all because Western Woods is a one-stop shop for retail lumber yards. "We stock anything a retail lumber yard would want in lumber products," comments Chris Richter, Director of Sales & Marketing. Over 450 lumber yards in California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington depend on Western Woods to have what they need, when they need it. From engineered wood, to composites, hardwood, softwood, paneling, composite decking, and FSC-certified CollinsWood Siding & Trim. "I don't know anyone else out there who has this range of products," remarks Richter. Add to that a remanufacturing plant, a prime line, a five-acre engineered wood facility and you begin to get an idea of the breadth and depth of Western Woods products and services.
Their Competition? Everyone� and No One
"When somebody asks us, "Who do you compete against?" I tell them that "our reman plant competes with some people, our engineered wood with others, and paneling with other people again. But there's no one competitor who competes with everything we do here," says Richter. In fact, Western Woods grew from a one room office at the Chico, California airport where they were an office wholesaler of framing and plywood in 1971, to a wholesale distribution center covering 40 acres and a half-million square feet of covered warehouse space. "My father, G.K. 'Rick' Richter, started the business with his partner, Larry Whittaker. Then we sold mainly to Southern California. Today, we cover the whole West Coast."
How Many Ways Can You Please Your Customer?
If you're Western Woods, the answer would be "any way they want." One example, as Richter recalls, "We are amazingly versatile in our remanufacting plant. A guy can bring us a pattern that existed 50 years ago that nobody makes anymore and we're able to match it and run it here. We have a lot of stocking patterns we keep on the ground � the bread and butter that everybody wants. But if someone is looking for a special run of lap siding that just doesn't exist anymore, we can make it here."
Looking for siding, trim, and panels? They manufacture everything from standard WP-4 and WP-11 patterns to log cabin, lap siding, and beaded ceiling looks. Then there's Western Woods' engineered wood line, providing everything from LVLs to I-Joists to FSC glulams.
What about flooring systems? The answer is, yes. And roofing systems? Yes, again. And Evergrain Composite Decking? Absolutely. It's all part of the "how many ways can you please your customer." If Richter has his way � the answer will always be, "Any way they want."
Some finished product
ready to ship.
Green Demand Has Met Its Match
The push toward green building has finally, thankfully, caught on. The Earth may even be letting out a long, agonizing sigh that some relief may be in sight. It's fair to say, Western Woods has caught the wave. The Collins Companies and Western Woods have recently announced a joint venture which is the first of its kind on the West Coast. Collins, whose softwood and hardwood forests are all FSC-certified, is supplying Western Woods with FSC-certified CollinsWood white fir and ponderosa pine that will be remanufactured into appearance grade pattern stock and fascia.
Equally important to contractors is that these products will be stocked so they are readily available. As Richter sees it, "These kinds of FSC products were only available on a job-to-job basis because there is only a limited amount cut from sustainably, harvested forests. By consolidating the remanufacturing, stocking, and inventory into one place with Western Woods, we can finally make these products easy to order and easy to get. It's a win-win for everyone."An aerial view of Western Woods; note airport access at top of frame.
An aerial view of Western Woods;
note airport access at top of frame.
Dialing for Dollars? Hardly.
While many companies play the telemarketing game, Western Woods prefers to play the customer service game. "We don't call 500 names to get one customer. We have 21 salespeople and we'd rather they be at their desks so they can help our customers," explains Richter.
He continues, "New customers come from treating your current customers right. That doesn't mean communication is only by telephone, fax, or email. Salespeople hit the road three to four times a year. We know our customers really well; we know their families. They've been with Western Woods a long time, so many of them have practically become our extended family. We do a lot with them outside of business hours. And that's worked out well for all of us," adds this second generation lumber wholesaler.
Western Woods, In.
P.O. Box 4402
Chico, CA 95927-4402
Special thanks to an article by:
Mike Matthews - Green Building Product Dealer