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Dothan lands glulam and wood pellet investments

Dothan lands glulam and wood pellet investments
In a joint ceremony held on September 9, 2022, in Dothan, AL, SmartLam North America, and Peak Renewables, both Brian Fehr Group companies, announced a combined US$92 million Dothan investment. Veronica Crock (centre), Senior Project Manager, Alabama Department of Commerce presenting the Alabama State Seal plaque to Scott Bax (left), CEO of Peak Renewables (photo courtesy Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce).

In the United States (US), the City of Dothan in Alabama (AL) has landed US$92 million worth of new forest industry investment including a glulam manufacturing facility and a wood pellet plant.

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SmartLam NA Enterprises US, LLC (SmartLam North America), a Brian Fehr Group company, announced that it will build a US$50 million glue laminated timber (glulam) manufacturing facility in Dothan.

The new SmartLam facility will produce 84 million board feet of large glulam beams and columns that are required to properly serve the mass timber market.

SmartLam has chosen to partner with Ledinek to build a turnkey, state-of-the-art glulam facility.

The new glulam facility will be 100 percent operational in October of 2024.

We are pleased to announce the new state-of-the-art custom glulam manufacturing plant which will be the largest custom glulam plant in North America, said Derek Ratchford, CEO of SmartLam North America.

Upgrade existing facilities

According to Smartlam North America, Dothan is strategically located in Alabama to serve the Southeast, the fastest-growing mass timber market in the US.

The forest products industry has long been a central pillar of Alabama’s economy, and its vitality is attracting significant levels of new investment and driving job growth across the state, said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

SmartLam North America has 1.5 billion board feet of available southern pine lumber annually between its four southern sawmill shareholders.

Most mass timber glulam beams and columns are manually produced. The new glulam plant will be automated allowing SmartLam to significantly increase production and simultaneously deliver multiple mass timber projects, Derek Ratchford said.

The SmartLam NorthAmerica facility in Dothan, Alabama is the first manufacturer to offer Southern Yellow Pine CLT products in the US (photo courtesy SmartLam North America).

The company will also spend an additional US$24 million to fully automate its two existing cross-laminated timber (CLT) facilities located in Columbia Falls, Montana (MT), and Dothan, AL respectively.

This additional investment will allow each facility to produce 2 million cubic feet annually.

We are currently the largest CLT manufacturer in North America and with the CLT automation upgrades and the new glulam addition, SmartLam will become the largest mass timber producer in North America, Derek Ratchford added.

Peak Renewables to build pellet plant

In tandem, Peak Renewables Ltd, also a Brian Fehr Group firm, announced that it would invest US$30 million in a wood pellet production facility in Dothan.

The plant will utilize sawmill residuals and is expected to generate 26 jobs at the facility which could open already in 2023.

This facility and the investment will further strengthen the overall forestry economy and bring a world-class wood fiber operating facility to the Dothan area, producing 180 000 metric tonnes of wood pellets annually, Scott Bax, CEO of Peak Renewables said.

The pellet plant will be a 24/7, 365-day operation, and the project includes new rail spurs in collaboration with Genessee and Wyoming Railroad.

Local infrastructure support

Commenting on the joint announcements, the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce said the combined projects represent one of the largest industrial investments in the history of Southeast Alabama’s Wiregrass region.

There are a lot of moving parts to support these developments, and we cannot thank our state, city, county, and Chamber team enough for their work and support. We have a lot of infrastructure support needed to ready these developments for their operations to meet Peak Renewables and SmartLam’s needs, so we will be on it, said Brad Kimbro Chamber Chairman.

The project will involve the construction of a new industrial access road, as well as water and electric utility improvements. Through partnerships with the Alabama Department of Transportation, Houston County, and the City of Dothan, a new access road will be built to serve the new industrial sites.

In addition, Dothan Utilities will provide water extensions and electric utility services.

Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba and Houston County Chairman-Elect Brandon Shoupe said the projects will enhance the area’s forestry industry and generate additional jobs through economic ripple effects.

We are proud and very appreciative of our partnership with SmartLam North America and welcome our new corporate partner Peak Renewables. Both companies represent a significant impact to continue the building and development of Southeast Alabama as a center for excellence for forestry product manufacturing and innovation, they said in a joint statement.

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