Quality Hardwood Products, INC., is a certified Indiana Hardwood Producer and member of the
Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen's Association. We produce premium Indiana walnut veneer logs and lumber.
In May of 1972, Kathy and Roger Presl who had been married for 5 years, decided to leave
Wisconsin, where they grew up and attended school together, and migrate to Indiana.
Roger had been working in the lumber industry for the 9 previous years and he had
received a job offer in Indiana that was too good to turn down. While working on
his new Indiana job in sales and purchasing, a supplier was having problems running
his sawmill efficiently. Roger had made several suggestions to this fellow to improve
his efficiency and rather than take the advice Roger was offering, he made Roger a
proposition for which Roger could purchase his sawmill business for a fair price with
no money down and no interest. So, in 1973, Roger and Kathy decided to accept the manís
offer and purchase his sawmill business. It was a rocky beginning, with a recession
hitting the lumber industry in 1974. Somehow, the new business managed to survive
that recession and began a long slow growth that is still happening today. Roger
and Kathy faced several other economic downturns that affected the hardwood lumber
industry in 1981 and 1990. Meanwhile, Kathy was raising a daughter and two sons,
all born in Indiana, while she did all the office work and record keeping
for the business, which included another new business, HearthGlow packaged firewood bundles,
which was started in 1989.
At that time Roger was doing all the sales of lumber and purchasing of logs and
timber, while doing the Headsawing, lumber inspection, maintenance, and mechanical
work. We were producing cut up firewood, delivered on the
local markets for several years when the International Harvester truck plant in Ft.
Wayne went on strike idling 5,000 workers. About 4,000 of them temporarily went into
the firewood business and Quality Hardwood Products firewood business slowed
so more firewood was produced than could be sold. Faced with this dilemma, Roger
noticed pre-packaged firewood was being sold at convenience stores and campgrounds.
Most brands were poorly packaged and either rotten or green. The labor involved in
stacking and drying the wood was too labor intensive, so we looked for a solution
and finally found one when a new debarker was purchased and installed. We discovered
we could package the debarked firewood full length, in large bundles and pile them
high in our yard, which allowed air flow and drying to an acceptable moisture
content for burning.
Roger then singlehandedly built a wood bundling manufacturing plant in a building
that was originally built for lumber inspection and production began. It was 5
years before that business eked out a small profit, and since then business has
grew each year to the point that we were buying slabwood from more than a dozen
other mills and had to build a much larger new plant to be able to meet our
distributerís demands of over 250 semi loads per year.
During all this while, all the old buildings were demolished and a new
office, bandmill, and high production flitch mill were added. Log merchandising
became a large factor and a new yard was added to take care of this business,
which has grown to a point that even this yard is too small to handle the large
log exporting business that has developed over the years. We sell domestic markets
as well as shipping containers to all parts of the world and are noted in China as
the Number 1 Indiana Walnut log supplier.
We now have over 30 loyal Co-workers, most of which have been with us over 10
years, with our longest Co-worker, Forrest Howard, being with us since 1978.
Roger and Kathyís son Kelsy has been with the business since 2000 and is learning
day by day on what it takes to successfully run our business.
Andy Ayres is the sawmill manager and Ben Vineyard heads the timber and log department.