March 1, 2018 |

By Debra Davis

A new lumber manufacturing facility locating in Pike County will have far-reaching effects for the regional economy bringing 110 new jobs and more money for area timber owners.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Tuesday that Rex Lumber Co. plans to build the state-of-the-art sawmill — $110 million investment, including startup and working capital. Annual production at the facility, located in northeast Pike County, will be a minimum of 240 million board feet.

“Rex Lumber’s new Alabama lumber manufacturing facility will not only bring high-quality jobs but will also create substantial economic benefits for the industry in the Pike County area,” Ivey said. “We’re thrilled that the company selected Alabama for this project, and we’re committed to helping this new operation succeed and thrive for years to come.”

Rex Lumber currently operates three sawmills, two in the Florida Panhandle and one in Mississippi, producing 575 million board feet annually. This is Rex Lumber’s third sawmill expansion in the last 17 years.

Pike County was chosen over sites considered in several other Southern states. Land clearing and other work on the 214-acre site is expected to begin immediately with construction set to begin June 1. Officials are hopeful the mill will open in August 2019.

“The Pike County Commission is very pleased to join with Gov. Ivey, Rep. Alan Booth, Sen. Jimmy Holley and the Pike County Economic Development Corp. in welcoming Rex Lumber to Pike County,” said Pike County Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan. “We’re pleased to be able to work to get business and industry in Pike County that provides quality, competitive-paying jobs in our area that create a better quality of life in our community.”

Pike County Commissioner Russell Johnson is co-owner of Coastal Plain Land and Timber in Pike County. He said the announcement is a new day for forest landowners in east central Alabama.

“I’ve been told that one mill job creates 20 ancillary jobs, from logging and trucking positions to people who sell supplies to those industries, plus fuel, tires, oil and insurance,” Johnson said. “An industry like this has a huge trickle-down effect for Pike and surrounding counties.”

The Alabama Farmers Federation’s William Green said he’s excited Rex Lumber chose Alabama for its new sawmill. He said the sawmill will use renewable natural resources to be sold throughout North America and beyond.

“This announcement, along with other recent forest product expansions in our state, is good news for Alabama’s economy and the forest industry,” said Green, the Federation’s Forestry Division director. “Our state is blessed with good climate and growing conditions for renewable forest products.”

The sawmill will produce Southern yellow pine lumber typically used for construction. Giving landowners a sawmill closer to their property reduces trucking costs, resulting in more money for their timber, Johnson said. Timber used for construction lumber typically fetches a better price than trees used for the pulp paper industry.

“Some landowners, because of the hauling distance to a sawmill, had limited options for selling their timber,” Johnson said. The new mill is expected to need 600 tractor trailer loads of wood a week, he said.

“Our fourth-generation family owned business is looking forward to a long and prosperous future in Pike County and the great state of Alabama,” said Caroline McRae Dauzat, one of the company’s owners.

Rex Lumber, founded in the 1920s by W.D. McRae, is owned and operated by the Finley McRae family of Graceville, Florida. The company ranks among the 10 largest softwood lumber producers in the U.S.

“This new lumber manufacturing operation will create quality employment opportunities, a significant new timber market and enhanced economic activity in the region,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Rex Lumber is a proven operator with an excellent track record in the forest products industry, and will be a great addition to Alabama’s business community.”

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