Newman Lumber 2017 Feature
By Paul Miller Jr.
Gulfport, MS– For 70 years customers around the globe have chosen Newman Lumber as their primary source for Genuine Mahogany and along with a plethora of other fine imported hardwoods.
Newman Lumber started in 1947 a mere 2 years after the end of WWII. Roy Newman served in the Merchant Marines during the war and decided to go to Central America in order to explore business opportunities. In Honduras, Roy found a man whose logging business was deeply in trouble, so he struck up a deal with him to bring the business back to life. Roy turned the company around, and it became the basis for a successful venture that is now known today as Newman Lumber Co. Inc.
Nearly seven years after taking over the company, Roy’s keen eye for opportunity led him to move his business to Gulfport, MS. The year was 1953 and with a total of 50,000 board feet on hand, Roy first sought to take his time in selling the available stock as he eased back into life in the States. However, demand for high quality Genuine Mahogany lumber was so strong that after a single visit to one of his customers, a furniture manufacturer‑—Roy sold all of his available stock. Realizing the untapped market he came home to, Roy decided to refocus his company’s mission from a logging operation to a wholesaler/kiln drying operation.
In the late 2000’s, the company diversified its product offerings to include a wide variety of find hardwoods such as: Spanish Cedar, Sapele, Tornillia/Mara Macho, Jatoba, Cerejeira, Ipe, and African Mahogany. The decision was made in response to the escalating price of Genuine Mahogany and resulted in the business being able to hold its own during the Great Recession.
Through the incorporation of additional imported species, Newman Lumber now ships approximately 60 percent of customer orders in mixed loads of various thicknesses and species. “But we still specialize in air-dried and kiln-dried Genuine Mahogany in thicknesses of 4/4 through 16/4 and lengths of six feet and up,” said Doug Newman, son of Roy and the current President of Newman Lumber.
Today, Newman Lumber is regarded as one of the major players in the direct importing of exotic hardwoods industry. The Gulfport operation includes 22 dry kilns with a combined drying capacity of 2 million board feet, a 25-acre distribution yard, three green chains, and enough warehouse space to cover 25 million board feet of exotic hardwoods.
With Roy Newman’s passing in 2012, ownership and day-to-day management have been transferred to his children Doug, Cindy Newman (CEO), and Roianne Newman Gutierrez (CFO). Furthering the dream their father started, each member of the Newman family does their best to ensure that there will be strong markets for exotic woods for many years to come. Cindy stays heavily involved in fostering acceptance of imported tropical hardwoods as the first female president of the International Wood Products Association. She handles the development of new markets and keeping up with the myriad of governmental regulations impacting the business. Doug is a certified lumber inspector from the National Hardwood Lumber Association. Doug directs all of the purchasing for the exotic hardwoods for the company internationally, he oversees day-to-day yard operations, plus he generates and coordinates sales. Roianne manages the daily finances, software administration, coordinates the marketing for webpage and other advertising, and fosters public relations for the local community and charity events. Together, all three work together with the same goal in mind “Ship quality hardwoods in order to keep happy customers and lifelong friends.”
Known for its superior workability over alternative species like African Mahogany, Genuine Mahogany of the highest quality is what customers come to Newman Lumber looking for. For customers in need of more diverse and cost-effective species offerings, Newman Lumber has them covered with other exotic hardwoods.
Doug commented, “We’re happy to bundle several species into a truckload along with our customers’ Genuine Mahogany orders. Genuine Mahogany is a durable & quality wood and the ability to bundle mixed loads is a service that offers a lot of cost savings to our customers.”
Over the years, Newman Lumber has diversified and changed with economic demands tacking on the idea that no order is too small to fill. While domestic deliveries are made by customer pickup or by utilizing contract carriers, overseas shipments are packed at the facility and sent to the port at the Gulf of Mexico for clients abroad.
Ensuring those clients receive a quality product with every order is a staff of 25 hard working individuals that work each day to help ensure the family business operate smoothly. Many of the employees have worked there for over 30 years and continually help to improve the company as a whole.
Newman Lumber is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, the International Wood Products Association, and the Architectural Woodwork Institute. Along with the many trade organizations, Newman Lumber Company also carries FSC certified lumber.
During the company’s 70 years of business, it has seen and done it all— moving locations, diversifying its products, and even losing the man who started it all. The company continually readjust its business to compete in the dynamic world today. Newman Lumber still holds on to its original mission that Roy set out for the company to “Ship quality hardwoods in order to keep happy customers and lifelong friends”, which is why the company remains to this date to be even stronger than Genuine Mahogany.