Since NHLA first interviewed Tropical Forest Products in 2018, the company has grown exponentially. Tropical Forest Products, founded in 2017, operates throughout the United States and Canada. Due to the company experiencing a rapid sales expansion and trending triple-digit growth annually, they have expanded into new facilities over the last year, with over 250,000 square feet of warehouse space. The company has its head office in Mississauga, Ontario, and other locations in Summerville, South Carolina; Miami, Florida; Stockton, California; and Edison, New Jersey.
Brian Lotz, the General Manager for US operations, joined the Tropical Forest Products team a year ago. Brian fills us in on his background, “My entire career focus has been on naturally durable hardwoods and their exterior applications. From the bridge industry to the boardwalk industry, onto the decking industry, the cladding industry, and the roof decking industry. I’ve walked through all aspects of the business over the 41-plus years of my career. I love this industry. I love everything about it. It has just been a marvelous place to spend a career.”
Tropical Forest Products brought Brian aboard to open a new distribution facility in Charleston, South Carolina. Lotz continues, “The new facility will have full custom milling capabilities. We are branching out to bring this added value to our customers because super durable exotic hardwoods are difficult to mill. They are hard on equipment, and as a result, a limited number of people want to mill these species. We’re investing in a very focused milling operation to handle these species. The new facility should open within the next 12 months.”
Tropical Forest Products continues to expand rapidly into the domestic and exotic hardwood market. They carry every single domestic species in 4/4 all the way to 16/4. They custom kiln dry their rift and quarter-sawn white oak from 4/4 to 10/4.
Tropical Forest Products has three brands that stand out from the crowd; the Black Label brand, Grand Reserve Limited Exotic Lumber, and a sustainability program called Legal Lumber. Each brand provides Tropical Forest Products with a unique asset.
Brian tells us about their premiere brand, saying, “Our Black Label brand is our quality brand associated with the decking and cladding products we sell. Black Label represents a hand-selected architectural grade, what I like to call the filet mignon of the log.”
Brian went on to say, “Grand Reserve Limited Exotic Lumber is Tropical Forest Products’ newest line of specialty high-end exotic woods. These species are desired for their architectural character and beauty. Currently, there are 26 species (and growing) of high-end Super Exotic Species that Tropical Forest Products will make available to the industry. We will even offer rare wood species such as Brazilian Blackheart (Pau Santo).”
All Tropical Forest products are certified as sustainable by either the Forest Stewardship Council or by Tropical Forest Products’ internal program, called Legal Lumber, which allows third-party NGOs to audit their transactions. Legal Lumber gives Tropical Forest Products credibility in the industry for its commitment to sustainability. Legal Lumber supports global forest initiatives, promotes environmental benefits, and uses renewable forest-based resources.
The Legal Lumber program was established to show that Tropical Forest Products adheres to the US Lacey Act. (A law banning trafficking in fish, wildlife, or plants illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold.) They use third-party NGOs to verify their legality by auditing every transaction that they have as an importer.
Tropical Forest Products has experienced exponential growth thanks to expanding the services they offer. Brian says, “Our services helped us flourish, but you cannot discount the growth attributed to having a strong focus on relationships. When there is more supply than demand, buyers move toward the companies with whom they have formed strong relationships. If they know you and your company, they will still come to you when demand exceeds supply because they are comfortable with the people they trust.”
Speaking of strong relationships, Brian is thankful for his relationship with NHLA, saying, “Our NHLA membership is important because it gives us broad exposure to the top consumers of hardwood products in the industry. The NHLA grading rules are invaluable to grading our domestic hardwood products. NHLA also provides guidance and services critical to participating in the industry. But the most important thing our NHLA membership provides is credibility. We are proud to be a member of NHLA.”
Successful companies often have something special that sets them apart from other companies; Brian claims, “What separates us from our competition is the speed at which we work and the investment in our inventory levels. But the more important factor setting us apart from our competitors is our commitment to the environment and environmental compliance. Looking forward, Tropical Forest Products is focused on growth and offering more and more value. Our goal is to be everything our customers need.”
You can reach out to Tropical Forest Products online at www.wearetropical.com, via email at [email protected], or by phone at either 905-672-8000 (CDN) or 855-344-4500 (US).