Giles and Kendall
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Ryan Fecteau
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Giles and Kendall, Inc., a manufacturer of CedarSafe planks and panels, has concentrated on making the finest products from 100 percent Aromatic Eastern Red Cedar. Founded in 1939, the Company is presently headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, and has a manufacturing facility in Gainesville, Missouri.
In 1985, Beverly Pierce Head III and Morris Hackney purchased Giles & Kendall from the Giles family and Head became chairman of the company. Both gentlemen were mindful of the thriving Red Cedar industry and in 1996 Giles & Kendall purchased the Brown Cedar Products company. “The organization really consolidated much of the cedar industry,” says current CEO Ed Cates, who joined Giles and Kendall in October 2013.
Known to many as a community and business leader, Head was involved in numerous leadership roles, including president of the downtown Rotary club, a member of the Children’s Hospital Board of Directors and a member of the executive committee of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Head also served as an executive assistant to the mayor of Birmingham from 1991 to 1999 in a volunteer capacity. “Beverly Head was a dynamic leader in all three phases of life; his family, business and community,” says Cates.
When Head died in 2011, his wife Mimi became majority owner of the company. She invited Cates to join Giles & Kendall in a leadership role. “She convinced me that cedar was a very good industry to be in,” explains Cates. “She explained to me how there are so many people who are not aware of the benefits of cedar, and how this company was working to change that.”
Aromatic Eastern Red Cedar has been used for years in cedar chests and closets. Known for its many useful properties, the Red Cedar is one of the most rot-resistant woods in the United States. The tree is also known for its natural insect-repellant qualities. Cedar oil derived from the sawdust been used to combat head lice and bedbugs and is commonly used in aromatherapy.
“Cedar is a natural wood product that is nicer to look at than a painted wall,” explains Cates. “It has an aroma that is much more pleasant than moth balls and repels insects without the use of pesticides. There’s really no better alternative to cedar.”
In the industrial world, very few companies are willing to “go green” unless the bottom line is impacted in a positive way. Cates feels that Giles & Kendall is able to capitalize on what used to be considered a niche market. “With people trying to deter pesticides and chemicals, the natural insect-repellant aspect of cedar is there,” Cates elaborates. “We’re in a great position to take advantage and benefit from that.”
While the product that Giles & Kendall produces is environmentally friendly, the company is also working on methods of sustainability to increase its energy efficiency. “We do use electricity to process the wood,” says Cates. “As part of the byproduct process, we use wood to run our boilers which create the steam for the oil process. We also use water from our own on-site wells, so we use very little city water,”
With just over a year under his belt as CEO of Giles & Kendall, Cates takes pride in the teamwork he has seen within the company. “We’ve developed a team that works really well together,” explains Cates. “We’ve done a lot on the operational side of the process. We’ve upgraded equipment and everyone is very aware of how to operate the machines efficiently.”
Cates is looking forward to the future of the company and educating the world on the benefits of Aromatic Eastern Red Cedar. “We’re really looking into integrating our product into the construction of new homes,” he explains. “We’ll be looking to film the process and post the videos on our website so people will be able to see for themselves how effective it really is”.
As a leader in the industry, Giles & Kendall is continuing to utilize the many benefits of the wood while also discovering new methods of use for the cedar oil that is extracted. From agriculture to fragrances, cedar oil is becoming more and more sought after as a high-end fragrance. “We looking to promote the product as the great insecticide that it is,” says Cates. The oil has proven beneficial for pet owners as well. “I know someone who has been using the product on his dog’s bed which helps prevent ticks.” Cates states that the company is also developing a method for hunters to use the oil as an insecticide.
Giles and Kendall Inc. is proud to support organizations that promote the responsible use of natural resources and is a member of the United States Green Building Council.
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