Original article published by The Chronical Herald, written by James Risdon and published on July 14th, 2020

TCH Risdon ThermalWood1 Horizontal large

ThermalWood Canada, a maker of heat-treated wood that purportedly outperforms cedar in resisting rot, is eyeing expansion after clinching its first North American distribution deal.

Inked earlier this month, the deal gives ThermalWood access to the Weston Forest network of Ontario home renovation outlets.

“They have access to 300 hardware stores and 14 people on the road,” says ThermalWood co-owner Bob Lennon. “It’s a major deal.”

Using a giant oven, ThermalWood takes hardwoods and essentially petrifies them, a process that changes the wood’s chemical and structural properties.

The company claims this makes the wood more stable and helps it last longer when used for siding and decks. It guarantees its decking materials for 25 years and its siding for 60 years.


Lennon refuses to divulge ThermalWood’s revenues or profits – but he admitted in an interview the company’s year-over-year sales of decking materials were down by 29 per cent. He chalked up those figures to a more than three-month closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ThermalWood shut down in early March, knocking several months of revenues from its latest year-end financial results. Its year-end is in June.

Since re-opening, though, sales at ThermalWood have been booming, says Lennon. The company is in the black.

“I’m starting to see interest from Atlantic Canada that I’ve never seen before,” he says. “We’ve seen an increase in decking sales compared to what we have had in the past.”

ThermalWood, which now employs seven people, is already planning to buy another oven to double its capacity within the next three years. Those ovens can cost up to $3.5-million when bought new.

The uptick in decking material sales at ThermalWood comes as most lumber yards in Atlantic Canada face a shortage of building materials, including pressure-treated planks for decking and plywood for home construction.

Just across town from ThermalWood, the local Home Hardware was completely out of most standard lengths of decking material last week. There was only enough of one length of pressure-treated decking to make maybe six small, backyard decks. Everything else that could be used for decking was on back order.

“During COVID, we have seen an increase in the number of DIY projects
  that consumers are doing at 
home. There are current challenges facing
  most home improvement stores right now, delays in 
securing supplies of
  plywood and pressure-treated lumber.”

Many other lumber yards in Atlantic Canada were even more strapped for stock. An Irving-owned Kent Building Supplies’ spokeWOMAN blames COVID for the sudden spike in demand for lumber.

“During COVID, we have seen an increase in the number of DIY projects that consumers are doing at home,” says Mary Keith, JD Irving’s vice-president of communications. “There are current challenges facing most home improvement stores right now, delays in securing supplies of plywood and pressure-treated lumber.”

Pressure-treated wood, which is created by letting preservatives sink into the surface of a piece of wood, is a very different product from ThermalWood. The heat-treated wood is also several times more expensive.

Lennon considers it to be an entirely different market and claims growing concern over environmental issues is leading consumers to favour ThermalWood, which contains no preservatives, over other products.

“We don’t want to compete against pressure-treated lumber,” he says. “Those guys are too big. We’re in a niche market.”


It may be a niche market – but it’s growing.

Last week, ThermalWood was hammering out the details on yet another deal, this one with Fender Musical Instruments. The California-based maker known for its fine electric guitars already buys necks for its guitars from the Bathurst manufacturer. In February, it placed an order for 12,000 necks.

Now, Fender is interested in a new ThermalWood product, commercially branded as “gemwood.” It’s a strip of maple infused with resins to give it the appearance of ebony, an increasingly difficult and expensive wood to source, at roughly half the price.

Fender’s first order is expected to be for two million fretboards.

It’s not alone among the Who’s Who of guitar makers eyeing ThermalWood products. C.F. Martin & Company, the maker of Martin guitars, is also looking at these fretboards and has already tested them and given them two thumbs up.

Although there are other companies which manufacture thermally-treated wood using the same process as the Bathurst company, none of them is in Canada. The closest one using the same technology is in Europe, although there are other companies that use different processes in Quebec.

In addition to lower transportation costs for Canadian products going to the United States compared to European products headed for North America, ThermalWood is also currently benefiting from a currency market that has made its products relatively more affordable.

Lennon is optimistic about ThermalWood’s international expansion into the musical instruments market and also into the possibility of manufacturing thermally-treated wooden lawn furniture, decking for yachts, and even gun stocks for the American market.

In its showroom, ThermalWood has a prototype of a bird’s eye maple gun stock made with a piece of equipment invented in Bathurst, at the local campus of the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick.

“There are a lot of markets we haven’t even looked into yet … in terms of different products,” says Lennon.

To view the article online, please see the following link for complete article: New Brunswick maker of heat-treated wood inks deal with Ontario distributor to 300 hardware stores

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