Komatsu WA380-7: “fast, safe, comfortable, user-friendly and the cornerstone machine in our yard”
Some of the nation’s best hardwood timber
is located in the south, specifically Tennessee,
Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Several
species can be found, and for the past 20-plus
years, Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods has
produced some of the finest-quality products
from oak, poplar and other trees within about
a 150-mile radius of the company’s home in
“We pride ourselves on attention to detail
at every level, from the person sweeping
the floor to myself,” said President/CEO
Nordeck Thompson, who along with his wife,
Mary Claire, founded the business in 1993.
“We take great care to ensure our products
are the straightest, flattest and meet our
customers’ expectations. When they receive
a product from us that’s going to be used to
make whatever they manufacture, it has to be
right. Because we consistently deliver quality
materials, our reputation is as solid as the
wood we work with.”
Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods mainly
processes six species of hardwood, including
red and white oak, poplar, ash, walnut, cherry
and hard maple. It also deals with cypress and
manufactures several different products, such
as green-on-lathe and kiln-dried lumber, logs,
ties, chips, sawdust and mulch.
Large percentage exported
In early 2000, Thompson Appalachian
Hardwoods built its first kiln and began
producing dried product. Twelve years later,
it tripled production of dried kiln products
and doubled its employment roster, after
purchasing another company.
“We manufacture a wide variety of products
that are shipped out both domestically and
internationally, and every bit of timber that
comes into our yard is used in some way,” said
Thompson’s daughter Claire T. Getty, who is
Chief Financial Officer. “We export 60 to 65
percent of our products, and we’ve found that
each product serves a certain market well. For
example, oak is popular in the Middle East,
and ash sells very well in the United Kingdom.
Domestically, poplar is in demand. Chips,
sawdust and mulch are generally sold locally.
Nothing goes to waste.”
Services include custom sorting, milling and
sawing; shipping and export preparation; and
timber harvesting. Timber is sourced from
loggers, tree sellers, landowners and from land
that Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods buys
and contracts to have logged.
Strong family business
Thompson learned logging while working
at his father’s sawmill in Hazelhurst, Ga.
Throughout the past two decades, he’s
passed the same lessons he learned about
lumber production down to the next
generation in the strong family business. In
addition to Getty, Thompson’s son Nick is
Chief Operating Officer.
Thompson’s daughter Laura Ann T.
Howell is Vice President of sister company
Thompson Transport and his daughter Mary
Lee T. McConnell recently joined Thompson
Appalachian as Human Resources Manager.
Mary Lee’s husband, Rob, works for the
company, as does Claire’s husband, Drew.
Other family members include cousin
William Faircloth and uncle David Pruett.
Additional key members of the staff are Vice
President of Sales Todd Nelson, Procurement
Manager Sam Terry and Sawmill Manager
“We consider everyone a member of the
family,” said Howell. “Some of the staff
have been here 20 years or more, and they
are certainly key to the company’s success.
Everyone is passionate about producing the
highest-quality products in the industry. I
believe that’s why our products remain in
demand and our markets have expanded
greatly during the past 20-plus years.”
Komatsu WA380-7 is the “cornerstone machine”
About a year ago, Thompson Appalachian
Hardwoods added a Komatsu WA380-7
hydrostatic wheel loader equipped with a
Rockland sorting grapple. The company worked
with Power Equipment Company Territory
Manager Heath Smith on the purchase.
“Heath and I worked together very closely
to set up that machine specifically for our
needs, and it works extremely well,” said
Thompson, noting that the 191-horsepower
WA380-7 is the highest-horsepower machine
he’s ever owned. “We can unload tree-length
logs from a truck in four passes, and we make
fewer trips from the log decks to load the mill.
It’s fast, safe, comfortable, user-friendly and
the cornerstone machine in our yard.”
Thompson also appreciates the service
Power Equipment offers. “This is the first
large piece of equipment we have purchased
from Power, but we have a long relationship.
Heath and Power did an excellent job
of ensuring the Komatsu loader was an
exact fit for us. The fact that they cover
routine scheduled maintenance for the
first 2,000 hours or three years through the
Komatsu CARE program is an added bonus.”
This year, Thompson Appalachian
Hardwoods will bring three new dry kilns
online. It recently began hauling its own
logs and lumber, as well as third-party
materials, through the newly formed sister
company, Thompson Transport, LLC, which
has 11 units.
“Our goal is not necessarily to expand our
footprint, but to continue taking care of our
customers by expanding what we already
offer,” said Getty. “We’re not looking to be
the biggest company out there. We simply
want to offer the highest-quality products
Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods
also works to raise awareness of the timber
industry and what it offers. It often hosts
tours of its facility, and it works closely with
area colleges that have forestry programs.
“It’s a way for us to give back for all the
blessings we’ve received,” said Howell.
“By working with the forestry programs,
students get a good idea of what an
operation such as ours does and how we
focus on sustainability and use every bit of a
log that comes to us. A lot of the people that
come through here also have no idea where
the materials come from that are in their
homes and businesses, and we appreciate
the chance to educate them and give them a
better idea of what it takes to produce those
materials. We really enjoy it.”