Baird Brothers Festival Will Showcase Its Craftsmanship
CANFIELD, Ohio — Ever since the Baird family set up operations here in 1960, two things have stayed at the forefront of the company’s mission: self-reliance and quality craftsmanship.
The mantras permeate everything Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods does. There’s a garage on site where employees keep the machinery, from lathes to trucks, operational. A concrete silo filled with sawdust feeds into the complex’s power plant, burning the dust left over from sawing and milling to fuel five generators – seven counting the backups – that keep the place running.
Packaging shipments is done in-house, too.
And all of the work is performed with care. Some employees are responsible for trimming the lumber that gets shipped in to size. Others work the eight kilns at the mill to dry the wood before it’s milled. Others take pieces of short scraps, run them through a machine that cuts finger joints in the ends and turns them into full-length moldings. In the Baird Brothers mill shop, workers turn the wooden boards into everything from doors to balusters to mantels. All are intricately carved.
It’s that kind of craftsmanship that will be on display at Baird Brothers’ Red, White and True Festival, held Sept. 23 at the mill, 7060 Crory Road.
“We’re opening up our business. Our employees are here. It’s a family day for people to come out and see what we do as a family,” says Lori Baird, human resources manager fand part of the second generation of the family in the business.
A warehouse two football fields long serves as the stock room and packaging room for Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods.
Among the entertainment will be local woodworkers and Baird employees showcasing their skills through demonstrations for both do-it-yourself adults and kids just getting started with crafting.
“We have some very talented employees behind the wall, in the shop,” says Steve Stack, Baird sales manager. “They look forward to it. It’s their chance to shine a bit, let people see how it’s done and show the pride and care that goes into their jobs and the product they produce.”
Vendors that supply Baird Brothers will set up booths, as will the Ellsworth Fire Department and Mahoning County sheriff’s office, which will help families put together Kids Identi-kits.
“Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a contractor, we wanted to have a celebration where we have some discounts for the day, where we serve lunch and breakfast. We wanted to give back to the community,” says treasurer Scott Baird.
Part of that giving back, he continues, is showing the community that there are still handmade, quality products manufactured here. “It opens the door to the public to see what we do right here in Canfield, Ohio, versus something that’s made overseas.”
And with a warehouse of finished products that stretches more than the length of two football fields, Baird does a little bit of everything. If it’s found inside a house and is made of wood, odds are Baird Brothers makes it.
“We’ve literally had people come in with ideas drawn on napkins,” Stack says. “And if we can do it, we do it.”
Taking something from concept to installation begins with the lumber shipments being inspected and graded before being sent to dry in the kilns to remove any moisture and ensure that the wood doesn’t warp or bend while it’s being worked.
The pallets of dry wood are then sent to another building, where they’re cut to size and run through what Stack calls “the blue doughnut,” essentially an MRI machine for wood that examines its density. If there are any voids or knots in the plank, the machine detects them and an employee makes note. Scraps from trimming are set aside and sometimes run through the finger joint machine to be turned into moldings that will be painted.
After everything is sorted, the boards are put back on pallets and further sorted by species and length in a warehouse until needed in the mill shop.
That is where the pieces are turned from planks to sometimes intricate, always beautiful pieces.
Not all of the pieces are custom-made. A large portion of Baird Brothers’ stock follow standard forms, Stack explains. One rack in the finished-product warehouse holds a few dozen moldings with the same beveled edge, another shelves handrails for stairs.
Those finished pieces are sent to end-users in all 50 states and most of Canada.
“We were at a trade show in Las Vegas a few years ago,” Stack says. “And we met a builder from Hawaii. So now we send a few shipments to Hawaii every year.”
For the custom pieces, Scott Baird says, the lead-time can be anywhere from two to five weeks, depending on how busy the mill shop gets.
“In the summertime, it can be a little slow. But come fall and winter, we pick up and run all the way through to spring,” he says. “In the summer, there’s a lot of framing going on. We’re the last thing to come in, the interior of the home.”
Beyond the craftsmanship of Baird employees and Mahoning Valley woodworkers, the Red, White and True Festival offers the company a chance to show off an overlooked aspect of Baird’s business: renewable resources.
“We’re using a renewable natural resource, and the family has seen to it that we don’t take that lightly,” Stack says. “Throughout our manufacturing process, we minimize waste, both to be economical and to be stewards of our natural resources.”
Pictured at top: Lori and Scott Baird are part of the second generation of the family to run Baird Brothers.
Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.
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