Richmond, VA–Retail lumberyard and building supplier Sawmill Surplus LLC offers tongue and groove Eastern White Pine, Southern Yellow Pine flooring, Heart Pine, shiplap, treated wood, and other specialty products.
Comprised of Ashland, VA’s Diorio Forest Products personnel, Co-Owner Ian Foley said servicing similar lumberyards as the customers of Diorio Forest Products gave the owners the idea for Sawmill Surplus. “For the last five or six years at Diorio we were selling to yards like this all over the country and we had been kicking around the idea for our own in Richmond. So by the summer of 2020 things came together and we purchased the warehouse and began bringing the lumber in and by October, Sawmill Surplus was open.”
Co-owner Carter Zierden said, “We bring in a lot of full-size material and, in this case, it is all circle-sawn wood. People are looking for different marks and different uses and applications with a lot of the things we have and our customers are only limited by their own creativity. We carry decking and dimension, green Hemlock for raised garden beds and for DIY construction projects and that has allowed us to help offset some of the costs of the commodity lumber that is out there now.”
Conveniently located at the intersection of I-95 and Route 64, just four minutes off I-95 and two minutes off 64, Sawmill Surplus recently closed on a new 10-acre, 7,000-square-foot facility. Diorio Forest Products Owner and Co-Owner of Sawmill Surplus, Dante Diorio said, “One of the most important parts in development was to try and find a location that was practical and made sense. We found our current location before the real estate market went insane and bought it within one day. We had been looking for an additional facility for quite some time. This space is twenty minutes from our initial location, which will allow us to buy more material and be able to take advantage of opportunities and pass those values on to our customers.”
Co-owner Ian Foley added, “One of the biggest advantages in this location is that a truck can pull in at one gate and pull straight out at the other gate. It’s an easy location for drivers to get in and out of.”
Co-owner Mark Burnette said, “Another advantage for those trucks is the fact that we can usually get an untarped truck in and out of here in less than an hour. People are not going to be waiting around to get their trucks unloaded. It’s a quick in and quick out for our suppliers shipping us lumber and keeping truck drivers happy is part of the business.”
Diorio added, “We have vendors that have claims or problems with loads that are in transit and instead of having to bring it somewhere or bring it back and unload it, our facility is able at times to help folks with buying that product and it saves them money.”
While most businesses experienced struggles during the beginning of the pandemic, Sawmill Surplus’s opening during the pandemic was a positive experience. Foley said, “Establishing during the pandemic was actually good timing because people were working from home doing projects. We were selling tongue and groove Pine, the ship lap and discounted treated lumber when the prices had gone crazy at the box stores. Customers were able to come in and get a deal on material and complete projects at their house that they had been putting off.”
Diorio added, “When we started the operation we over capitalized intentionally to be able to be where our vendors don’t have to wait. We’re positioned from a financial standpoint to pay our bills as quickly as humanly possible.”
From years of experience in the forest products industry to easy logistics, Sawmill Surplus offers several advantages for its customer base. Co-owner Mark Burnette said, “One of the things that I enjoy along with our customers is our simple organization. We have a very simple business plan. We bring lumber in, sell it, and put it out. We don’t have a lot of fancy freight sheets or computerized programs. It’s to come in and get what you need and go. We pride ourselves in helping customers take the time to understand what their needs are, in ways they can’t get in other places.”
Driving solutions for sawmills with slow-moving items, Diorio said the experience level at Sawmill Surplus allows purchasing decisions to be made fast and without risk. “Products can be from mills, it can be from wholesale distributors that have problems with things, or it can be logistics companies, we are nondiscriminatory buyers. We are not afraid of anything that a mill may have that they want to get rid of. There is nothing we don’t stock. If the price is right, we will bring it in here.”
Carter said, “The value we bring to the sawmills is if they need to get rid of something, we can make that happen.”
Burnette added, “We don’t have blinders on that say, ‘We don’t stock that, or we are not interested.’ We are always interested. If it is wood, particularly Softwood, we are always interested. It doesn’t matter what it is, and we are not afraid of anything. That is an exciting place to be for us and for our sawmill partners.”
With a combined experience level of over 100 years between the partners, Sawmill Surplus brings more than products to the table. Foley said, “All of our experience here in either wholesaling, retailing, or woodworking includes an in-depth knowledge where we can see the opportunities in something someone else may not see. We can see a load of lumber that’s not easily moved elsewhere, and get it where it is profitable. We can see the outlets for it, and who we are going to market it to once it gets here to make something that might otherwise be difficult to sell and make it move.”
As for what the future has in store for Sawmill Surplus, Diorio said plans are already underway to discuss future warehouses as well as retail locations.
Owners of Sawmill Surplus include Ian Foley, Dante Diorio, Carter Zierden, Mark Burnette, and Zach Hathaway.