Featured Member: Herbert Lumber

TPM Member Since November 2013
Herbert Lumber Company
656 Riddle Bypass Road, PO Box 7, Riddle, Oregon 97469
541-874-2236 http://www.herbertlumber.com/

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of Herbert Lumber Co., in arguably one of the most difficult trades to be in. Their achievement is even more surprising when considering the business was designed to operate solely on Forest Service timber, and now the company receives no logs from federal sources. Herbert Lumber persevered through a time of rapid change in the lumber industry, and succeeded by adapting to the changing field, while ensuring efficiency and the utmost quality. The venture began as a portable sawmill, built atop a two-wheel trailer, in a rented garage in Eugene, Oregon. The small portable mill eventually grew into the company you see today.

The original Herbert Lumber crew. Milt Herbert is the second from the left.

The sawmill started when Milton Herbert was 19 years old, as a portable mill, built on a handshake agreement, to be paid back at $3 per thousand board feet, when the mill started production and the lumber sold. An old pickup towed the mill into a patch of second-growth Douglas Fir, on the Saylor Ranch on Winberry Creek, just east of Springfield. With just three hours of instruction from the old millwright who built the mill, Milt and his current partner were left to operate the equipment (and their fate) on their own. After a successful summer of selling every stick they ran through the saw, the winter weather set in and they decided to make their way to California and set up their equipment as a permanent location. By chance, they made a stop along the way in Canyonville, Oregon. On the recommendation of an acquaintance, they purchased 12 acres east of Canyonville. Milt and his partner hand-dug a log pond and set to convert the mill to a permanent location.

Lynn Herbert is the second generation owner
of Herbert Lumber Company.

Rentals were scarce in Canyonville at the time, so Milt and his wife Arlene, bought an Army surplus hospital tent to live in for the summer, while the mill was constructed. Arlene kept the first crew fed from a wood stove, for the first six months. In the fall, she went to work at the Canyonville Beauty Shop. She and Milt lived on her earnings of $50 a month, saving enough to frame in their first home overlooking the log pond.

Milt was able to buy out the interest of his partner within the first year of moving to Canyonville, and then together, Milt and Arlene continued to grow the mill as they put all money earned from production, back into the sawmill.

In 1956, Herbert Lumber purchased the Rocket Lumber Co. property in Riddle, Oregon, and operated the planer mill there. To get their operation all in one location, they moved the sawmill over in 1962, which is where the mill stands today. Milt and Arlene’s son, Lynn, started working for the family business, as a member of the logging crew as a young man. Lynn graduated from Oregon State University in 1975 with a degree in Forestry and naturally progressed into the timber department. After years of working alongside his father, he purchased the mill in 2011.

Herbert Lumber continues to use a log pond to store and sort logs.
Logs are kept in water to hep in processing.

From humble beginnings in 1947, fast forward to the current process and company ideals. Herbert Lumber is one of the few remaining mills to still utilize a log pond. The log pond houses the finest Douglas Fir logs hand-selected from the rich timber country of America’s Pacific Northwest. The timber department seeks out fine-grain, large-diameter logs in order to make premier timbers for custom timber frame homes and vertical and flat-grain clears.

Markers, Troy Boyd & Jeremy Jellison analyzing each piece
of timber to make top quality lumber.

Herbert Lumber’s client base reaches all corners of North America, and parts of Europe. Select products are on display in renowned locations such as Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall Showroom, Nike Campus, The Gates Foundation, Disney, and the Portland Airport. Keeping true to the roots of the company, Herbert Lumber places an emphasis on the employees being one of their greatest assets. As the company prepares the mill for success for another 75 years, they look to combine evolving mill technology with hands-on attention to detail, to create custom products that reflect a commitment to consistent quality for years to come.

Inside the mill, the log is prepared for cutting.
Large timbers, from Herbert Lumber, are used to create these awesome arches.
Wrapped and ready for shipping!
These guys really oversee the operation!