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Sawmill Industry Is Still In A Sprint

Article by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Timber Processing November 2021

The numbing noise of nothingness. I’m referring to those times in the lumber market cycle when profits don’t exist and pessimism takes hold. Anybody in the lumber industry who has some age on them has lived through it a time or two, or 10. It’s when we at the magazine have to scramble to find news and stories to fill the pages.

We have a young man going on three years with our staff. He saw a little market softness when he started, but it’s been boom times ever since. We tell him, it won’t always be like this. It can pose a similar problem for us. When markets are down, many companies don’t want to show and tell. When markets are great, they’re too busy to take the time. Not all of them react this way, of course, which is why we continue to feed you sawmill stories in each issue.

One thing about the good times—I suppose because companies are rolling in the dough—is the frantic pace of transactions and project announcements. Just take this issue of Timber Processing for example: West Fraser buys the new Angelina Forest Products sawmill in Lufkin, Tex. Georgia-Pacific plans to build a new sawmill at its facility in Pineland, Texas. Out West, WKO Industries acquires SDS Lumber and its sawmill in Bingen, Wash. Westervelt and Roseburg both add to their timberland holdings. Overseas, binderholz Group (they use a lowercase “b” in their name) purchases Great Britain’s largest sawmill company, BSW Timber. Even the suppliers are getting into the action, as USNR and Wood Fiber Group announce a merger of their companies. The term “merger” can mean different things but this appears to be a true coming together of the companies. And if you’ve been reading the recent issues of Timber Processing, you’re very aware of the numerous other sawmill projects in the works.

Speaking of sawmill news, if you receive the printed versions of Timber Processing, you may also receive in your email the Timber Processing newsletter every other month. This is the second year we’ve been producing it and it is being well received.

We all find lots of newsletters in our emails and they share a lot of the same news that has been released by the sawmill companies. We run that news as well, but we try to expand on it a little bit to give it more context. West Fraser may announce it is buying Angelina Forest Products, and a dozen newsletters have the announcement, but our editors have been to the mill and written about it and we can add a little more substance to the announcement. GP may be building a mill at Pineland, but we provide a little information on how GP originally came into the Pineland site and what sawmill activity has been going on there through the years. Then there’s the situation in Arizona, where the Forest Service and the state are trying to build a wood products industry infrastructure, through new sawmills, OSB plants, biomass plants and timber harvesting thinnings. We also have newsletters for our logging, biomass and panel industry magazines, so we’re writing a slightly different version of that story for each of those newsletters and each of those magazines, constantly updating each version along the way.

We’re enjoying the hectic pace of transactions while we can. It requires our editors to dig a little deeper and put in a few more hours, but it beats the alternative: the numbing noise of nothingness.

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