Gregory Lumber Inc. — a large, family-run sawmill in Java that has been in operation for almost 30 years — is in the midst of an expansion that will increase its production by 50 percent.
Todd Haymore, the state’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, announced the expansion Wednesday at Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex in Chatham. Haymore said the expansion will add three new jobs to the company’s current roster of about 45 full-time workers — but stressed that the economic impact of the project will benefit the community in other ways.
Gregory will invest $3 million in construction and equipment to add an automated lumber sorting system to the sawmill, which will increase the value of the business — and the amount of local taxes the company pays, Haymore said.
It also has the potential to add jobs elsewhere, Haymore said, noting that a 50-percent increase in production means more truckers will be needed to haul the product on to its next stop — and that while those truckers would not be paid by the lumber company, the companies ordering the lumber would be paying more workers to transport the wood.
Also important in the deal, Haymore said, is Gregory’s commitment to purchasing almost $8 million in local and state timber over the next three years — about 75 percent of the timber needed to supply the company’s expansion.