Forest Products Industry Says Goodbye To Walter

Forest Products Industry Says Goodbye To Walter

Forest Products Industry Says Goodbye To Walter

Article by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Panel World March 2024

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

 

Walter Jarck, whose career in the forest products industry spanned 65 years and ranged from logging machinery to engineered wood products, died January 3, surrounded by his children, in North Wilkesboro, NC. He was 92.

 

Jarck spent the last two decades of his life trying build a high scale, commercial production TimTek (formerly Scrimber) composite lumber manufacturing facility, and nearly pulled it off; but long before then as a forest engineer he was a pioneer innovator of pulpwood loading and forwarding machinery, and log harvesting and processing machinery.

 

Jarck was born on May 7, 1931 in Queens, New York, and learned a hard work ethic from his immigrant parents. It was when he moved with his mother to the Catskill Mountains of New York that he fell in love with the woodlands.

 

He graduated in 1953 from the New York College of Forestry at Syracuse and entered Naval Officer Candidate School. He became a destroyer officer and ultimately retired from the Naval Reserves as a Captain. He recalled while in the Navy working with ships and mechanical, propulsion, steam and hydraulic systems.

 

Upon leaving the Navy he went to work for Caterpillar Tractor Co. as a logging engineer and spent a year in their sales training program and experienced the welding, mechanical and engine shops and was involved in the development of root rakes. “By the time I left I knew how a scraper was built, how a bulldozer was built, so I was really turned on by that,” Jarck said.

 

In 1958 he moved to the South and went to work as a forest engineer for Bowater, which was building a paper mill in Catawba, SC. “My boss said, ‘we have a six hundred million dollar paper mill being built and we’re going to be relying on the sweat of a few laborers to hand load and to bring wood in. There’s got to be a better way.’”

 

While Jarck was supervising the construction of buildings and wood yards for the new mill, he started looking at ways to mechanize logging equipment, which would alleviate the traditional practice of mills having to stockpile six months of logs in their wood yards to overcome the winter weather.

 

In the early 1960s Jarck led the development of the Go Getter pulpwood forwarder and in the mid 1970s working with Charles Allen the Allen Jarck Harvester for felling pulpwood and processing it into sticks, an early version of today’s cut-to-length machinery.

 

In 1982 Jarck joined Georgia-Pacific as assistant vice president and senior forester. He was involved in policy making and in several acquisitions. He retired in 1996 from Georgia-Pacific as corporate director of forest resources and then taught industrial forestry courses at the University of Georgia for several years.

 

Jarck was far from retired. In 2001 he and partner Geoff Sanderson acquired the world rights to the Scrimber technology from the Australia government interests that invented it in the mid 1970s. Scrimber was produced from small plantation trees to form a reconsolidated wood product with uniform properties comparable to sawn timber.

 

Jarck and Sanderson formed TimTek (they didn’t purchase the Scrimber name) and their newly formed company purchased the pilot plant in Australia and relocated it to the campus of Mississippi State University.

 

They wanted to build a true scale plant that would produce a product up to 48 in. in width, up to 6 in. in thickness and almost any length. TimTek beams, they said, would compete favorably in the large sizes for trusses, garage door headers, joists, rimboards and long-span structural timbers.

 

Jarck wrote: “Our process can best be summarized by crushing the debarked small diameter stems in a scrimming mill, then drying the scrim or mat of fibers, adding adhesives, collating the mats, steam pressing, then cutting to size and finishing. The resource can be softwood or hardwood in the 4-8 in. diameter classes. Resources of this nature are available at delivered prices that are one-fourth or one-fifth the cost of resources purchased in the sawtimber or veneer log categories.”

He also believed the TimTek products would satisfactorily counter the non-wood and steel framing increases in residential construction. “The steel stud manufacturers have somehow convinced the environmental home buyer that their steel product has lower impact on the environment than that of using wood,” Jarck said. “While we know this is false, a new product such as TimTek not only uses fast grown plantation trees, renewable every 10 to 12 years in the South, it is a lower user of energy and is a great carbon sequester.”

Jarck sub-licensed his product and technology to a company in Mississippi that publicly announced it was building a plant, but it never materialized. He thought he was close to another project in the Western U.S. and one in Canada, but they went away as well.

 

Jarck had married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn Matthews, on September 26, 1954, and they were happily married for 66 years. She passed away in 2020. They had five children, Lisa Arney, Nancy Clontz (Ted), Paul Jarck (Vicki), Laura Dennis and Chris Cunningham (Lance). They also had 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

The family wrote upon Jarck’s death: “The words that best describe Walter are strong, determined, talented, and devoted. Walter was a strong leader and 1role model for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Walter was devoted to God and his family. He was a great man, loved by many, and will be truly missed.”

The family asked that in in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Wounded Warriors Project.

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. . . And Back In The U.S.

. . . And Back In The U.S.

. . .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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Time To Stretch The Legs

Time To Stretch The Legs

Time To Stretch The Legs

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

In May, I depart for my 17th consecutive Ligna in Hannover, Germany. If the pandemic hadn’t canceled the event in 2021, I suppose this would have been 18. Regardless, I’m sure by now you’re thinking this guy must be getting up in years.

