Story by Jessica Johnson,
What a year 2013 turned out to be! As one of the “new kids on the block” in sawmilling, I definitely found this year to be an interesting one. I’ll spare the details of my first southern yellow pine mill experience; let’s just say that I think mill management spent a lot of time giving each other the “did-she-really-just-ask-that-question” look. But as I worked alongside veteran editors Rich Donnell and Dan Shell and made my way into a few mills on my own, I realized how positive this industry is about the future.
The year 2012 had been good for mills as homebuilding jumped, mills added shifts and began spending money on equipment. This year witnessed a continuation of those trends thanks to solid pricing and more homebuilding.
TP’s annual capital expenditure survey reported that 51% of sawmills plan to invest $1 million or more in the next three years. However, as Editor-in-Chief Donnell said around this time last year, “caution” might never leave our economic forecasts, given how deep the recession was felt in 2008. As we say goodbye to 2013, let’s look at some of the more memorable moments and noteworthy developments.
- Timber Processing named Finley McRae of Rex Lumber as its 25th Man of the Year.
- Harley Langdale, Jr., one of the major drivers of the longstanding Valdosta, Ga.-based The Langdale Companies, died in February. He was 98.
- Interfor purchased Keadle Lumber of Thomastown, Ga.
- Austrian company Klausner finalized the purchase of 155 acres of property in Live Oak, Fla. for a major sawmill facility, and planned at least one, if not two, more in the South.
- Blue Wolf Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, purchased Suwannee Lumber of Florida.
- Sawmiller extraordinaire Maine’s J. Paul Levesque died in July at age 82.
- International Paper sold Temple-Inland Building Products Div. to Georgia-Pacific Building Products, LLC for $710 million.
- Hankins Lumber Co. in Grenada, Miss. reopened its southern yellow pine facility after a 15-month closure.
- The International Paper sawmill in Franklin, Va., which had been closed since 2009, was purchased by Franklin Lumber, LLC, a new company composed of former employees of the mill.
- Canadian based Canfor Corp. purchased Alabama-based Scotch Gulf Lumber and three sawmills in a three-year phased-in transaction for $80 million; meanwhile Gulf Lumber principal Sandy Stimpson became the Mayor of Mobile, Ala.
- Plum Creek Timber purchased 500,000 acres of timberland from MeadWestvaco.