Johnson Lumber was founded in Carthage New York in 1977 when the Johnson brothers David, Ronald, Robert and father Harold wanted to pursue another business. The business happened to be a sawmill.
The first sawmill was located on Johnny Cake road, just outside of Carthage, NY, where Ronald and Robert started with one employee. Top production at that time was about 3,000 board feet (bf) per day and some of the products produced were pallets and hay wagons. All the lumber produced then was green, there were no drying kilns at that time and all sawing was done with a circular saw.
In 1980, Robert and Ronald built a new mill on Route 26 just outside of Carthage where production jumped to 7,000 (bf) per day with a total of four employees. The land was previously owned by their Grandmother, Robin Johnson.
In 1984 the brothers created Johnson Log Homes which created another outlet for their products as well as boosting employment at the mill and in the construction division.
From 1985 to 1988 the brothers ran a logging operation to supply the mill with their own logs. This practice was discontinued in order for them to better focus on their primary business, the sawmill operations.
1987 marked the addition of the first dry kiln and planer which opened up new markets for the business. In that year employment went up to eight employees. At this time the old mill was torn down and kiln #2 was built on that site. At the same time, a new mill (40′ x 180′) was constructed. Production went to 16,000 bf per day, employment went to fourteen employees.
On October 14th, 1994 at 4:00 pm, the sawmill caught fire and was completely destroyed. Ronald and Robert made the decision to rebuild the mill and continue the business.
On January 16th, 1995, construction started on the new mill and the installation of a new wood burning boiler. Production started at the newly rebuilt mill on May 1st, 1995. Production at that time was 20,000 bf per day.
In 1996 kiln #3 was added and employment went to 25 employees.
From 1996 to 1997 two more kilns were added and production grew from 26,000 to 35,000 board feet per day and employment increased to 25 employees.
In 1999 the front three acres of the yard were paved and in the year 2000 Johnson Lumber began manufacturing mulch. At this point they employed 40 people.
In 2003, two new 50,000 bd ft dry kilns were added that would not only decrease the drying process by three days but substantially increase the production. A new moulder was installed for premium and finished grade specialty items. Also purchased was a new Peterbilt tractor to haul the 3 new trailers. A tarp side trailer was purchased for delivering lumber, a log trailer for hauling in logs and a live bottom trailer used for delivering their own mulch.
In 2007, The company’s sawmill line added an HMC V-2110 debarker. From the new debarker, logs are sent to an HMC AC40 Board Dog carriage with an IESCO 125 hp carriage drive and a McDonough 6-foot double-cut band mill. The company uses a Cardinal 6-inch gangsaw for resawing and a Paul optimized edger for edging. Boards are conveyed from the edger by an HMC rollcase to an HMC MDS50 trimmer. Finished lumber then goes onto an HMC green chain and the log home timbers are routed to an HMC band resaw. Out of the four dry kilns, two are Cathild kilns and two are Irvington-Moore (now USNR) kilns. Between all four kilns, the company has a total kiln capacity of 300,000 board feet. The planer mill consists of a Yates A2012 six-head planer and an HMC MDS50 drop saw trimmer with a bin sorter.
Since the start of the economic recession, Johnson Lumber has added four significant pieces of machinery, all of which have helped increase its services and its customer base. Each of the machinery pieces added between 2009 and 2011 were strategically chosen to allow the sawmill to expand on existing product lines and offer customers new value-added services.
In 2009 a new building was built, and an End Matcher was installed. This machine tongue and grooves the ends of the boards. A new line of Johnson End Matched Products was created. Products that are end matched can be continuously installed out in the field!
In 2010, two very futuristic machines were installed in the same building as the End Matcher! The first one was an Ultraviolet Clear Coat Machine, which is used to put clear coat on products such as end matched 1×6 tongue & groove. The second was an Infrared Staining Machine, which is used to apply stain to products such as end matched 2×8 log siding. Once the installation of both machines was completed, a new line of Johnson Pre-finished Pine Products became available!
In 2011, a Shavings Mill was installed to increase shavings production to ensure supply for growing demand.
In 2014, all new Sellick Forklifts were purchased to make moving units, loading and unloading trailers more efficient.
In 2017, Johnson Lumber purchased adjacent land. This additional land allowed for more area for raw pine to be air-dried a portion of time, before going in the kiln, to save on energy use. In addition, construction of a new 170×200 building began. In 2018, construction was completed, and equipment moved in. This new building is now the home of the entire Pre-Finishing Department, including a new state-of-the-art UV Clear Coat machine, as well as the original UV Clear Coat machine and Infrared Stain machine. In addition, a second planer mill was added and installed in the new building to help keep up with demand for pre-finished products. The end-matching machine was also moved into the new building and positioned near the planer mill for efficiency.
In 2018, new trucks and trailers were purchased to continue to service customers around the Northeast.
Over 200 retail yards are serviced with Johnson Lumber’s fine pine products in New York State alone. Since 1977, the goals have always been to manufacture high quality lumber, provide excellent service, grow the business, and explore new avenues and markets.
The Johnson brothers present tours to individuals, schools, and clubs. They strive to educate the public and our children of tomorrow with their forestry management program. This program, along with the certified forester’s, will insure the forest harvests every 10 years. Visiting the mill is a great way to see the lumber industry at work and learn how the sawmill will be here for generations to come. Schedule your tour appointment by calling the office.
Robert and Ronald acknowledge that their employees are the key to their future.