Texarkana, TX 71° Mon H 79° L 71° Tue H 83° L 75° Wed H 91° L 69° Weather Sponsored By:

Cutting remarks

Cutting remarks

Area sawmill gives associations inside-look at its operations, industry advances

June 12th, 2019 by Neil Abeles in Texarkana Region

This aerial photo of Ward Timber Co. shows the new storage and dry kiln buildings in the foreground and the hardwood-cutting and stacking buildings in the background. (Submitted photo)

LINDEN, Texas—Ward Timber Co. had to have some 60 hard hats last Wednesday. That's how many sawmill industry visitors were going to be looking around.

It was all courtesy of owners Bill Ward and John B. Jones. Their company was being visited by groups of the Hardwood Manufacturers Association and the Railway Tie Association.

The guests came in two buses and other cars, spent an hour or so each and were gone by noon, off to other sawmill or related operations.

The goal was to share ideas about cutting wood. For example, Bill Ward explained the crosstie.

"The RTA promotes the oak crosstie, which we cut. In the U.S., the oak crosstie is still preferred by railroads. Each mile of track has some 3,000 crossties, and with all the track miles in U.S., that's 18 million crossties per year."

Concrete and rubber occasionally are tried, but oak is still the best material, Ward said.

In the distance, Ward Timber Co. owner Bill Ward stands by finished bundles of pine lumber that are ready to go to market. Dried, stacked and bundled, the lumber is stocked in the company's new storage building.

In the distance, Ward Timber Co. owner Bill...

Photo by Neil Abeles /Texarkana Gazette.

Ward said the site visit is a unique feature of the wood-cutting industry.

"The sawmill industry is pretty open about letting others come to a mill and look and see. That's what John and I had to do back in 1998 when we established our mill. We visited 10 to 15 sawmills and now have been on many such tours across the country."

What did the HMA and RTA come to see?

"We're pretty well known for having a low percentage of culled crossties when you deliver the hardwood to a receiver for treating. We're always rated highly. They wanted to see how we do things, and they were pretty interested in the way we handle crossties."

Ward Timber Co. was founded in 1978, and primarily purchased trees in the form of short wood (7 feet long cut) to sell to area paper mills. By the mid-1980s, the company transformed to tree-length logging. By the mid-1990s, WTC began sawmill and whole tree chipping operations.

Hardwood Manufacturers Association and Railway Tie Association members are seen at all points around the lumber-handling machines at Ward Timber Co. (Submitted photo)

Hardwood Manufacturers Association and Railway Tie Association members...

Today, WTC, which has been in Linden since 1997, employs 120 people and has been in the hardwood sawmill business for 25 years.

The latest addition to the Linden mill includes two dry kilns, a 45,000-square-foot storage building and an automated lumber stacking and strapping system. The upgrades equip the company to cut and mill specialty pine products.

The tour groups primarily came to observe WTC's mill operations. For Ward, the visit was reminiscent of how he learned the wood-cutting business.

"I was just 10 years old when I knew what I wanted to do in life," he said, pausing to reflect. "My dad was in the business in Malvern, Arkansas, and as I grew up I knew I wanted to work in the outdoors and in logging.

"When I got out of high (school) and ready to go to work for him, he insisted I go to college. Well, I did and then I went back to work for him.

"About a year went by and one day in his office he got a call from the Domino paper mill. I'll never forget. They wanted my dad to come to East Texas to work at a little wood yard. No, he said, he was happy where he was.

"When he got off, I said, 'Dad, I'll go down there.' And in six weeks, I was in East Texas. Didn't know much at all. Thought I knew everything but didn't know anything, and had just gotten married."

Ward built his knowledge of the business by visiting other sawmills. That's why he enjoyed last week's tour: Some may have used the opportunity to learn.

WTC is a family business, Ward said. His daughters Brittanie Ward Lowery and Brooke Ward are employees, and along with his wife, Martha, make the large business seem small.

"I love having them in the company," Ward said.

Ward said the secret to the sawmill business is having good employees who understand the industry.

"My co-owner, John, too, has worked hard on the sawmill side with trade organizations to understand the market. Now he's passed it down to people who run our mill. We demand high standards in our production, and if everyone throughout understands that we produce a high-grade product, we will always have a market for it in good or bad times."

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com