What do Timber Merchants do?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Timber merchants are business professionals that engage in the cultivation, preparation and sale of various types of lumber and timber. The merchant may focus on a specific area of the timber industry, such as securing and selling reclaimed timber, or be more involved with timber harvesting and preparation that is ultimately sold to a third party who distributes the product to individual clients. In most cases, the successful timber merchant possesses a blend of experience, expertise and formal training that make it possible to address every aspect of the timber business.

Understanding the science of forestry and forestry studies is a basic for just about all timber merchants. This is especially true if the merchant cultivates tracts of forest for routine harvesting and replanting. The merchant will understand how long it takes for new plantings to reach maturity, what is needed to promote proper care during the growth period, and how to harvest the timber to best advantage.


Generally, timber merchants who own and operate their own growing tracts will also own facilities to prepare the harvested lumber for sale. While many think that the job of lumberjack and the basic sawmill are part of the past, both are still very much alive and active in the world of timber. Lumberjacks are members of the crews that harvest and transport the logs to the mills, where the logs are shaped into planking and other forms as specified in the customer orders. Once the timber is successfully prepared, it is shipped to retail outlets, buyers, or other third parties that broker the timber.

Timber merchants may also focus on the acquisition of high-quality planks and timber that can be rescued from buildings that are scheduled for demolition. Typically, the merchant has specific standards that the reclaimed timber must meet. However, it is often possible to purchase the reclaimed lumber for a reasonable sum and resell the timber at a significant profit. In this scenario, the timber merchant does not have to deal with harvesting and preparing new timber. Instead, any tasks related to preparing the reclaimed lumber for sale can be outsourced to a third party, then shipped directly to buyers.

As with any type of business venture, timber merchants must comply with local laws and regulations in order to conduct business. This may include securing the proper business licenses, carrying required insurance and bonding, and making sure the financial records of the business meet the standards required by local and national jurisdictions. In the event that the merchant conducts business on an international scale, other regulations may also apply.


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