The Martins Do It Again

Nearly ninety-five years after Roy Otis Martin purchased Creston Lumber Mill in Alexandria, Louisiana for $32,000 and renamed it Roy O. Martin Lumber Company, the Martins have started up a $280 million Greenfield oriented strandboard plant in Corrigan, Texas.

Let that one sink in a while.

Much has been written in the pages of this magazine and elsewhere through the years about the Martin family and its remarkable forest products business, which we know best as RoyOMartin or even Martco. The family itself published a book some years ago, but as demonstrated by the new Corrigan OSB plant, it’s a story that apparently has no ending.

My familiarity with the company and its current chairman, Jonathan Martin, goes back to when he was focusing less on their pine sawmill in Castor, La., where he had been plant manager, and more on the startup in 1983 of their first OSB plant in Lemoyen, La. The company had started up the Castor sawmill way back in 1933, and the founder’s son, Ellis, who was Jonathan’s father, became plant manager there in his early years.

Many years later Ellis led the company into OSB and Jonathan took the lead on the construction of the OSB plant. Martco’s mill at Lemoyen, GP’s OSB mill at Dudley, NC and LP’s “waferwood” mill at Corrigan, Texas were the first three in the South, all reporting production in 1983. Unique to Lemoyen however was that its raw material was hardwood, as the Martins owned considerable timberland in the area packed with low grade hardwood. The company also started up a hardwood sawmill at Lemoyen shortly after.

Speaking of sawmills, as the company continued to invest heavily in OSB—starting up a second one in Oakdale, La. in early 2007 and of course the Corrigan facility this year—sawmills always had their place: Alexandria, La.; Castor, La.; Lemoyen, La.; Mexia, Ala.—all of them since sold, but now running a timbers mill adjacent the Martin softwood plywood mill in Chopin, La.

And speaking of Chopin, by the time it began production in 1996, Jonathan was president and CEO, and his cousin Roy III was executive vice president and CFO. While I had conversed with Jonathan many times, it wasn’t until 2004 when I visited the new and very impressive headquarters in Alexandria that I had the good fortune to converse with Roy. Their official titles have changed through the years, not that anybody ever had their titles straight anyway.

I don’t recall ever asking them if they felt they were lumber guys or panel guys, but I’m guessing they would respond that they are simply forest products guys and point to the 550,000 acres of certified timberland the company owns. They are also very spiritual guys, philanthropical guys and employee-centric guys. At the fear of leaving somebody out, I won’t even begin to name the talented personnel they’ve always surrounded themselves with.

I’ve always been very appreciative that they have continued to let our editors into their mills so we could write and publish articles such as the one that starts on page 10 of this issue.

May many more chapters be forthcoming.

Article by Rich Donnell,

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