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CEA Manufacturing & Distribution Winner: NC Lumber Carves Out Sustainable Product

By Johanna F. Still, posted May 6, 2022
MANUFACTURING & DISTRIBUTION | NC LUMBER & SUPPLY Rob Moore & Carter Derrick, Co-Owners | Year Founded: 2016 | Employees: 30 (Photo by Michael Cline Spencer)
NC Lumber & Supply was first born by a space problem: Hordes of East Coast Lumber Co.’s unwanted wood kept piling up, taking up more and more of the warehouse floor.
 
“We were storing quite a bit of it,” said Rob Moore, co-owner of NC Lumber & Supply.
 
Co-owners Moore and Carter Derrick were then (and continue to be) sales representatives for East Coast Lumber Co., a wholesale wood manufacturing facility in Climax, North Carolina.
 
East Coast Lumber processes logs and prepares them to be sold directly to big-box home improvement stores. The process inevitably leaves behind “factory seconds,” which is wood with flaws or gnarls that aren’t ripe for clean-cut construction materials desired by large retailers.
 
Before, the company would resell the unwanted collections or let them pile up in the warehouse. In April 2016, Derrick and Moore launched a spin-off company, NC Lumber & Supply, with a warehouse off Old Dairy Road in Wilmington.
 
NC Lumber sells specialty pieces made from factory seconds and uses the East Coast mill to process the wood into new products, including tongue and groove, shiplap siding and flooring, Moore said.
 
“We just saw an opportunity where we thought we could pair customers with a cheap-value product that we had,” Moore added. “It allowed us to get rid of some of our byproduct that we were producing in-house.”
 
Today, the company has 11 warehouses across the Southeast and has plans to open up a couple more by the end of the year. Each warehouse is staffed by lumber industry veterans who help customers navigate their specific needs.
 
Though there are a handful of businesses that also work within the secondary wood market, there aren’t many in the region, and most tend to market themselves as “salvage” operations, Moore said.
 
“We specialize in real wood siding, paneling and flooring,” he said. “There’s not a lot of people doing that.”
 
They also offer higher grades of wood of various species.
 
NC Lumber offers customers an affordable but still quality product. The majority of its customers are DIYers, with many returning small-scale or specialized contractors and house flippers frequenting the warehouse.
 
The success of NC Lumber has benefitted both organizations, the owners said, giving East Coast Lumber a steady revenue stream.
 
Compared to working with large retailers while selling East Coast Lumber’s products, Derrick said it’s been gratifying to experience the personal touch of interacting directly with customers through NC Lumber.
 
“The most rewarding thing about this for me was dealing with the customers,” Derrick said. “We were sitting on our other business dealing over the telephone and not being able to see the end product. In this venture, we talk to the customers, properly educate them on products,” and customers share photos of remodels and furniture crafted with their repurposed wood, he said.

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