Katahdin Forest Products, the Oakfield-based maker of cedar log homes, is considering expanding its sawmill in Ashland at the same time that a lumber dispute between the U.S. and Canada leaves a cloud of uncertainty over the market.
Amid ongoing growth in sales of log homes and fences, Katahdin Forest Products is looking at the possibility of “a significant expansion” at its Ashland mill, according to David Gordon, the company’s president.
The potential expansion would rely on electricity purchased directly from the nearby ReEnergy biomass power plant at favorable rates and could roughly triple the mill’s employment, Gordon said.
Katahdin Forest Products, best known for its cedar log homes, purchased and restarted a softwood sawmill in Ashland in 2009 and has since invested about $200,000 and brought the number of workers to 11, Gordon said. The company has long had two sawmills in Oakfield, near major stands of cedar in southern Aroostook County, and decided to buy the Ashland mill close to cedar stands in the North Maine Woods, Gordon said.
The company’s cedar sawmill is now one of 11 forest product companies in greater Ashland, including Moosewood Millworks, EcoShel, Northeast Pellets, ReEnergy and the two large lumber mills, Maibec and JD Irving. If the potential expansion goes forward, employment at the Ashland mill could grow to 30 to 35 workers, Gordon said.