I know there must be many other Americans who have a longer consecutive Ligna attendance streak than me. But I know of only one—Fred Kurpiel, who is co-chairman with me of the PELICE event held in the off-Ligna year, and who had stints with Siempelkamp and Imeas in addition to his long-ongoing academic and consulting work.

I also know of one person who also will be attending his 17th Ligna in a row—Cole Martin, sales manager at Dieffenbacher. In fact, Cole and I attended our first Ligna in 1989, and we met there when he was a product manager for Küsters and I was headstrong into moving Panel World onto the international stage. I remember the exact moment I met Cole on the Ligna floor, and we discovered we had each graduated from Auburn University— Cole in 1976 and me in 1977.

Ligna was also a first for Coe Manufacturing in 1989. That looks like VP Ralph Gage, who passed away seven years ago.

Looking back, it’s not surprising that I met Cole at Ligna in 1989, because I was making the rounds of all the continuous press manufacturers at the time. Continuous presses were coming on strong in the composite board sector, and Küsters was a continuous press pioneer, and at that Ligna it was emphasizing its new profile control system on its twofold design continuous press.

Siempelkamp made no bones about its priority at Ligna ’89, considering the theme of its display was “Continuous Pressing with Siempelkamp ContiRoll.” At least a dozen were in operation worldwide by then, including several at Louisiana-Pacific facilities in the U.S. A few years earlier, LP kingpin Harry Merlo had said to me of the continuous press, “It’s the thing of the future.”

Speaking of continuous presses, a lot of people at Ligna ’89 were speaking of the Bison Hydro-Dyn continuous press, and in particular about two of them nearing installment in the U.S. at a new particleboard plant in Mt. Jewett, Pa. called Allegheny Particleboard, the brainchild of forest products physicist Volker Stockmann, who almost brought in Weyerhaeuser as his partner, before that fell through, leading to General Electric as a major investor.

But by no means was my first Ligna only about continuous presses. Remember the spindleless veneer lathe? Raute had fine-tuned it enough by then to display and operate a 5 ft. production lathe on the show floor. It drew massive crowds.

I could go on and on, which back then Ligna seemed to do, while the late international sales rep for Panel World, Alan Brett, showed me the ropes. We didn’t have a booth for many Lignas, so we put on a lot of miles, during and after the show. Today, and for many of the previous Lignas, Alan’s son, Murray, and I have worked out of our booth, while Murray’s wife, Liz, has handled the booth duty.

We all hope to see you there.

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The Business At Hand

The Business At Hand

The Business At Hand

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

Some forecasts coming out of APA—The Engineered Wood Association annual meeting in October painted a rather bleak economics picture for 2023. It was no surprise, given the already downward trending in housing starts, the steady upticking in interest rates and the gradual decline in many panel prices toward pre-pandemic levels. Though a couple of attendees mentioned to me that they thought the outlooks came across a little too negatively. “We aren’t there yet,” a producer executive said to me. “We’re doing okay at the moment.”

But barring the unforeseen, 2023 stands to be a challenging year, with some producers weighing production reductions while mill expansions still wrestle with supply chain issues and for that matter decide they aren’t in a hurry anyway.

No doubt many operations are already catching their breath following the tremendous post-pandemic surge. Now it becomes a matter of tweaking and timing.

A soft market is a good time to assess how the operation and mill fared through the hard run during the up market. Certainly through good times or bad most operations have systems and programming, and human beings, in place to provide immediate data feedback, but there’s nothing like a deliberate analysis, the results of which can range from everything to the need for a piece of equipment, to updating systems, to adding QC personnel, to simply a new paint job.

As you take a deep breath is also a good time to analyze where your company or operation is culturally. Running flat out 24 hours a day can push cultural principles (except for safety we would hope) to the side, though ideally the perfect operation is one that can blend seamlessly full production and the cultural personality, or mission statement, you’ve defined for it.

Did your operation’s cultural goals or principles live up to themselves during the production boom? If not, what do you need to do to solidify or enhance them? While your mill is not pushing production is a perfect opportunity to refurbish your cultural identity, perhaps even reevaluate it and establish new parameters for it; or, if you haven’t already done so, start from scratch to being to implement a cultural spirit.

Before we know it, we assume anyway, the building products markets will rebound and the industry will be producing at Indy 500 speed once again; so now is the time to get everything in order in time to make the green flag and to be able to coast through the yellow flags and to be satisfied with how you’ve performed come the next checkered flag.

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. . . And Back In The U.S.

Panel Industry Moves Ahead

Panel Industry Moves Ahead

Article by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Panel World November 2022

As I glanced through the pages of the six issues of Panel World in 2022, various news developments refreshed my memory, but underlying it all was just the fact that business for the most part was conducted as usual. That we were back to at least fairly normal hit home at the biennial PELICE in March in Atlanta, where the crowd was obviously enthusiastic to be back in the mainstream. Other events throughout the year proved it as well—from annual meetings to trade shows, and also because our editors were being welcomed back into the mills to work up articles. During the pandemic, we pieced together one article “virtually,” but it wasn’t nearly as good and detailed as doing it on site.

