When Grant Led The Way

When Grant Led The Way

When Grant Led The Way

Article by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Panel World July 2019

The story in this issue on Georgia-Pacific’s OSB plant in Clarendon County, South Carolina brings back memories. Not memories of Georgia-Pacific, but rather of Grant Forest Products, the Ontario-based company that built an OSB plant in Allendale, SC, then immediately started construction of the one at Clarendon, before undergoing financial pains during the recession and ultimately selling both OSB plants to GP (owned by Koch Industries) in 2010.

My memories go back to September 1989 when I visited Grant Forest Products’ new OSB line in Englehart, Ontario. The Grant connection to the GP story prompted me to look into my old files. I have thinned them out through the years, but some I’ve kept because the subject matter left an impression. Sure enough, the Grant file on the Englehart startup was there, fully intact, perhaps untouched in, could it really be, 30 years?

It’s a thick file. Much of the material is the literature that Grant produced for the grand opening of the OSB line, such as the layout of the plant, the history and current makeup of the company, and most impressively a colorful magazine that delves into the development of the project and its successful realization.

Another item in the file is a printout of an article, written by my predecessor Griff Griffin, that appeared in the February 1983 issue of Panel World on Grant’s new waferboard mill that had started up in 1982, one of several waferboard mills coming on line about that time. That article refers to 38-year-old Peter Grant as a “gutsy entrepreneurial.” He was the oldest of eight sons born to the late Morgan Grant, and most of them were involved in managing the various businesses founded by their father, including farming, trucking, construction and sawmilling.

Another reason the Grant file was so thick was that 30 years ago people still used typewriters, and so there are pages of my typed up interview with Peter Grant from when we sat in his office for a good hour before I toured the new OSB line.

Grant, educated in civil engineering at Michigan Tech, had worked in construction in the U.S. before returning to the family business. He became general manager of Grant Lumber’s planing mill at Elk Lake, before venturing into waferboard.

Grant told me the new OSB line cost about $75 million. It was located adjacent the waferboard line, each with their own dryers, blenders, forming line, multiple-opening press, and trim saw lines.

Peter Grant was known for his innovations and I recall the new OSB line using a combination of liquid and powdered resins, longer (6 in.) strands in the board, fines put back in the board. “We do things much much differently than anybody else does. I can assure you that,” Grant told me.

I had interviewed another waferboard/OSB pioneer, LP’s Harry Merlo, four years earlier. About the time I interviewed Grant, LP seemed to be building an OSB mill every year. I wondered then if Grant would follow such an accelerated path. He didn’t go that route, seemingly content on what he had built at Englehart, until his 2005 announcement to build two OSB plants in South Carolina.

Those didn’t pan out for Grant, but his legacy is all over them today. Meanwhile I hear that Grant has recovered nicely in the farming industry.

 

 

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Arauco Closing Eugene MDF

Arauco Closing Eugene MDF

ARAUCO announced it is closing its medium density fiberboard (MDF) production facility in Eugene, Ore. as of May 1. ARAUCO states it will continue to support customers from its other facilities, and that the decision was based on an assessment over several years that the older manufacturing platform was less competitive compared to the company’s other more advanced MDF platforms.

“Decisions regarding plant closures are difficult,” says Pablo Franzini, president of ARAUCO North America. “We are working diligently to provide options for Eugene employees to help them through a difficult transition. We are committed to meeting our customers’ needs from our other facilities.”

A month earlier ARAUCO announced it is closing its particleboard line in Moncure, NC Carolina as of April. It cited similar reasons.

ARAUCO’s Moncure MDF line will be integrated with a molding line to create an advanced MDF millwork operation that will drive efficiencies and support the company’s commitment to provide customers with value-added products. “The new investment will strengthen our millwork footprint to better serve our customers,” Franzini says.

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When Grant Led The Way

Where Plans Take Shape

Where Plans Take Shape

Article by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Panel World March 2020 

From the looks of it going in, the Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference & Expo (PELICE), which is scheduled for March 12-13 at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta, Ga., is offering up its best lineup of speakers and sessions since the inaugural PELICE in 2008. That’s saying something, because there have been some good ones.

