Madison Wood Preservers of Madison, Virginia packs a mighty punch. This powerful mid-sized wholesale supplier and pioneer of top-quality, pressure-treated lumber leaves even big competitors in the dust.
Madison Wood Preservers was even featured on the television show ‘World’s Greatest!…’ in 2016. Here, the company ensures that it buys lumber only from high-quality producing mills, after which the wood is treated with eco-friendly preservatives in large, high-pressure chambers.
These days, many DIY weekend warriors purchase their building materials online as it makes the ordering process quite easy. However, when it comes to choosing which treated lumber to use, the internet can be a tricky resource as photos on a computer screen are typically misleading as to the quality you may receive. Madison Wood warns against comparing the price of lumber the same way a homeowner would price hardware.
“All treated lumber is not created equal. The price tag is only a small portion of the overall cost,” says Sales Manager, Kari Gaviria. “We often see consumers forget to include costs associated with time wasted sifting through boards and culled unusable product. For most people these projects are big investments! The satisfaction of meeting your customer’s expectations must weigh in on the overall equation.”
Lucky for contractors, independent retail lumber yards, and farm supply stores, Madison Wood Preservers deals only in top-quality lumber, and its products have stood the test of time, generating trust since 1959.
“We sell anywhere from the Carolinas to Maine and west to the Mississippi River. If we can make it there competitively priced with freight, we will,” says President Steve Lillard.
The warehouse from which it ships is an impressive, nearly 4.5-acre, covered space in which all the company’s lumber is stored to maintain its consistently bright color and fresh-cut character. All this care contributes to providing its retailers with the best lumber money can buy.
“We only buy from selected mills that meet our high-quality standards. Every load arrives covered with tarps to protect it from the elements. The wood is inspected for moisture content and other markers before it is checked into our main warehouse where it is kept clean and dry,” says Chief Executive Officer Bill Price.
Bill’s father started the business with four partners fifty-nine years ago, laying the foundations for what has become a force with which to be reckoned. Though it started with agricultural fence poles, this company is no ‘one type fits all’ operation. It has evolved over the years, and today its tailored service is as excellent as its lumber.
The company ensures that it remains at the forefront of the latest available technology in its field and regularly upgrades its equipment.
“Madison’s treating equipment includes the industry’s largest pumps, which enables us to treat up to one-million board feet of lumber in a single day. We utilize barcode technology to document a detailed history from the day a unit is received to the moment it leaves the facility and everywhere between,” says Bill. This means that as retailers upgrade their yards, this integrated technology will revolutionize their inventory systems.
The company has a great belief in perpetual advancement and also does in-depth research into how its environmentally-friendly business strategy can be upheld throughout every new project. All waste is recycled. This includes plastic as well as steel bands, bark, and shavings; even preservative liquids are remixed and reused. Moreover, all forms of used oil are incorporated into its heating system at its brand-new maintenance facility. This newly-added 10,000-square-foot space has brought about increased productivity and significantly improved turnaround times. Another wonderful spin-off has been the influx of young professional technicians keen to gain experience and enjoy the state-of-the-art facility – a trend of which the company is particularly proud.
“We have over 175 years of service between the five officers, which is an average of thirty-five years,” says Steve. In terms of landing the best young talent in the industry, Madison Wood Preservers is as innovative as it is astute and has even added a 360-degree tour on its website to educate and welcome clients and future employees, alike. It also prides itself on keeping existing employees updated regarding policies, safety reminders, and upcoming events through the use of technology.
The company offers training workshops called MADskillz where manager trainees are brought up to speed with the latest industry ideas and concepts. It is also used as a platform where the company culture is discussed. As a result of the attendees’ collaboration, the company’s sick leave policy has been updated, and an employee trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid has been appointed in each department to deal with any possible emergencies. Each workshop creates a safe space environment where the entire team is invited to make their voices heard in terms of the development, implementation, and evaluation of systems throughout the business.
Madison Wood Preservers believes in shaping and preparing its young professionals to become the next generation of leaders by offering mentorship and guidance from industry veterans. As a result, the company is always improving its communication skills and the way in which it educates its teams.
Everything this company does is aimed at delivering the best quality products and service possible. In a bid to achieve this and protect end-users – as well as retailers’ reputations – Madison Wood Preservers has discontinued its above-ground treated lumber lines to prevent misapplication. It now solely stocks ground contact lumber, leaving its customers free to apply the product as they wish. “We wanted to take the guesswork out of it for consumers. We call it the good stuff – from the ground up,” says President Steve Lillard in a company video.
As part of this drive, it also introduced its Madwood Certified Installer program for contractors, as well as its blog where customers can catch up on all the latest news and engage with experts on topics that enhance not only their experience of the brand but also product knowledge.
“We want to appeal to independent retailers that desire to get out of the price wars of big box store products. Retailers that know they have to fill their stores with the best high-end products in efforts to attract the best high-end contractors,” says Steve.
To support customers in buying quality lumber, its experts advise retailers to consider a few important factors before purchasing lumber. It is important for independent dealers to understand their target market. Madison Wood knows that understanding your customers’ buying habits makes all the difference when it comes to setting oneself apart from the massive retail brands. Where big dealers are all about bulk, they rarely meet the quality standards that smaller retailers can offer. By focusing on quality rather than quantity, the small retailer’s secret weapon is building customers’ trust in its products which, in turn, leads to lifelong relationships.
It is also very important to ask clients in the contracting industry what their needs are and to then match those needs exactly with superb delivery and quality. Once you understand their needs, go beyond that.
According to Madison Wood Preservers, grade stamps are only a small aspect of ascertaining the quality of lumber. Customers will notice trucks hauling treated lumber from Madison Wood appear fresh and clean due to the utilization of its 180,000 square foot warehouse while competitors’ wood is typically subjected to the elements due to improper storage long before hitting the yard of a retailer. Buying from few select mills also allows consistency in the product purchased which pairs nicely with the company’s longstanding high-quality expectation.
Being a one location operation pressure treatment facility offers a definite quality advantage over treaters fighting to stock enough material to supply big box stores. “We are certainly after a niche market of suppliers looking to differentiate themselves by the materials they stock. Every little step we take in the overall big picture is to ensure end-user satisfaction,” says Kari.
As with everything in life, you get what you pay for, and lumber is no different. Standards watchdogs are there to protect the consumer, and it is wise to research your supplier’s American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) ratings for ground contact value. Another special tool in the retailer’s inventory is its lumber supplier’s knowledge of its market and its products. Madison Wood Preservers believes in partnering with its retailers to give customers the most information possible to allow them to make educated choices based on more than just price.
The last big consideration is the real cost of buying inferior quality lumber. The company suggests really getting up close and personal with back-end costs – the price of the time and labor it takes to return sub-standard lumber that often manages to make its way onto job sites.
As Madison Wood Preservers continues to find new ways of improving the lifecycle of treated lumber, its measure of success remains in the number of satisfied return customers it can generate. With an average annual growth of 12.5 percent, the company’s goal for the future is watertight.
“In an age of consolidation, we wish to remain a company large enough to compete but small enough to care,” says Bill. With the amount of dedication this team displays, there is no doubt that Madison Wood Preservers can not only attain its vision but surpass it by far.