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Bedford company plays part in reconstructing after Sandy

Union Leader Correspondent

November 09. 2013 12:38AM
Ted Severance, left, and his son, Pike, of Coastal Forest Products of Bedford, show some samples of the Iron Wood Ipe timber used to rebuild the Long Beach boardwalk in New Jersey. The company's subsidiary, Timber Holdings, has been supplying Brazilian hardwood since 1971. The company also supplied wood to rebuild Atlantic City, Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., and other boardwalks destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. (SUSAN CLARK/Union Leader Correspondent)

BEDFORD - If you get a chance to stroll along the rebuilt boardwalks of the New York and New Jersey shores, take a minute to look down and admire the milled wood supplied by Timber Holdings, a division of Coastal Forest Products.

It took a year to reconstruct many of the boardwalks destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, when 80 mph winds ripped through the eastern coastline killing 117 people, including 53 in New York and 34 in New Jersey.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered residents of the barrier islands from Sandy Hook South to Cape May to evacuate. Casinos closed, and transportation stopped. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered evacuations in low-lying areas of the city. Subways were flooded, schools closed.

All city and commuter rails and buses were suspended, Broadway shows and airline flights were canceled.

Coastal Forest Products, at 451 South River Road in Bedford, helped bring some of those areas back to life by supplying Iron Woods Ipe decking to the Long Beach Boardwalk Project in New Jersey after negotiations with the restoration's general contractor, Grace Industries of Fredonia, Pa.

Timber Holdings also supplied materials to rebuild the boardwalks in Atlantic City, N.J.; Coney Island in Brooklyn; Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park, Fire Island and Saltaire on Long Island, N.Y.; and Liberty Island in New York City, and other reconstruction projects.

Coastal Forest owners Ted and Pike Severance said the timber was harvested and milled in Brazil and that it is one of the most durable woods, resistant to decay and insect infestation.

"Iron Woods Ipe is approximately four times harder than oak and eight times harder than pine, based on the Janka wood hardness test," Pike Severance said. "The durability of the species will allow it to last 40 to 50 years."

Coastal Forest Products acquired Timber Holdings in 2011, but the Wisconsin company had been an importer of Brazilian hardwoods since 1971.

"One of the reasons why we got the job is because our record is so clean," Pike said. "Because of the Lacey Act, there's a lot of consequences for us in not doing it the right way - 10 years in jail and a $1 million fine - so we make sure it's done right."

Fulfilling the order presented some challenges because wood for the five-mile Long Beach boardwalk had to be supplied in a short time period and had to be graded correctly. Pike said the dry season in Brazil is from June to December.

"Usually, it starts raining in January to June. This year, it rained longer and made it very difficult to get the wood on time," Pike said.

The project also required about 1 million linear feet of decking.

"It's great work for us coming out of the recession and seeing life come back to the industry," Pike said.

Ted Severance said the Long Beach boardwalk was destroyed mainly because the underpinnings of the structure washed away. While watching TV, Ted said he saw a report about the devastation in the New Jersey shore area and a man holding timber.

"I wondered what that guy is going to do with all that wood. If he knew what he had, he could have made some money," said Ted. "It was really sad to see those homes being destroyed with all that water around them."

The Long Beach boardwalk is expected to officially open to the public by Nov. 12. According to reports, the boardwalk reconstruction cost the city of Long Beach $44.2 million.

"Grace (Industries) finished it on time, but it was at the end of the season," Ted said.

Coastal Forest Products is family owned and operated by Ted Severance and his sons, Pike and David.

The company has been in business for more than 25 years, but Pike said his Manchester roots go back seven generations.

His mother Ann Felton Severance's family was known for their famous brushes; the Felton Brush Co. was in business in New Hampshire for about 160 years. Ted's father, Fred, opened Seal Tanning in the Manchester mills in 1945. The former tannery was housed in the mills from Granite Street to the Waumbec Mills building.

Coastal Forest Products sells decking and railing, siding, shingles and trim, and other professional products to retail lumber yards throughout New England and New York.

The company is headquartered in Bedford, and has two milling and staining locations in Bow. The company also imports wood to Newark, N.J., and Savannah, Ga.

Locally, Coastal Forest products are available at Mast Road Lumber in Goffstown, Benson's Lumber and Hardware in Derry, and at Belletete's Building Supply in Nashua, Peterborough and Jaffrey, and in Andover, Mass.

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