Take a look at some of the keynote speakers from producer companies from both the structural and non-structural sides of the wood products industry: Ashlee Cribb of Roseburg, Steve Carroll of Arauco, Mark Lindquist of Huber, Bernd Bielfeldt and Luciano Tiburzi of Egger, Terry Secrest of RoyOMartin, Jerry Uhland of CalPlant I. All of these people and their companies have been in recent years or are currently going through some major mill projects. They’ll be addressing these projects but also providing insight on the makeup and direction of their companies as we enter the year of perfect vision. If you look at the titles of some of their talks, you see “Growth through Innovation,” “Building a Future,” “Journey to a World Class Safety Culture.”

As always, the PELICE keynote lineup includes somebody who can provide the “big picture” in terms of production, market and economic trends for North America. That would be Frank Goecke of AFRY (formerly Pöyry), whose talk on the second morning of PELICE is entitled: “Dynamics in Wood-Based Panels and Engineered Wood Products—Opportunities and Challenges for the North American Industry.”

Breakout sessions on the first day include Handling & Process Technologies, Project Implementation (if you want some insight into project engineering and construction, this is a must), Air Emissions Treatment, Board Scanning Technologies, and Women in Manufacturing. We noticed that last year RoyOMartin held a Women in Manufacturing Day,” so we decided to insert the topic in PELICE, and as a result Michelle Driscoll from RoyOMartin and Anna Umphress from Georgia-Pacific will deliver talks on the subject.

One thing that stands out about 2020 PELICE is that the second day sessions are exceptionally strong including: Mass Timber Developments, Fiber Developments, EWP Performance and Process Improvements (those sessions combined include 14 presentations). All of these follow the morning keynote session, which includes three speeches, ranging from markets to adhesives to decorative veneer. The amazing thing is that all of this is concluded by noon. PELICE has always prided itself on packing a lot into what amounts to a day and a half long conference.

As we go into PELICE, impeachment is over, the presidential primaries are upon us, housing starts have ticked upward, and the stock market (as I write this anyway) has been very good.

As you read this you can probably still preregister on the show site: www.pelice-expo.com, and by all means feel free to walk up the day of the conference and register at the PELICE desk in the Omni North Tower Grand Ballroom.

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Roseburg Gets Chester Rolling

Roseburg Gets Chester Rolling

Roseburg Gets Chester Rolling

Roseburg Forest Products held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 28 to celebrate the grand opening of its newly constructed engineered wood products plant in Chester, SC. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster participated in the event along with Roseburg President and CEO Grady Mulbery and Roseburg owner and Chairman Allyn Ford.

The Chester Engineered Wood plant features the highest-capacity LVL (laminated veneer lumber) press in the world. The project was first announced in summer 2017 and the construction team broke ground later that year. When fully operational, the plant will employ at least 145.

The Chester facility will produce LVL headers and beams used in residential and commercial construction. Roseburg first established its engineered wood business in 2001 and currently manufactures RFPI Joists, RigidLam LVL and RigidRim rimboard at its engineered wood products plant in Riddle, Ore.

Roseburg did extensive research prior to choosing a location for the new plant, with criteria including market demand, raw materials availability and cost, and business climate. Roseburg clients in the Eastern U.S. will now have access to a stable supply of high quality LVL products.

“South Carolina is a great state to do business in,” Roseburg President and CEO Grady Mulbery says. “Our research showed that this region was an ideal place to locate this facility, with its steady demand, healthy market and bountiful wood supply. Chester County and the state of South Carolina stood out, offering outstanding support and assistance as we navigated through the process.”

Attendees at the ceremony included state and local politicians, regional officials, and more than 100 recently hired plant employees. After the ribbon cutting, project leaders guided guests on a tour of the expansive manufacturing plant, which produced its first board on September 19.

