Comprehensive and Sustainable Wood Product Solutions

Ottawa Forest Products
Written by Ryan Cartner

Ottawa Forest Products is a provider of high-quality lumber and pre-cut pallet components. It has been serving the upper Midwest lumber market for more than twenty-five years, and in that time, it has developed a reputation for integrity, hard work, and the best quality customer service.
The company operates out of Michigan with its headquarters in the small town of Ironwood and a secondary facility in the community of Amasa. All of its products are manufactured using high-quality timber collected in the vast forestlands of the Michigan Upper Peninsula.

Ottawa Forest Products was established in Ironwood in August of 1992. This small city had a population of fewer than seven thousand people at the time and was suffering from high unemployment rates. It was actively seeking opportunities to bring business to the area. The municipality aggressively pursued Ottawa Forest Products by offering the company a number of incentives.

First, to alleviate some of the initial start-up strain, a low-interest loan was offered by the city. Then, city representatives offered to help the company with an application for a state grant of $185,000 from the Michigan Community Development Block Grant program. Through these efforts, it hoped to win over competing locations that the company was considering.

The founder of the company, having a history in the local lumber industry, ultimately recognized the value in Ironwood. The abundance of high-quality timber and the able workforce available in the area were two significant factors, as was a study by the Department of Natural Resources listing the region as a good source for the type of wood needed to produce quality lumber. Ottawa Forest Products built its sawmill in an industrial part of Ironwood, and on August 1 of 1992, it opened its doors. In 2012, the company’s leadership decided to expand by acquiring Pine River Hardwoods, a sawmill in Amasa, Michigan. Ottawa Forest Products continues to operate both of these facilities.

Since that time, the company has been a leading supplier of pre-cut pallet components and hardwood dimension lumber to the upper Midwest marketplace including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana. It has consistently provided top quality lumber products by selecting the densest, highest-quality timber available.

According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, of the state’s twenty million acres of forested area, nearly half of that is located in the Upper Peninsula, and ninety-five percent of it can be used for the production of timber. Sawmill operations like Ottawa Forest Products work closely with local timber suppliers and the Department of Natural Resources to preserve the forest and the wellbeing of the industry. Ottawa Forest Products’ timber supply chain is held to the highest standards of environmental stewardship to maintain the viability of timber production while protecting animal habitats and biodiversity.

A wooden transport pallet typically consists of three runner boards that support a bed of deck-boards on top of which goods are placed. A forklift can insert its forks in between the runners to raise the pallet, and in some cases, notches are cut into the bottoms of the runners so that the forks can be inserted into the side of the pallet enabling the lift operator to access it from any direction. Ottawa Forest Products provides pre-cut components for building these pallets in both formats. They are made from red oak, aspen, and mixed hardwood lumber, can be cut to custom dimensions for customers with unique needs and applications, and are available in both small and large volume orders.

To provide the best quality lumber products to its customers, Ottawa Forest Products has lumber graders on staff who carefully examine each board produced within either of the company’s two facilities. This team of experts is trained at the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) and is responsible for assigning each board a grade based on the specifications set forth by the NHLA, a nationally-recognized organization that has been a leader in developing standards for lumber in the United States.

Once a board has been evaluated by a lumber grader, its value can be ascertained, and it can be categorized according to its quality. Some boards are suited for high-quality applications such as cabinetry, while others are suited for applications with fewer demands. Ottawa Forest Product’s NHLA-trained lumber graders can assess boards made from any of the many hardwood species available in the Upper Peninsula including hard and soft maple, birch, red oak, basswood, ash, aspen, cherry, and other miscellaneous hardwoods. Their expertise is applied to every board, ensuring that the company’s customers receive only the best products.

Ottawa Forest Products provides additional services including private timber sale management, weighing pulp deliveries in Amasa. It also has a licensed and bonded freight shipping and trucking division that provides dry van and flatbed trucking services to its customers as well as outside companies. Through this division, the company hauls cargo throughout the Midwest from Ironwood to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. This enables the company to have fine control over its delivery schedule, and as a result, it has been able to maintain a very good track record for on-time delivery.

The company can help private landowners manage the entire process of selling timber from their property. First, the company has a team of forestry experts on hand who can visit the property to appraise the value of the timber. Once estimates are provided, the company can use its network of trustworthy logging professionals to harvest the timber safely and responsibly according to the environmental guidelines set by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

The SFI is an organization committed to promoting the value of sustainable supply chains in the forestry industry and has developed an important set of standards that help companies operate with an eye to protecting the environment. Landowners who trust Ottawa Forest Products to manage their private timber sales can be confident that the company will seek a balance between attaining a good value for their wood product and preserving the natural landscape.

According to one testimonial available on the company’s website, its service was faultless. “I met Jamie Ofstad from Ottawa Forest Products when he and his crew were logging a property adjacent to mine. He informed me that I had some mature pine and aspen on my property that should be harvested. We walked the property and discussed what to cut and what to leave standing. Everything was done exactly as he proposed in his cutting contract. When his crew was finished, all roads on my property were graded and improved to much better standards than when they started. They went above and beyond my expectations. I would recommend Jamie and his crew to anyone that needs logging on their property.”



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