. . .And Back In The U.S.

Article by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Panel World July 2023

As has often been the case in my previous trips there, perhaps the leading topic of conversation at the Ligna show in Hannover, Germany in mid-May was the status of multiple new projects back in the United States, such as Roseburg’s new MDF plant in Oregon, Kronospan’s new OSB plant in Alabama, Hood Industries’ new softwood plywood mill in Mississippi and the discussion landed on some rumors that had been percolating.

I ran into a friend from the U.S. who is, how I can put this, “involved” in the panel industry. This person asked me if I had heard that Huber had selected a new location to build its next OSB facility. I told this person I hadn’t heard and asked where it was. “I can’t tell you,” this person answered. “Why not?” I asked. “Because the person who told me swore me to secrecy,” this person said. “I shouldn’t have even told you they had selected a location.” We laughed at the exchange. I mean, why not tell your most confidential information to the editor of a panel industry magazine?

“What letter does the state start with?” I asked with a chuckle. This person thought a moment, “Okay, it’s M.” In grade school I had learned a song in which you sang the names of the states in alphabetical order. “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas…” It was usually good for winning a beer in college when I pretended I didn’t know any such song but was just trying to recite the states in alphabetical order, purposefully stumbling over a state along the way as if I couldn’t quite remember it until miraculously coming up with it, much to the groans of my easily impressed peers.

My mind and memory quickly raced through the song: “Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska…”

It wouldn’t be Maine. Huber already had one there. Maryland, Massachusetts, nope. Michigan, possible, but unlikely. Minnesota, are you kidding me after what Huber just went through there? Mississippi, very possible, the state had come on like gangbusters with sawmills and plywood mills and apparently has timberland to spare. Missouri, negative. Montana, don’t think so.

“Mississippi,” I said. “Don’t say you heard it from me,” this person said. “I’ll never identify you,” I said, “except maybe by your initials…just kidding.”

Bernstein, Woodward and Watergate it wasn’t, but a couple of days later I did a Google search for Huber Mississippi. Lo and behold. There it was, not an official announcement from Huber, but a joint public notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi Dept. of Environmental Quality Control that Huber wanted to build an OSB plant in Shuqualak, Noxubee County, Mississippi, and the purpose of the public notice was to inform the public, I guess, that Huber wanted a permit in order to discharge fill material into some wetlands. It got much more specific than that, but my initial thought was didn’t Huber didn’t get enough of the wetlands thing during its effort to build an OSB plant in Minnesota before saying goodbye? I’m guessing the circumstances are much different this time.

I was able to pull together this information and get it on our news site online. About two weeks later, after I returned to the U.S. from Germany, Huber officially announced it was building its next OSB plant in Shuqualak, Miss. I owe my friend a beer.

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