Louis Irion started his lumber business, Irion Lumber, in 1997 after running a period furniture shop for 20 years. Demand for wide boards, essential for matching original designs, was too great to ignore.
“I hear so many times that woodworkers can’t find wide lumber, let alone matching sets of the same, and it isn’t that scarce. You just have to know where to look for it and probably pay a little more,” Irion said in our March 2006 profile “Lumber heaven.”
“Our strength is the fact that we have been involved in the lumber business for so long and have the background in the furniture business. That really has been much more of an asset than we ever realized because we also understand the processes that go with wood,” he added.
A decade later, Irion Lumber is still going strong. Located on a 300-acre farm in Wellsboro, Pa., the sawmill specializes in stocking plain and figured Pennsylvania cherry, tiger maple, unsteamed Eastern black walnut, mahogany and butternut, with intermittent supplies of curly birch. Thicknesses range from 4/4 to 24/4.
“The lumber business has grown,” Irion said recently. “I’d say since 2005 we’ve probably tripled our sales and the whole concept behind the business is keeping it the size it is because we can control the quality of lumber. And we are really happy to have a life and a business, too. The problem we faced in the furniture business was it ran us. That can happen if you’re not careful, so we’ve made the conscious decision not to grow out of our comfort zone.”
Irion recently purchased a larger sawmill and spends most of his time, with wife Wanda, selecting and buying logs.
The 2006 profile is available at www.woodshopnews.com. Search for “Irion.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue.