Does the Company’s Website Look Legitimate?
If the answer is no, this may be a sign that the company doesn’t have much investment in the industry. A suspicious website may indicate that they are brokering the lumber from different lumber yards. These groups usually don’t know where the lumber was sourced and are generally not sourcing directly from Brazil/Latin America. This uncertainty can lead to unethically sourced lumber.
Do They Have a Physical Business Address, and Can You Visit Them?
If the answer is no, then they are almost certainly brokers. These brokers often never see the actual lumber they are dealing. It goes from one lumberyard, which could be located anywhere, to the jobsite. Again, there’s no way for them to know how or where the lumber was sourced. If they do have a physical address, you should be able to visit them and see the inventory for yourself. If their warehouse is far away and you cannot visit, you should at least be able to confirm that it exists, and it is their warehouse based on Google Maps.
Do They Have a Substantial and Consistent Inventory?
If the answer is no, they may have purchased a random bundle of lumber from a group that went out of business, leftovers from an abandoned jobsite, or material that another group needed to liquidate. There’s no way to know the source of lumber acquired like this which may increase the likelihood that it came from an untrustworthy supply chain.
Do They Import Directly from Brazil?
If not, where do they get it? Ipe sourced from underdeveloped countries have a much higher likelihood of originating from unethical practices. While Brazil is still developing in many ways, it is leaps and bounds ahead of many of its Latin American counterparts in terms of responsible forest management and ethical employment practices.
If it came from Brazil, the importer should be able to produce a Certification of Origin. They may not be willing to hand it over for you to keep, and that is understandable. But they should have one dated within the last 6-8 months that confirms they do receive hardwood shipments from Brazil.