Maley & Wertz Merges High-Tech With Traditional Processing

By M.A. Wallace

Evansville, Ind. – Maley & Wertz provides Premium Indiana Hardwood to furniture makers and other wood-product manufacturers across the nation – and around the world. The company’s present day success is the accumulation of nearly 125 years of attention to quality in the finished product and a wealth of practical lumber industry knowledge.

“In many ways, we’re more focused on our customers’ success than our own,” said Mike Powers, general manager of Maley & Wertz. “That’s who we keep in mind at every step, from raw material to shipping.”

Extensive species list

To support a wide range of customer demands, Maley & Wertz offers a wide range of species, including Ash, African Mahogany, Basswood, Beech, River Birch, Yellow Birch, Cherry, Cottonwood, Hackberry, Hickory, Genuine Mahogany, Hard Maple, Soft Maple WHAD, Soft Maple WHND, Red Oak, quartered and rift Red Oak, White Oak, White Oak WHND, quartered and rift White Oak, Poplar, Sycamore, Sassafras and Walnut.

The company stocks 4/4 to 8/4 in all species and 10/4-16/4 in selected species. Widths, color sorts and S2S, SLR or S4S ripped stock are among the inventory options available, as well as Maley & Wertz’ added-value processes of cutting to width and length and planing using a Northtech finish planer, two Buss 55 rough mill planers, a Diehl straight line rip saw and a Torwegge gang rip saw.

The intake yard receives between one and 20 tractor loads of lumber daily at Maley & Wertz, using two ALH (automated lumber handling) green grading chains with stackers.  Six full-time certified lumber inspectors stay busy too, walking the chain to examine every piece of hardwood. They are among the first of Maley & Wertz’ 50 employees to handle, inspect and process lumber through the course of a 45-hour work week.

“We believe that walking the chain yields the highest quality product possible,” said Powers. “Our inspectors use Forestry Systems, Inc. wireless JETT handhelds for tallying bundles, and then transmit those totals to FSI’s YARDMASTER Lumber System. Wood is restacked in eight air-drying sheds before it enters the kiln drying process.”

The art of kiln drying

Maley & Wertz operates 15 USNR kilns with a capacity of 900,000 board feet. Each kiln load’s content is determined by a combination of oldest-first inventory control and marketing strategies. Modern internet technology enables Powers to monitor the kiln’s around-the-clock operating data through Kiln-Boss software at home, but he acknowledges that this has not – and will not ever – replace hands-on, scratch-and-sniff inspections of each load.

“Between myself, the owner, and our two kiln managers, we’ve got more than 100 years of combined hands-on experience in running kilns,” Powers said. “We shoot for a five percent moisture capacity and then restore about one percent of that moisture with steam equalization.” After kiln drying, the lumber is re-inspected and regraded through three ALH kiln-dried grading chains for width and color sort.

Fast-moving inventory

At any given time, Maley & Wertz maintains 6 to 8 million board feet of lumber, in green and in kiln-dried inventory that is stored in the company’s 500,000-square-foot warehouse. It takes 10 Hyster forklifts to manage the material. But it doesn’t stay in inventory for very long – Maley & Wertz sold 15 million board feet of lumber in 2008. Key sales personnel at Maley & Wertz include Philip Fischer, domestic and export sales and Carl Bonnell, domestic sales. The company’s sales force is located at the manufacturing plant.

Maley & Wertz ships its finished products using a fleet of six company trucks, as well as by common carrier, less-than-truckload services, freight service, rail and ocean container. Although its greatest concentration of manufacturing customers lies within a 250-mile radius of Evansville, Maley & Wertz products also arrive at furniture and wood-product manufacturers in Canada, China, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Mexico. “We continue to cultivate the global market for Maley & Wertz products,” said Philip Fischer. “We are currently concentrating on growing the markets in Vietnam and India.”

125 Years and Counting

Today Maley & Wertz is owned by Art Klipsch. A third generation of the Wertz family is still on staff at the company. J. Wertz is the grandson of company founder Daniel Wertz, who was the only one of seven brothers to branch out from the family business of farming. And, like any company with connections to a harvested crop, the sustainability concepts of the founding owners are still very much in place as part of the company’s operating and customer-service principles. Maley & Wertz derives 80 percent of the company’s energy requirements from a CKI gasification system that converts scrap lumber into gas for production requirements. The system was funded through an interest-free loan from the City of Evansville’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Fund.

Maley & Wertz is one of Evansville’s ten oldest companies and is recognized by the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) as one of the nation’s oldest lumber companies. “Founding owners Daniel Wertz and his uncle Henry Maley understood the fact that while lumber is a product, timber is very much an agricultural crop – it must be tended and harvested responsibly,” said J. Wertz. “And the same also can be said of taking care of the needs of customers as if they were family. We’re still operating that way, without a lot of flash, but a long-term commitment to serving our customers’ needs – and to supporting the sustainability of an industry.”

For more information about Maley & Wertz, visit or call (812) 425-3358.

Published in April, 2010 by National Hardwood Magazine, a publication of Miller Publishing Corporation.

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