Eric Boer, Vice President of Mason’s Mill & Lumber, a company that makes milled finished molding, talks to us about the supply side of the rebuilding effort; what prices are doing and how to increase the supply of materials into the area.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Jay Curry: Hello Texas, welcome to Texas Business Radio. We’ve got a great program today, we’re going to be talking about construction. We’re going to be talking about the impact of Harvey on the coastline construction here in Texas. It’s going to be great. We’ve got four very good CEO’s and business owners coming in and it’s going to be a fun time. So we’re going to kick off here, I’m Jay Curry your host. Matt Register, unfortunately, is sick today. So George hasn’t, isn’t here. So it’s going to be Eric and I and our production staff. We’re going to have some fun. We’re going to kick it off and I’m guessing that Matt is going to be back for the second segment. Let me start by reminding everybody to just relax. You can go to Texas Business Radio at any time, 24 hours a day. Everybody that we’ve interviewed, all of our sponsors, all of our guests, all of our speakers, it’s all there in beautiful high definition color on Texasbusinessradio.com. We also have a 24 hour line that you can call in 844-814-8144. Okay? 8, 1, go through it again, 844-814-8144. You don’t have to remember that. You can go to Texas Business Radio and it’s right there. But you can call in here any time. You get a question, something comes to your mind, you’d like to have a deal with it. We’ll go get the experts, we’ll get it on, we’ll get you the answer. So, 844-814-8144. And of course, we monitor #TBR, as in Texas Business Radio, #TBR. Lots of ways to get to us. You can always send us an email through Texasbusinessradio.com and let’s get started. So, we have in the studio Eric Boer, who’s the Vice President and Co-Founder of Mason’s Mill and Lumber Company. This is a unique company, going to have an interesting story. Eric thank you for joining us.
Eric Boer: Thanks for having me.
Jay Curry: So, tell us what the heck is Mason’s Mill and Lumber Company.
Eric Boer: Mason’s Mill and Lumber started almost 30 years ago here in Houston. A small group of us, four people started a, bringing in hardwood lumber and plywood. This is a distribution company filling in a vacuum that we identified in the market after the oil recession for our products. It’s evolved over time into a custom mill work facility. We do our own importing of tropical hardwood lumber and decking. We employ over 50 people now and distribute all over southeast Texas. Manufacturing custom architectural mill work is a big part of what we do now. We sell into the custom home builder trade, the high end commercial building industry. We also sell back into the custom, the a cabinet manufacturing and in the door and window manufacturing trade, as well.
Jay Curry: So, you got started when the oil bust happened. You saw an opportunity. How did that, what’s the deal there? I mean, what happened? The oil prices impact…
Eric Boer: There was a couple of large mill work houses and building material distributors in the Houston area that collapsed during that time frame. And when Houston started rebounding, (CLEARS THROAT) excuse me, there was no real company in town to fill that void. So we again, identified a vacuum in the market and felt it was a good niche for us. We have a background in the hardwood industry, myself and the owner, were second generation lumberman. So we knew where the resources were and we knew where to, where to move in our market.
Jay Curry: Only in America.
Eric Boer: Correct.
Jay Curry: I mean, isn’t that great. You see, you see an opportunity, you see a void, you can fill it, you can turn it into a heck of a business, have a great lifestyle.
Eric Boer: Absolutely.
Jay Curry: Thank God for America. So, you’re selling retail and wholesale.
Eric Boer: We do.
Jay Curry: And you’re also manufacturing. You’ve got quite an operation going there.
Eric Boer: It’s a pretty diverse operation. Absolutely. We bridge a fence as far as a customer base goes. We sell into the, again into the building trade. Theirs some customers on the residential and commercial side. We also sell into the manufacturing side to custom cabinet manufacturers. Door and window manufacturers, as well. So we really bridge the fence and no one else in our market does.
Jay Curry: So, the manufacturing you’re doing is not, you’re not cutting trees down or building, your molding.
Eric Boer: Correct. We’re not a saw mill. We’re a mold mill and architectural mill work facility. We produce custom moldings and mill work, flooring, trim, door/window components, cabinet components, things like that.
Jay Curry: You, you’re going to sell, you’ll sell to anybody that, retail that wants to come in.
Eric Boer: Sure.
Jay Curry: Basically, you’re looking for commercial people, home builders, commercial builders…
Eric Boer: Correct.
Jay Curry: Anything along those lines. Very interesting. So tell me how the, you got into the molding? You didn’t see that right off. Right?
Eric Boer: No, we started off just bringing in material and distributing. And we quickly identified that there would be, obviously a value added going to the mill work side of things. Because there was several people distributing or just buying material and just flipping it into the market. We want to do a value added, so we got in the milling side of things and it’s just grown from there.
Jay Curry: Wow. It’s very impressive. So tell us a little bit. We’ve had the tremendous storm. It really wasn’t a wind hurricane, it was more of a flooding hurricane with Harvey. What’s been the impact of that?
Eric Boer: Well, short term we’ve seen, obviously we were close for about a week and we’ve seen a lot of, a lot of people trying to get back on their feet. We were already in a busy market to begin with. We, you know, we weren’t hurting for business. Obviously a lot of construction going on all over town. To couple all this remodeling on top of that is, is going to be, it’s going to be a long term, drawn out effect, I think, on, on, on the trade, honestly. There will be some short term issues we’ve seen on the supply side. As I explained earlier, as far as the freight getting material into here, there’s usually been a balance of outbound cargo leaving Houston as t material coming in. What’s happened now is so much product coming in the reconstruction effort that it’s offset the amount of cargo going out. So, truckers don’t want to come into the Houston market or they want a premium to come into the Houston market. And that’s a short term deal, I think, that’s not going to last that long. Longer term, I think we’ll see some issues on stock outs and shortfalls in certain commodity items that go to the cabinet and building trade and the remodeling trade.
