Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wood Manufacturing Industries in Historic Beverly, WV

After a breakfast of fresh fruit, bagel breakfast sandwiches and several cups of tea, our group left the Hampton Inn for the historic depot in Elkins.  The old structures have been nicely restored and make a great place to visit and learn about the railroad history of the area.
From there, we drove to Beverly and toured the Colonial Millworks factory.  They make a variety of milled wood products including many trim and specialty items for Bruce (Armstrong) Flooring.  We were impressed with the efficiency of the operation so that no wood or labor is wasted.  Colonial Millworks produces millwork from all manner of wood species including native West Virginia trees but also many exotic Asian, South American and African species.  The one thing that I found particularly impressive is that a stained board gets a two coats of finish with sanding between coats in 10 to 23 seconds!  At the end of that time, the finished board can be stacked and ready for distribution to retailers.  The high tech finish is dried with a ultraviolet light and makes a highly durable finish.

Milling at Colonial Millworks from Steve Beckelhimer on Vimeo.

Lunch was at the Beverly Historical Society Museum where the coordinator, Terry Hackney, gave us an interesting and informative tour of the displays.  We were also joined by the principal of Beverly Elementary School, Mr. Paul Zickefoose, who helped us make arrangements for our visits in Beverly.  The buildings in Beverly date back to the late 1700s and are well documented by signage throughout the town.
After lunch, we toured the manufacturing facilities at Bruce Hardwood Flooring (Armstrong) where we saw the production of solid hardwood flooring on a huge scale.  The tour took us through areas where the incoming wood is kiln dried then sawed, planed, milled, sanded, stained and finished.  Although the operation is highly efficient and mechanized, there is a great deal of human interaction with the product.  The measures in place to assure quality, productivity and safely were quite impressive.  As in other wood products facilities we have visited this week, there is a great deal of pride among employees in the West Virginia products being distributed across the country.  While the facility at Bruce was similar to other manufacturing sites in Randolph County, the difference is scale.  Bruce Hardwood Flooring has hundreds of employees and millions of annual board feet in production.  They are a huge operation.  We noted that much of the waste wood material is used at fuel the boilers for the kilns but the remaining waste wood is shipped to Hamer Pellet Fuel to be made into pellets for wood stoves.

On leaving Beverly, we came back to Elkins for dinner at Applebee’s then to the Hampton Inn for our guest speaker, Luanna Moore. Ms. Moore, West Virginia's 2012 Teacher of the Year, gave the timber and rail group lessons on the Appalachian dulcimer. While our team isn't the most musically talented, we made up for it with our enthusiasm.  We played many traditional favorites like Will the Circle be Unbroken, Wildwood Flower and You are My Sunshine.  It was great fun but by the time it was 10 pm, everyone was ready to turn in.
Several of us ran out afterward to stock up on provisions for the Wednesday trip to Cass Scenic Railroad and Thursday's drive up Gaudineer Knob.   It has been a long but productive and educational day.

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1 comment:

  1. Understatement of the trip, "...our team is not the most musically talented, ..." Thanks for sharing Steve. This blog entry summarizes the day well.