Global Supplier of Wood
Kretz Lumber, which has grown from a small sawmill into a global supplier of wood products, was established in 1929 by Joseph and Myrtle Kretz. At the time of start-up the responsibilities in the company were split between Mr. and Mrs. Kretz and their three sons; Charles, Leon and Raymond.
This ownership ran the company in some form until the early 1970s when Joseph and Myrtle’s grandson, Dan Kretz, took over the business. Under Dan’s leadership the company grew from a small sawmill operating one shift into a two-shift sawmill operation with dry kilns and a dimension plant. In December, 2000, Dan Kretz sold his share of the business to the employees under a legal structure called an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.
Over time, Kretz has grown from that original sawmill that sold “green” lumber to secondary manufacturers, mainly in the region of the Great Lakes, to a “Global Wood Products Company” with markets for its products in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Canada, and Mexico in addition to its loyal customer base in all regions of the United States.
Kretz has two main products, kiln-dried hardwood and rip-to-width solutions for dry lumber. Additionally, it manufactures a myriad of products that are produced as an off-fall from the main products and marketed as a result of the value of wood overall and its quality of leaving no waste. These additional products include industrial lumber, woodchips, sawdust, bark, wood-shavings and boiler ash.
“The most exciting thing about working for our company is the unique ownership structure,” Troy Brown, president of Kretz Lumber, said. “After all obligations are met, the benefits are distributed to the employees in combination of current benefits and pension benefits. Second, there is the unexplainable trend that once a person is in the wood industry, for some reason, they rarely leave it.”
Brown explained that at the grassroots, the business is very informal.
“Also, it is well known in the industry there is a benefit to society because of the sustainable measures taken to manage the forests and harvest the trees, then manufacture logs into lumber without any waste,” he said. “Finally, there is satisfaction of knowing everything produced has a unique value to the next user of the product.”
Over the next decade, Brown predicted that Kretz will need operators for more efficient and expanded lines in the manufacturing plants. Also, in contracted employment, there is going to be a need for loggers to supply our company and the local paper mills.
“For most positions we train with our supervisors and mentors,” he said. “ The cost of hiring a person, and the cost for the development of someone hired to contribute to maximum productivity has increased so much. If we have our way, a potential employee would have either an educational background related to a specific job or experience. This maximizes our efficiency.”
Manufacturing Spotlight is a limited-term series that looks at some of the industries located in the Antigo area with an eye on letting potential employees understand the opportunities that exist in the region and the skills required. It is being done in cooperation with the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation and Northcentral Technical College. Comments and suggestions are always invited and can be sent to .
Source: Antigo Daily Journal