Don’t limit your pressure treated wood sales to just standard dimension or plywood products. Answer your customers’ SOS for hard-to-find preservative-treated products with TSO.
Treating Service Only, or TSO, is available from many treating companies to get customized preserved wood products that aren’t typically stocked or available. TSO is a great way to reach into new markets and differentiate your offerings from the typical treated wood products.
In TSO projects, the treater does not take ownership of the wood. The untreated material is usually sourced by a distributor, either from their yard or directly from a mill. The stock is then transported to the treating company, pressure treated and then shipped direct to the customer.
TSO is used for a variety of products, including posts and stakes for agriculture, bridge timbers and guardrail posts for transportation projects, glulams and building poles for construction, and pilings and dock materials for maritime applications.
Utilizing TSO requires planning and leg work by the distributor. But the payoff can be great.
“It’s a lot more than just calling up with purchase order,” said Jerry Farley with J.H. Baxter, which offers TSO exclusively. “But the time and effort required can pay off in delivering something your customer can’t get from other sources. It can keep them from going to another distributor to find what they need.”
“If a distributor wants to get into a new market, TSO can get you the right treatment on the wood products required,” said Danny Sosa of Thunderbolt Wood Treating in Riverbank, Ca., which specializes in TSO services. “We give people options beyond buying from traditional inventories of treated products.”
Both Farley and Sosa said it is critical to engage the treater early in the process.
“You have to know the right questions to ask,” Farley explained. “It really helps to see the specifications for the job so we can determine not only the preservative and treating, but cutting and fabrication that should be done before the wood is treated.”
“The first question I ask is ‘What do you want to use it for?’ said Sosa. “From there I can guide them to what it will take to get that item.”
Longer Lead Times
Miguel Gutierrez of Gemini Forest Products, a distributor in Stockton, Ca., specializing in TSO products, advises to plan for long lead times.
“I tell my customers that special orders might take up to 60 days, depending on the product or the treatment,” said Gutierrez. “If you need a custom size or if remanufacturing must be done first, it takes time to get the right product. It could take two to three weeks or longer before the wood products are ready to ship out of the mill and then it has to fit into the treating plant schedule.”
Sosa said when markets are strong, it may take longer to get the TSO product treated.
“We usually schedule the treating as first come, first serve,” said Sosa. “We’ll tell you where you’ll be on the schedule, but since we do all custom work, there’s no jumping ahead in the line.”
Navigating local government requirements is another benefit of TSO sales.
“Many of our projects, particularly marine or bridge jobs, require the wood be treated under the Best Management Practices (BMPs) to meet regulations,” said Farley. “More than half of our TSO business must be produced under the BMPs, so we can provide all the documentation needed to show the product meets the spec.”
In addition to custom sizes, TSO is used for preservative systems that aren’t as widely available or for volumes that aren’t typically held in distributors’ inventory. Gutierrez and Sosa both said TSO business is growing for fire retardant treatments in California.
“Light industrial and multifamily projects in California are using a lot of fire retardant lumber and plywood,” Gutierrez said. “Many distributors don’t keep a big inventory of those products, so TSO is the best option for getting enough product for the job.”
TSO treaters can offer more than just treating. J.H. Baxter can incise the wood for products used in the most demanding conditions and offers custom kiln drying after treatment. Thunderbolt offers custom drying as well as staining for TSO products.
For many distributors, using TSO will add to what they can offer customers.
Sosa noted, “If you have the time and want to save money in getting that unique wood product your customer needs, we’re your ticket.”