By Jerry Underwood
Made in Alabama
Gov. Kay Ivey announced that Jasper Lumber Co. and Canada’s Tolko Industries Ltd. have formed a partnership that will expand lumber production at a Walker County facility through a $45 million project creating at least 60 jobs.
The investment will triple capacity at Jasper Lumber’s existing sawmill and create additional activity for its other subsidiary companies, which will operate under the parent company Jasper Forest Products LLC, a Jasper-Tolko Partnership.
Plans call for the construction of new facilities, the installation of new machinery and increased shifts at the mill.
“The venture between Jasper Lumber and Tolko Industries will deliver a significant economic impact in Walker County through new investment and jobs,” Ivey said. “It will also provide a major boost to a key industry sector in the area, setting the stage for growth that can be sustained for years to come.
“This is great news for Jasper and for Alabama.”
State Sen. Greg Reed said the joint venture will deliver a massive economic impact for the northwest Alabama county.
“Wood products serve an important role in the Walker County economy, and this partnership will create a major expansion of the Jasper lumber facility,” Reed said.
Tolko, a family-owned privately held wood products company based in British Columbia, Canada, will hold a 50% stake in Jasper Forest Products through its U.S. subsidiary. Tolko produces a wide variety of wood-based products, including lumber, oriented strand board (OSB), plywood and pellets.
Jasper Lumber, a major industrial employer in Walker County, is also family owned and has manufactured quality Southern pine lumber for more than 30 years.
“This joint venture project is an important part of our company growth, and we’re excited to be investing in this mill with Jasper Lumber Co.,” Tolko CEO Brad Thorlakson said. “This is our third U.S. lumber partnership and supports our product and geographic diversification. We’re pleased to support this facility and enhance its sales, marketing and logistic capabilities to service existing and new customers across North America and abroad.”
Jasper Lumber Chief Operating Officer Roy Beall said the partnership represents a milestone for his company, which has operated in the community for decades.
“We are very excited to be partnering with Tolko, who has a proven track record and a long family history in the lumber manufacturing business. Our new partnership with Tolko will allow us to have a larger presence in the industry and in our local community,” Beall said.
“This partnership with Tolko will allow us to create jobs and expand our capacity from our current 70 million board feet to approximately 200 million. We are looking forward to working with Tolko, our valued customers, and the state and local economic development community,” he added.
Construction at the Jasper sawmill will begin in early 2021.
The Walker County Development Authority, the Jasper Industrial Development Board and the city of Jasper have been working on the project for about a year, securing grants to help expand key utility infrastructure to the project.
“Alabama’s forest products industry has benefited from a long growth spurt tied to new investment, and the Jasper Forest Products partnership is another great example of the industry’s potential,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“This project will not only create jobs in Walker County but also add vitality to the industry in the region.”
Local officials welcomed the new venture.
“The forest products industry has provided jobs for our people for more years than I can recall. It is exciting to learn of the expansion of the Jasper entity and to know the profound economic impact it will have on our community,” Jasper Mayor David O’Mary said.
State Rep. Tim Wadsworth and Walker County Commission Chairman Steve Miller thanked officials with the companies and the Walker County Development Authority, the Jasper Industrial Development Board and the city of Jasper for making the growth project possible.
“The expansion of Jasper Lumber Co. and the creation of new jobs is great news for Walker County,” Wadsworth said. “Further, it is great news for the entire timber industry from landowners, timber owners, the trucking industry and all aspects of the industry.”
“This expansion project is great news for Walker County,” Miller said. “All too often when a deal is brokered, the work that goes on behind the scenes is not fully appreciated.”
The Jasper Lumber expansion will generate many spinoff jobs and create economic activity in Walker County and surrounding areas as a result of the investment.
“It has been a pleasure to assist in helping this come together over the last year as this Jasper business continues its contribution in the wood products industry,” said Terry Gurganus, chairman of the Jasper Industrial Development Board. “We are thankful to the local Jasper Forest Products team for making this happen.”
“Jasper Lumber has long been a major employer and big part of our community,” said David Knight, executive director of the Walker County Development Authority. “Existing industry is the cornerstone of our local economy, and it has been exciting to work with Jasper Lumber and Tolko for the past year on this massive expansion.”