“What started out as an undeveloped plot of land is now home to a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility thanks to the efforts of a team of people with the vision and knowledge to make it happen,” comments Allyn Ford, Roseburg owner and chairman. “Because of those efforts, 145 people will have jobs that did not exist before, and 145 families will earn a stable income in a safe work environment that contributes to the overall health and prosperity of this community and this state.”

Upon full production, the line will produce up to 285,000 m³ of LVL per year, made possible by microwave preheating and continuous press technology. Dieffenbacher supplied the LVL press and the upstream 600 kW microwave.

To produce high quality LVL, the veneers are evenly heated in the microwave over the entire mat thickness. The special design of the Dieffenbacher CPS press infeed means the distance the mat has to travel “without pressure” upon leaving the microwave until reaching the maximum pressing pressure is less than 2,500 mm. This prevents pre-curing of the resin. Fast-hardening glue can be used to increase production speed and capacity.

In addition to boosting capacity, the ideal combination of microwave and CPS also enhances board quality. The continuously produced LVL boards have more consistent mechanical board properties and significantly lower thickness tolerances. Subsequent sanding is not necessary. For example, unsanded LVL boards can be used directly as scaffolding planks, and unsanded veneers can easily be pressed into high quality boards.

Dieffenbacher LVL technology reportedly enables board thicknesses of up to 120 mm and allows MUF adhesives to be used in the top veneer overlapping area. The Roseburg line in Chester is Dieffenbacher’s eighth LVL project with a continuous press.

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500 Has A Nice Ring To It

500 Has A Nice Ring To It

500 Has A Nice Ring To It

500 HAS A NICE RING TO ITArticle by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Panel World January 2020

In baseball, 500 is a magical number, and if a player hits 500 home runs during his career he’s on track to make the Hall of Fame. This issue of Panel World is number 500 in its 60-year lifespan, having been founded in 1960; and while Panel World may not be destined for anybody’s Hall of Fame, there’s still something to be said for its longevity as we enter 2020.

The fact that this is the 500th issue had slipped by us editors. Nobody on the editorial staff had thought about it, and we were in the process of planning the editorial content for this issue, when Shelley Smith in our production department buzzed me and asked me if were going to do anything special, given that this is the 500th issue of Panel World.

Actually we had done something special back in our March 2010 issue, when we devoted much of the issue to the 50-year anniversary of Panel World. So after giving it some thought I felt there would have been too much redundancy in doing something similar with this issue. But certainly number 500 deserves a mention. So thank you, Shelley.

James Burrell was the founder and the first editor of Panel World’s predecessor. He had been an editor for two other wood industry publications based in Indianapolis that had just been sold. He tells the story of sitting down at his desk in March 1960 and trying to decide what kind of magazine he wanted to start, blessed with financial support from Review Publishing Co., which later merged with Curtis Publishing Co. Burrell settled on the veneer and plywood industries. He simply called the magazine, Plywood. In 1966 he changed the name to Plywood & Panel with the intent of adding coverage of the particleboard and hardboard sectors.

Hatton-Brown Publishers of Montgomery, Ala., which already published three magazines in the forest products field, purchased the magazine in 1982, formed a separate company to oversee it and changed the name to Plywood & Panel World. I joined Hatton-Brown late in 1983 and in addition to my editorial duties on the other publications, I was told to join the editorial effort to make the magazine something better.

Right away we went hard after mill project and startup stories, while still covering industry news and product technologies. We also wrote about the personalities behind some of the great companies involved in the panel industry. That’s a formula that hasn’t changed much since then. Industry led us to where we needed to go with our coverage, which soon went beyond veneer and plywood and into particleboard, MDF, OSB and engineered wood products. In 1990, we changed the name to Panel World.

It’s been a great ride, and many great editors have traveled many miles to get Panel World to where it is today. And there’s still plenty left in the tank.

 

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The monthly Panel World Industry Newsletter reaches over 3,000 who represent primary panel production operations.

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Panel World is delivered six times per year to North American and international professionals, who represent primary panel production operations. Subscriptions are FREE to qualified individuals.

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