A Company’s History with Deep Family Roots
After Mobile River Sawmill sold, Lee started Overseas Hardwoods Company to import superior hardwoods available from Southeast Asia. Lee realized that Apitong / Keruing, Meranti (Phillipine Mahogany), Merbau, and other tropical species were stronger, denser, longer-lasting and less expensive than the American hardwoods he had produced.Lee searched for the best lumber and lumber products no matter the source country. His initial travel led him to the Philippines where he found the Insular Lumber Company and obtained exclusive representation of ILCO products in the southeastern US. Lee had two goals with supply chain development – source the best lumber and lumber products and grow long-term relationships with reputable and reliable producers, just as he had done with southern landowners when sourcing oak.To supply the best products available, OHC counted on local manufacturing. With a loyal, devoted and experienced manufacturing team, OHC grew in its first 20 years into a complete flooring mill with dry kilns, a planer mill and a cut-up plant. OHC’s manufacturing produced the most consistent and reliable products available to the transportation industry including laminated flooring for truck bodies, sills for refrigerated vans, tie slats, scuff boards, and stakes for stake bodies. Strategically located near the Port of Mobile, Alabama, OHC was able to buy and import at lower costs due to a freight advantage with close proximity to an international port. For its almost 50 years in business, OHC processed hundreds of millions of board feet, including:
- Apitong / Keruing for trailer flooring and truck parts, Kapur for various industrial applications
- Purple Heart for heavy industrial applications and construction
- Jelutong for pattern work, carvings, fishing lures
- Meranti for custom millwork, doors, windows, furniture, decking, and boats
- Philippine Mahogany – furniture, water skis, billiards tables, millwork, boats
- Merbau – flooring
- Alan Batu – flooring and millwork
- Virola/Banak – moldings, picture frames
- Andirobia – furniture frame stock
- Ipe – decking and flooring
- Garapa – decking
- Cumaru – decking and flooring
- Tigerwood – decking and flooring
- Angelim Pedra – flooring, industrial applications
- Genuine Tropical American Mahogany – furniture, architectural millwork
- Jatoba – flooring, furniture
- Teak – boats, furniture
- Red Oak – moldings, architectural millwork, flooring, furniture
- White Oak – moldings, architectural millwork, flooring, furniture
- Poplar – light construction, moldings, water skis
- Sap Gum – light construction, moldings
- Ash – flooring, furniture, tooling
- Hickory – flooring, tooling
- Walnut – furniture, flooring
- Cypress – furniture, siding, millwork
- Southern Yellow Pine – flooring, decking, fencing, construction
Today, OHC continues to be family and locally owned, run by a team of 90 great folks, and the third generation of Robinsons, including Lee Jr. (President), Gregory (Operations), Tresy (Accounting) and Luckett (Finance/Business Development). OHC has offices and facilities in Alabama, Texas, Illinois and Wisconsin. OHC continues to manufacture and sell a wide array of lumber products. OHC invented a new process to manufacture full length flatbed flooring that ensures each lineal foot of each floor is proof load tested and exceeds the strength requirements of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Associations’ standards. No other company in the world does this. OHC supplies virtually all major trailer manufacturers with flatbed flooring, laminated truck body flooring, tie slats, refrigerated van sills, scuff boards, and plywood.
When Gregory Robinson joined the company, he used his fluency in Portuguese and forestry education to expand into South America. OHC quickly developed into a leader in high end decking products for homeowners, public boardwalks and bridges, marinas, and commercial applications.
To supply consistently high quality hardwoods demands, not only retaining reliable suppliers, but also stringent manufacturing processes and thorough quality control and testing programs are exercised by OHC. Our production team routinely takes samples from products to undergo intensive testing to ensure our materials meet or exceed our customers’ expectations. OHC’s laboratory is outfitted with equipment needed to perform these testing procedures allowing us to scrutinize each sample at a microscopic level. Our production team reviews all defects and are made aware of any quality issues that may surface, allowing for a heightened alertness in exploiting any defect concerns.
OHC also promotes responsible forest management and instituted training programs in its supply chain. OHC hosted the Malaysian Timber Industry Board on its trip to the US to review proper forest management practices during its quest to create fully Sustainable Forest Management.
Although OHC has grown into a major importer and supplier of lumber products, its focus and core foundations remain the same. Source high quality timber products from a trustworthy and responsible supply base. Employ talented individuals who are well paid and will manufacture and ship superior products timely. Operate a conservative business with sufficient capital to achieve these goals in both good times and bad.