March 2023

Cover: QC Special Section

Quality Control, need we say more? A dozen suppliers weigh in with their latest QC technologies and systems.

Inside This Issue

COVER: Quality Control Special Section

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following companies submitted editorial profiles to complement their advertisements placed in Panel World March 2023.

  • Argos Solutions
  • Baumer
  • Biele Group
  • CMC Texpan
  • Custom Engineering
  • Fagus GreCon
  • Imal-Pal Group
  • Raute
  • Siempelkamp
  • Taihei Machinery
  • USNR
LeBlanc Has Settled In As Leader Of Longtime Closely Held Hunt Forest Products

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since this is the March issue of Panel World, and March means baseball (to some people), what better person to interview than Richie LeBlanc, president and CEO of Louisiana-based Hunt Forest Products, LLC? No, we’re not interviewing him about baseball because his insights into the forest products industry take center stage here.

Emphasis On Customer Support Bodes Well For Dieffenbacher U.S. Operations Moving Forward

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dieffenbacher Customer Support, LLC has completed 10 years of operation in the U.S., and with that in mind Panel World tossed several questions at Bernd Deffland, President & CFO; Colin Folco, Director Modernization; and Rolf Krey, Director After Sales.

  • Tolko Plans High Prairie Rebuild
  • RoyOMartin Plans More Work At Chopin
  • Southern Veneer Upgrades Pendulum
  • Wisewoods Orders Refining System
  • Steves & Sons Orders Door Skin Lines
  • Con-Vey Promotes Goebel To VP
  • Buttner Expands Product Range
  • Dieffenbacher Buys Energy Firm
  • Peak North America Acquires Endurance Equip
  • Daubert Names New Leadership
  • Pacific Woodtech Rebrands As PWT
  • Egger-Lexington Enhances Recycling

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Taking Stock: Heck Of A Commercial Dispute

The temporary closure of Structurlam’s Conway, Ark. cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glulam plant and the apparent severing of the plant’s relationship as a major supplier for Walmart’s new low carbon footprint and energy efficient corporate campus in nearby Bentonville marks yet another growing pain for an industry that’s just getting started realizing its amazing potential.

In 2019 Structurlam announced that the new campus project was to be fed by Structurlam’s new CLT facility that included a $90 million investment to upgrade a former steel mill and convert it to a CLT plant. Structurlam would become the “exclusive supplier of mass timber products” to the new Walmart home office campus, covering 350 acres, two million square feet of floor space and multiple office buildings.

The project moved along, and many were surprised in January this year when Structurlam officials announced the plant would be closing due to a customer contract cancellation, and we can only assume it means Walmart, though Structurlam refers now only to the “customer,” and says there are no plans to enter into a new commercial agreement. Walmart has announced it is still committed to its new HQ project and would be looking at other suppliers.

As to what happened, Structurlam CEO Matthew Karmel refers to it as a “commercial dispute, but we cannot discuss the specifics.” More specifically, according to sources in the CLT industry, the plant may have “overcommitted” to Walmart while dealing with startup issues, and there may have been dispute over product quality or composition. Then again, Structurlam started up and began delivering product in the teeth of the pandemic, experiencing supply chain issues and lumber price increases that weren’t planned for.

Following the 2021 bankruptcy of Katerra and its CLT plant in Spokane, Wash.—which set out to revolutionize the construction industry using pre-fab building and mass timber construction principles but couldn’t get out of its own way—the mass timber industry had re-gained the momentum, and is definitely expanding as designers, engineers and architects learn more about it. A couple of recent developments:

  • Officials with Freres Lumber in Lyons, Ore. report their mass plywood plant is booked out several months of production and is supplying a large 18- story mass timber office building project in California, working with a major commercial builder that recently started a new mass timber building division.
  • CLT producer Smartlam in Dothan, Ala. recently announced an expansion to add a new glulam beam line.

Back to Structurlam, CEO Karmel says the state-of-the-art Conway plant has met the vigorous startup challenges “with flying colors—its cross-laminated timber and glulam production capabilities already exceed its plan objectives and its processes have been validated repeatedly by the APA to exceed U.S. regulatory standards.” And, Karmel adds, Structurlam is in a strong position to resume Conway operations as the rapid growth of mass timber across North America continues to drive demand for manufacturing capacity.

That is, with Walmart out of the way, the Conway facility now has the ability to support new customers with more than 1 million cubic feet annually of mass timber products.

Article by Dan Shell, Senior Editor, Panel World

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