Economic development projects involving an engineered wood products company and a Canadian wood pellet manufacturer will result in a combined investment of $92 million and 70 new jobs in Houston County, as well as the potential for impact significant impact on the forest products sectors in Alabama and the Southeast.
SmartLam North America’s Dothan division plans to build a new state-of-the-art production plant on Hodgesville Road to manufacture large glulam beams and columns – a $62 million investment.
Meanwhile, Canadian company Peak Renewables will build a new wood pellet production facility on 30 acres behind the SmartLam facility, using sawmill residue to produce the wood pellets it markets for power generation. renewable.
“The solid timber industry is in its infancy,” said Derek Ratchford, managing director of SmartLam, during an announcement at the Dothan Opera House on Friday. “It has just started. It is experiencing rapid accelerated growth; that is why we are here today to announce what we are doing.
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Glued laminated timber, or glued laminated timber, engineered wood products are used for large, high-strength beams, lintels, and columns. SmartLam’s new automated glulam facility will allow the company to increase production and purchase additional high-strength fiber from private landowners in central and southern Alabama.
State, county, city and chamber officials gathered for Friday’s announcement, which comes just days after another company, Gateway Tire Southeast, announced a $9 million expansion dollars and the creation of 30 new jobs for the Dothan market. Regional collaboration and teamwork were constant themes as different leaders spoke from the podium on the Opera stage.
“If we as Wiregrass, if we as Southeast Alabama want to continue making noise in this part of the world, we all need to work together,” said Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba.
The new Dothan facility will make SmartLam the largest mass lumber producer in North America, Ratchford said. The new facility, which is expected to be fully operational in October 2024, will have the capacity to produce 84 million board feet per year when it reaches full production.
Ratchford said SmartLam would not be able to take this step without the support of local sawmills like Rex Lumber, which has sites in Graceville and Troy, where SmartLam sources 85% of its lumber.
Ultimately, Ratchford said the Dothan facility will be the company’s “flagship” facility.
“Over the next two to three years, this facility and this whole complex will become a bright spot for the community, and it will be great for our employees,” Ratchford said. “One of the things about my role that I enjoy the most is being able to take a small business, grow it, and make it into an industry leader – not from a personal perspective. For me, that’s the interaction with people, the ability to change the lives of our employees locally and in the community.
In 2019, SmartLam North America acquired International Beams, a Florida wood products company that had operated a Dothan facility in the former General Electric building on Hodgesville Road since 2017.
The SmartLam North America plant in Dothan was the first to offer cross-laminated timber (CLT) products made from Southern Yellow Pine. Designed to be light and strong, CLT products are used in construction for structural floor, roof and wall systems.
SmartLam’s Dothan facility is already 225,000 square feet, and the glulam facility will add an additional 140,000 square feet to its Dothan operations. SmartLam North America also has a production facility in Columbia Falls, Montana.
Along with the new glulam plant, SmartLam plans to fully automate its CLT production, allowing the company to produce 2 million cubic feet of CLT per year.
For his part, Peak Renewables CEO Scott Bax said the company’s $30 million investment will further strengthen and diversify the forestry industry in the southeastern United States.
The company operates sawmills, a finger-joint mill and a wood pellet mill in British Columbia and an OSB mill in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Peak Renewables markets wood pellets as a substitute for charcoal. Pellets are made from residual pieces of wood with no other economic use. Its spraying and heating process binds the granules together so that no additional chemicals are used.
Bioenergy products help create commercial green energy, Bax said, and can help move the world away from coal for a more sustainable future. In addition, it allows for reinvestment in sawmills and will have a ripple effect on the economic line of the community.
“We use the residues of this incredible resource known as southern pine, and this facility fundamentally strengthens the forestry sector, providing the necessary sustainability and growth, not for years, but for generations to come,” said said Bax.
Using residual wood fibers from Rex Lumber sawmills, Peak will eventually be able to produce 180,000 metric tons of wood pellets each year at the Dothan plant. Construction of the wood pellet plant will be completed by mid-2023.
Bax said the energy needed to grow Dothan is obvious.
“You can feel the energy and the enthusiasm here at Dothan,” Bax said. “You can feel it in the hall, you can feel it in the city, you can feel it in the county. People work together, and to accomplish great things fundamentally, you need teams. You need teams working together, partnerships, and putting aside egos for the benefit of the community.
Peggy Ussery is a staff writer for Dothan Eagle and can be reached at [email protected] or 334-712-7963. Support his work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.