Merrick Hardwoods branches out
IT’S NOT JUST A FIGURE of speech to say Steve Merrick can see the forest for the trees.
Merrick is the president of Merrick Hardwoods, a Somerset-based integrated forest products company he founded in 1985 alongside his late father, Odell Merrick.
While Odell had made a name for himself as a furniture maker and founder of Cumberland Wood & Chair, Steve launched his career as a high school senior in 1978 by focusing on the lumber itself.
“When I got out of school, I bought a sawmill, so I kind of went off in a different direction,” Merrick recalls.
Originally called Somerset Wood Products, the company has branched into multiple divisions and operations, including timber, drying and milling, plus manufacturing lumber, hardwood flooring and pellets for heating and grilling.
With Steve’s son, Cameron, as director of operations, the third generation of the family tree extends into today’s workforce of more than 300 employees. The company operates in several locations in Kentucky and sells both within the U.S. and to businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Merrick Hardwoods’ two sawmills cut over a million feet of green lumber each month, not including lumber purchased from dozens of independently owned sawmills in Kentucky and neighboring states.
“The good Lord blessed us to be in Appalachia, with quality people and quality raw materials,” Merrick says. “We have a forestry staff and a 100-year plan on all of our own company-owned land. We want the growth of the timber to be continuous. We have selective cutting as the timber matures.”
A proud member of South Kentucky RECC, Merrick says his local electric cooperative has been a partner in the company’s growth.
“They have been phenomenal,” he says. “Anytime we do a project or expansion or need help, South Kentucky is ‘Johnny on the spot.’ All through the years, I can’t say enough about how tremendous they’ve been.”
Efficiency and stewardship
While the bulk of the lumber produced by Merrick Hardwoods goes into uses such as flooring, cabinetry and furniture, the company’s biofuels division helps ensure nothing goes to waste.
“We take all the excess wood fiber and sawdust and put it into a heating and a grilling pellet,” says President Steve Merrick. “We’re pretty proud of that. Other than the sweepings off the floor and the trash that comes out of our plant, as far as wood products, we are zero waste.”
The company produces about 2.5 million bags of premium wood pellets annually.
OTHER PLANT LOCATIONS: Somerset Munfordville
INDUSTRY: Vertically integrated forest products company
ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE: South Kentucky RECC