Story by Rich Donnell,
Wow, what a year! I think we can say it has ended on a higher note, mainly because of some improvement in homebuilding, which is projected to only get better next year and the next. At a recent wood products companies meeting, I actually heard the keynote speaker, an economist, say, “there’s now a shortage of housing.” It was one of those comments that causes everybody in the audience to look at each other with a “Did-he-say-what-I-think-he-said?” expression. Many mills, as we heard during the recent machinery expo in Portland, Oregon, have already begun new projects—many of them having waited for several years to do so in hopes that such a homebuilding jump would emerge in the nick of time. But let me emphasize that there’s still caution in the wind. Given how deeply everyone felt the recession that exploded in the fall of 2008, I’m not sure if “caution” ever leaves our economic forecasts again.
But before we bid farewell to 2012, let’s remember some of the noteworthy developments.
- Long-time hardwood sawmill operation, Weaber, Inc. of Lebanon, Pa., was acquired by private equity firm, Resilience Capital Partners.
- American Lumber Standards Committee approved a design value change for No. 2 2×4 visually graded southern pine lumber.
- Sawmiller extraordinaire Bud Keeney, known especially for his work with Stimson Lumber, died in January at age 90.
- Former Roseburg Lumber president and CEO, John Stephens, died in February at age 83.
- International Paper completed its acquisition of Temple-Inland, including five sawmills.
- Fifty-one percent of softwood sawmillers responding to a TP survey said they forecast a good or excellent lumber market in 2013-2014.
- Seventy percent of hardwood sawmillers said they expect their companies to be in business 10 years from now, while 19% said it would be touch and go, and 11% said no.
- Explosions at the Hampton Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake, BC and at Sinclair Group’s Lakeland sawmill in Prince George, BC killed four workers, injured others and caused a major investigation of wood dust dynamics.
- Pioneer Associates, Billings, Mont., was awarded a federal contract to thin 300,000 acres over 10 years in Arizona to support its proposed $250 million wood processing complex in Winslow, Ariz.
- Austria’s Klausner continued to consider sites in the Southern U.S. to build a large sawmill complex with a production capacity of 700MMBF.
- M.C. Dixon Lumber returned to operation as a major timbers producer in Eufaula, Ala.
- Chip-N-Saw pioneer Jim Gregoire died in July in Oregon at age 87.
- An International Wood Markets Group report said the mountain pine beetle had infected or killed more than 43 million acres of British Columbia lodgepole pine forests.
- Aaron Jones, owner and founder of 60-year-old Seneca Sawmill Co., transitioned leadership of the Seneca Family of Companies to his three daughters.
See you in the new year.