Mill expansion

Canfor's expansion of its Urbana sawmill may lead to 36 new jobs.

Canfor Southern Pine, the operating company for Canfor’s operations in the United States, has made an investment of $8.8 million for upgrades at its sawmill in Urbana (Union County).

“We are installing a third continuous dry kiln so we can increase lumber production substantially and add a second shift early in 2018,” said Derek Ratchford, Canfor Southern Pine’s regional manager for Arkansas.

“It will lead potentially to 36 new jobs at the mill, an increased demand on local harvesting operations, and help us meet the growing demand for quality southern yellow pine lumber in the U.S.”

The Urbana sawmill is in an area with abundant and high quality fiber supply, and produces premium southern pine lumber. It currently has a workforce of nearly 140, and an operational capacity of 145 million board feet (mmbf) per year, which will increase by 45 mmbf.

“The new kiln will have drying capacity up to 90 mmbf of dimensional lumber annually – 60 percent more capacity, which will allow maintenance to be scheduled in a more efficient manner,” said Ratchford. “We’ve already started training employees for the rollout, and expect to be operating by spring.”

Ratchford joined Anthony Forest Products in 2003, which was later acquired by Canfor, so he knows how important the mill is to the region.

“When Canfor acquired Anthony Forest Products Company in 2015, it was clearly a great match. Both companies have long histories, and both started small as family-owned businesses, growing on reputations as producers of quality forest products with excellent customer support.”

Since the acquisition in 2015, Canfor has invested $7 million at Urbana with plans for an addition $13 million to be spent from now through 2020.

Click an emoticon to express your reaction to this article.