CAMERON, S.C. - Multi-billion dollar firm Universal Forest Products will invest over $6 million to restructure a vacant facility into a manufacturing plant, creating 120 jobs in South Carolina over the next few years.
 
The facility will act as its own company: UFP Cameron, which will manufacture wood products dedicated to the industrial market. The 75,000-square-foot plant is scheduled to open in late 2018. 
 
Of the investment, $4 million will be spent on the actual facility and the remaining $2 million will go toward machinery. The county has provided the company with a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement. A fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement is a tax incentive counties can provide to attract industrial investment.
 
The $4 billion Universal Forest Products is a public company that employs over 11,000 workers across 130 facilities throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.
 
The company announced record net earnings and net sales for the fourth quarter and full year 2017, even though the latest quarter and year that had one less operational week compared to 2016. (In 2016, that extra week accounted for over $60 million in net sales and over $2 million in operating profit.)
 
Net earnings attributable to controlling interest were $31.1 million, up 50 percent; changes to the corporate tax rate contributed $6.4 million while unit sales accounted for 5 percent of the growth, largely due to the acquisition of retail store interiors giant idX. Price increases accounted for almost 8 percent, as lumber prices rose. In 2017, average prices for framing lumber and southern yellow pine rose 20 percent and 7 percent, respectively, over 2016. But the timing of the rise didn't work in Universal Forest Products favor, says CEO Matthew J. Missad, as prices fell during the peak selling times, reducing margins on certain products.
 
“The employees of Universal did a great job managing our business through a challenging lumber market that pressured margins for our products at different periods throughout the year,” said Missad. 
 
“We experienced terrific growth with new products in 2017, making significant inroads in the retail market with new products such as our UFP-Edge profile lines and several product introductions in our Deckorators line,” Missad said.
 
For the year, new product sales grew 23.5 percent to $418.4 million, compared to $338.6 million in 2016. “Despite the challenges that remain in the lumber market, we are optimistic about our strategic initiatives for 2018 and beyond. To support those initiatives, we are investing a portion of the income we will save from the tax reform bill in capital expenditures.”

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