In May 2008, I started working at Forest2Market. My first assignment was to scour the news and talk to our contacts about changes in mill capacity, and therefore demand for timber, in the South. As part of our mission to keep our subscribers informed about industry happenings, I would then write about these changes for Forest2Market publications.
In May 2008, the industry was experiencing the devastating effects of the housing market crash and recession; for two years or more, I felt like I reported nothing but bad news: another closure, another curtailment, another project put on hold. The perennial bearer of bad news, I often wondered if our subscribers cringed when they saw my work in their mailboxes, since they inevitably knew that bad news was lurking in those pages.
At some point, though, my job actually got harder. Once supply had been reduced to match the reductions in demand, there was no news to report at all. Mills were no longer closing, but they were treading water. No re-openings or new facilities were announced for what seemed like eons. At one point, I made myself a sign, a skull and crossbones warning to all who entered my office:
When you're tasked with reporting the news, the old saw, "No news is good news" couldn't be further from the truth. While no news was certainly good news for all the facilities still operating (a far more important thing), no news is always bad news for a writer.
In September of 2012, nearly four and a half years after I began reporting industry news for Forest2Market, I can say we've reached a turning point in the news cycle. I now have good news to report for the building products industry and the landowners who have traditionally grown sawtimber and pulpwood for lumber and panel production.
- OSB mill to ramp up production: Georgia-Pacific announced on September 18 that it plans to begin production at its Clarendon County, South Carolina OSB mill in the first quarter of 2013. G-P purchased the mill from Grant Forest Products in May 2010, spent $30 million to complete construction of the facility and then announced that due to weak demand, they would not open the plant. Since the housing market finally appears to be on a sustainable path to recovery--one that can only improve in 2013 and 2014, this move positions G-P to take advantage of strong demand in the years ahead.
- Super-capacity lumber mill eyes three potential sites in Southeast: The U.S. subsidiary of Austrian lumber company, Klausner Group, is considering three potential sites for a 700 million board feet/year lumber mill. Initial reports indicated that the mill would be built in Suwannee County, Florida near Live Oaks. County commissioners there recently approved the mill, though Klausner has not yet signed the contract. On September 25, the company asked the county for more time to consider their options. Other sites in contention, according to the Suwannee Democrat, are in Halifax County, North Carolina (air permit received) and Orangeburg County, South Carolina (air permit application filed).
These announcements, coming as they are at the start of a sustained housing market recovery, are surely just the beginning. I look forward to covering many more openings and expansions as 2013 and 2014 unfold. In the spirit of optimism, and in support of what Forest2Market believes is a gradual upward trend line in housing starts and lumber and panel demand, I wadded up my warning sign and sent it hurling toward my trash can.
Have you heard of other new announcements for new facilities or capacity expansions? Please share them with our readers by posting a comment.
YOU MEANT ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC & WE WOULD BE VERY WELCOMING OF THE NEW MILL…WITH AN ABUNDANT SUPPLY OF TREES, A PRO BUSINESS AND INVITING GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATURE, A MOTIVATED WORKFORCE, AND BUSINESS FRIENDLY RIGHT TO WORK LAWS
I heard the big LP OSB mill in Clark County,Alabama is going to come online sometime in early 2013.
According to our sources on the ground in Thomasville, Ala., LP has begun interviewing job applicants in anticipation of refiring its shut OSB plant at Thomasville. If all goes well, the big plant is supposed to begin operations in early January. It is supposed to begin taking pine pulpwood this month.