For the Love of Lumber

Superior Hardwoods helps make a house feel like home

Walk into John Medlinger’s showroom at Superior Hardwoods in Missoula and you’re transported in time: hand-hewn beams, circular-sawn hardwood samples line the walls, flooring options checkerboard the floor. Hunting mounts peer down from the heights of the vaulted ceiling and an antique typewriter, some wooden Pepsi crates, and Ford hubcaps perch on shelves around the room. You can’t miss John: he might pop out of his office and scan the room from the top of the stairs, his signature grin and Midwestern laugh adding to the homey ambiance that is Superior Hardwoods.

John made his way to Montana in the 1970s. He was born and raised on a farm in Illinois and then ventured to California and Mount Shasta, eventually tagging along with a friend’s brother to Missoula.

“I saw Missoula and I said, ‘I’m not staying in California. I’m coming here,’” John explained. He tried a couple of semesters of school at the University of Montana but gave up school for a job with a fencing company.

Then tragedy struck. John’s father, Irving, was killed while piloting his small airplane in Illinois. John packed up and returned to Chicago to help his mother with the family’s rental properties. Within a couple of years, he convinced her to sell. Then John ventured out on his own, traveling to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a friend.

“My ma had property up there,” John said. “We logged a load of hardwood—birch, maple, and oak—and sent it to Montana. And Superior Hardwoods began.”

The name comes from the property’s proximity to Lake Superior and since 1977, Superior Hardwoods has offered wholesale and retail hardwood sales across the United States. Superior Hardwoods offers retail sales to hobbyists and woodworkers. Stacks of reclaimed wood from barns, fences, and granaries crowd the “help-yourself” room of the shop on Highway 93 across the Peak Health and Wellness Center. The lighted reader board showcases current specials for drivers passing the lumberyard. From sales to local builders to large-scale contracts, Superior Hardwoods offers something for every home.

John patented the Superior Hardwoods tagline, “Let us guide you through the woods,” a phrase that accurately represents a Superior Hardwoods tour. About half of John’s business is reclaimed wood and half is new product. Samples showcase fir reclaimed from pickle vats, redwood reclaimed from the water plume at Georgetown Lake, and Flathead cherry. An upstairs room features tables made onsite from reclaimed wood. Warehouses hold stacks of paneling, wood planks, and reclaimed pieces waiting to be milled. Stacks of corral wood fill an area south of the buildings. A pile of giant beams lay stacked beside the parking area, surrounded by January mud puddles: 20-inch by 20-inch beams that likely sunk in the St. Lawrence Seaway in the late 1700s.

For builders, architects, and homeowners, Superior Hardwoods offers a vast selection of new and reclaimed hardwoods for a variety of projects. John and his team—including his son, Cory—make it their mission to assist homeowners in finding the perfect pieces for their homes.

“This team makes Superior Hardwoods. They are great people. I’m very blessed,” John said.

Sitting his office, lined with custom fir paneling and a ceiling made with hand-hewn beams from a tobacco barn, John rattled off the names of architects and builders across Montana and the United States, professionals, celebrities, and “regular Joes” alike who’ve all turned to Superior Hardwoods for their wood needs. You could call him an addict or a collector. Either way, John and his staff pride themselves on sourcing quality pieces, whether reclaimed or new.

John still owns some of his mother’s original property in northern Michigan, harvesting wood every ten to 15 years.

“If you manage it right, and treat it like a garden, hardwood stands will last for generations,” John explained. “It’s a renewable resource that adds value to your home.”

Take a Visit Superior Hardwoods 406.251.2272

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