Jay Curry: So, if I’m in, say the commercial building right now and I had a project going. Am I hurting, trying to get material?
Eric Boer: There’s…
Jay Curry: Am I hurting, you know, are you able to do supply me?
Eric Boer: We have. We’ve, we’ve enhanced our hours. We’ve got a few drivers coming in early, staying late. We’re doing what we can. We made some block purchases on some of the large commodity type products that these guys use on a day in day out basis. So we’re trying to keep the supply line full, trying to project forward what those needs will be. Like I say, we made some arrangements as far as getting additional product into the marketplace by bringing in additional drivers, bringing them in early, having second runs, keeping them out late. Whatever the case may be.
Jay Curry: Wow! It’s got to be tough. And then, then if you’re a home builder and maybe you’ve got the same situation. And then the retail people, you know, the people like me, who have a home…
Eric Boer: Sure.
Jay Curry: And all of a sudden, we’ve had to tear out the bottom six feet of our house. We’re in deep trouble. I mean, how are we going to get… Really, there’s just not enough contractors, you know, not enough people.
Eric Boer: Honestly, that’s the bigger issue I see moving forward on a long term basis, is not going to be a lack of materials. I mean, there will be some, some high points and low points in that regard. But it’s really going to be a lack of skilled trades moving forward. There was already, like I said, there was a lot of work going on in this town. Everybody had work that wanted it. To put this burden on top of that. There’s really going to be an issue with the lack of skilled trades. People that don’t know how to find a good contractor, haven’t already made those arrangements, they’re gonna be waiting a while to get the work done.
Jay Curry: It sounds to me like from Corpus Christi all the way up to Houston and beyond, you got a good chance, if you had quite a bit of flooding, that it might be, what? A couple of years before you can even…
Eric Boer: I would hope not that long. But yeah, I would say “It’s going to be a while”. There’s going to be a long wait. And of course, you know, there’s the issue of people that aren’t skilled coming into the market trying to take up some of that slack. That’s something else people will have to deal with.
Jay Curry: So, the advice there is be careful.
Eric Boer: Absolutely. Be careful. Vet who you hire. And make sure you’ve got good contractors and wait if you have to.
Jay Curry: Wow. And you don’t see this going away soon.
Eric Boer: No. Not…
Jay Curry: Two years, three years? I mean…
Eric Boer: I would expect…
Jay Curry: People are going to start building their homes themselves. Because they got, you know…
Eric Boer: Right.
Jay Curry: They’ve got damaged. They can’t live with six feet or four feet or…
Eric Boer: Sure.
Jay Curry: Two feet of their home ripped up.
Eric Boer: I would imagine people would get pretty creative on how their going to move forward on this. But yeah, we’re in a pretty long burn as far as getting this rectified.
Jay Curry: One of the things I’ve noticed in Houston as we drive along, is still a lot, a lot of stuff, you know, piled up in people’s yards. But a lot of it is flooring and that’s kind of one of your expertise. Isn’t it?
Eric Boer: It is. Yeah, we do, we produce custom flooring for architectural specification on some high end residential, commercial projects. We also stock some mid-level, mid-grade flooring for people, just in time type purchasing. We’ve enhanced this purchase as well, knowing that there’s going to be a huge surge in demand. So we, we’re trying to position ourselves accordingly for that.
Jay Curry: Other types of things besides the flooring, the moldings. If they were damaged, would, you’re a good place to go for that.
Eric Boer: Absolutely. Absolutely. We have a stocking molding program for normal, regular stocking patterns. We’ve seen a lot of traditional, more traditional or the smaller suburban homes. As far as the custom stuff goes, we’re set up to do that. We do it on a daily basis.
Jay Curry: So folks, Mason’s Mill and Lumber is a good place to go if you’re needing good hard flooring, molding.
Eric Boer: Hardwood floors, moldings. Absolutely.
Jay Curry: May be hard to find it anywhere else. So…
Eric Boer: We’ll do our best to have it.
Jay Curry: Folks we’re talking to Eric Boer, who’s the Vice President, Co-Founder of Mason’s Mill and Lumber. Eric if somebody wanted to get more information, find out, maybe get a hold of you or a hold the company, if they’re looking for flooring.
Eric Boer: The absolute best way to find us is either through the web at Masonsmillandlumber.com. You can google us at Masons Mill and Lumber or he can call our office at 713-462-6975.
Jay Curry: Alright.
Eric Boer: We have ready sales staff.
Jay Curry: We’re going to put that on the Web site folks. It’s Mason’s Mill and Lumber. We’ve been talking to Eric Boer, Vice President, one of the founders of Mason’s Mill and Lumber.
Jay Curry: This has been great. We got a break now and see if we can get Matt back in the office and pay a few bills. Don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back.
Sponsored in part by:
Jay W. Curry
Along with hosting “Texas Business Radio”, Jay is a Professional Certified Coach and Master Chair facilitating four Houston-based Vistage peer groups. In addition to being a best selling non-fiction author, the 2015 release of his award winning novel, Nixon and Dovey: the Legend Returns, adds novelist to his title. Jay holds a BS in Mathematics from Oklahoma State and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State. You can learn more about Jay HERE.