You’ll Find A Mill In Moncure
Story by Rich Donnell,
You’ve probably already noticed on the cover of this issue, and you’ll notice beginning on page 10 in this issue that Uniboard’s new MDF/ HDF plant in Moncure, North Carolina is in the spotlight.
To begin with, if you’re driving from, say, Atlanta, or farther up the interstate at Charlotte, it’s not easy to get to Moncure. I mean you can take the interstate up and around to Raleigh and then backtrack southwest to Moncure, but that’s no fun. Which means, you’ll be taking the highways near or through the likes of Concord and Asheboro, and Siler City and dipping down to Sanford before shooting back up to Moncure, and which also means you might be calling your mill appointment in Moncure and asking for another 30 minutes because it seems like you’ve been running in place.
Actually it’s a nice drive; the kind of drive that allows you to gather your thoughts. Some of my thoughts concerned the Moncure mill property, where Uniboard has built its new MDF plant and on which Uniboard also operates a particleboard plant and melamine laminating operation.
I was thinking about the site’s different owners through the years. But I was mistaken on my premise that Weyerhaeuser had been the original owner. Tom Ruedy, the Uniboard Director of Business Development of Moncure MDF & HDF, quickly set me straight when I finally reached the plant.
Evans Products had started up an MDF plant here in 1971, Ruedy told me. Then Weyerhaeuser bought it in 1974. Ruedy, after graduating from Virginia Tech, had gone to work for Weyerhaeuser at its corporate headquarters in Tacoma, before Weyerhaeuser sent him to Moncure in 1978 as a quality control guy, and he hasn’t strayed too far since. Weyerhaeuser owned the operations until 1999, and I say “operations” because Weyerhaeuser started up a new particleboard plant in 1987. In 1999, Weyerhaeuser sold its Moncure operations to SierraPine. SierraPine stayed around until most of 2004, when it sold to ATC Panels. Then Uniboard bought the complex, which included a melamine laminating operation in addition to the particleboard plant, and the inoperable remnants of the old MDF plant.
Something that caught my eye as I was driving into the area was the Moncure Plywood mill just down the road. A little research revealed that it started up more than 40 years ago as Triangle Plywood, then became Boise Cascade, then Williamette Industries, then Weyerhaeuser Co., and in 2004 became Wood Resources LLC of Atlas Holdings. It had been through a labor strike through parts of 2008-2009. It was still operating when I drove by it.
I don’t know of what value any of this information is to you. I do know that as I departed Moncure, my thoughts steered toward the people who had worked on these grounds through the years—their skills, their ambitions, their families. I also thought about all the new technologies that had been implemented and replaced with newer technologies, right up to Uniboard’s new plant.
I guess some old mill sites never die, they don’t even fade away (especially if the regional timber resource remains viable and accessible). At least that appears to be the case in Moncure, North Carolina.