Here are some news items from 2022, in case you forgot:

One Sky Forest Products said it would locate a new OSB plant in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

A middle market private equity firm, One Equity Partners, purchased USNR.

—Several wood-based panel industry veterans came out against paperboard wall sheathing and its potential dangers during major storms.

—West Fraser purchased the idled OSB plant in Allendale, SC from Georgia- Pacific.

—GP announced plans to expand production capacity at its OSB plant in Alcolu, SC.

—Huber submitted a revised Environmental Assessment Worksheet to the city of Cohasset, Minn. regarding its proposed OSB plant.

—One Equity Partners equity firm purchased Oregon-based Rosboro.

—Tor Gustavsen, former managing director of Argos Solutions, died at 60.

—Eight keynote speakers, more than 50 presenters, 100 exhibitors and 450 participants made the eighth Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference & Expo in Atlanta one of the best ever.

Freres Lumber of Lyons, Ore. changed its name to Freres Engineered Wood as part of its centennial celebration.

Boise Cascade acquired Coastal Plywood and its plywood mills at Havana, Fla. and Chapman, Ala. for $512 million.

—A Quebec-based forestry family— the Cossette family—said it is investing $180 million to restart the OSB plant at Wawa, Ontario.

—Scotch Plywood started producing veneer at its new facility in Waynesboro, Miss., after a fire had destroyed the existing one in early 2021.

Raute named Mika Saariaho as president and CEO.

—LP converted its mill in Houlton, Maine to siding production.

Pacific Woodtech acquired LP’s EWP division and three LVL/I-joist manufacturing facilities for $210 million.

George Weyerhaeuser Sr., former president and CEO of Weyerhaeuser and great-grandson of the founder, died at 95.

—Collins named Tom Insko as president & CEO, succeeding retiring Eric Schooler.

SmartLam announced plans to build a glulam facility in Dothan, Ala. to supply the mass timber industry.

—Siempelkamp named a new CEO and CFO, Martin Scherrer and Martin Sieringhaus, respectively.

—Construction continued at Martco’s new OSB plant in Corrigan, Texas, which will be the company’s second OSB mill at that site.

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Newsletter

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

Subscribe/Renew

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.

Advertise

Complete the online form so we can direct you to the appropriate Sales Representative. Contact us today!

. . . And Back In The U.S.

The Show(s) Must Go On!

The Show(s) Must Go On!

Article by Rich Donnell, Editor-in-Chief, Panel World September 2022

If you think the pandemic caused the death of live trade shows, think again. Just take one quick browse through the Panel World September 2022 issue. In fact, trade shows almost snowballed us over this month.

One of the advertisement selling points of any issue is when that issue will be distributed at an upcoming show. Well, how about three shows, and it could have been more.

When I looked at our media planner some weeks ago it struck me that our ad sales reps were selling the September issue on its distribution at the IWF show in Atlanta, August 22-25; the Timber Processing & Energy Expo in Portland, September 28-30; and the Xylexpo exhibition in Milan, Italy, October 12-15.

Which means we had to be ready to receive press releases from any numbers of companies who are advertising in this issue and also exhibiting at any of those shows. As it turned out, the influx of copy for the IWF and TP&EE shows was significant enough that we created special preview sections. We also received a release or two pertaining to Xylexpo.

The issue was also to have been distributed at the Lesdrevmash event in Moscow, September 12-15, but we decided not to fight through those channels, and who knows if we will ever venture that way again.

But as much as we want to complain about the work load brought on by tons of incoming copy, are you kidding me? Talk about a good problem to have. Think back to two years ago. Silence. Virtual. Boring.

A couple of important points about the TP&EE show in Portland:

As noted in the preview story on page 44, while the Portland machinery show has always been heavier-tilted toward the sawmill industry, and still is, it maintains a significant panel industry presence, by way of multiple exhibitors who partake of that industry. Check out the preview section beginning on page 50 and you’ll see what I mean. These companies will be showcasing and discussing some important technologies and services during TP&EE.

I would suggest, if you work with a panel producer company, that your company consider sending a few folks to Portland. And not only to see what might be new, but to simply get out and talk with other people, in whatever facet of wood products they may be, and enjoy some time away from the mill or office.

Another point about Portland is that it will have a mini-conference entitled, “From Forest to Frame: Mass Timber Developments,” on one day and an optional Mass Timber Tour on the next day.

We realize and appreciate the Mass Timber Conference that is held every spring in Portland. The organizers have done a great job with that event. We view our mini-conference as kind of an in-betweener that serves to educate some people who attend TP&EE and may not be all that in-tune with mass timber developments or the potential of mass timber markets.

Did I mention that this issue will also be distributed at the annual APA—The Engineered Wood Assn. meeting October 15-18 in Miami? See what I mean?

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

Subscribe/Renew

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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Complete the online form so we can direct you to the appropriate Sales Representative. Contact us today!