SmartLam and Peak Renewables announce symbiotic $92 million relationship
September 12, 2022 | 1:16 pm CDT
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Economic development projects involving an engineered wood products company and a Canadian wood pellet manufacturer will lead to a combined $92 million investment and 70 new jobs in Houston County, Alabama.

SmartLam North America’s Dothan Division plans to construct a new production facility on Hodgesville Road in order to manufacture large glulam beams and columns. The facility is expected to run  $62 million.

In addition, Canadian-based Peak Renewables will construct a new wood pellet production facility on 30 acres behind the SmartLam facility, utilizing sawmill residuals to produce the wood pellets it markets for renewable power generation.

“The mass timber industry is in its infancy,” said Derek Ratchford, SmartLam’s chief executive officer. “It has just started. It is going through accelerated tremendous growth; therefore, that’s why we’re here today to announce what we’re doing.”

Glulam, or glued laminated timber, engineered wood products are used for large high-strength beams, headers and columns. SmartLam’s new automated glulam facility will allow the company to increase production and purchase additional high-strength fiber from private landowners throughout central and southern Alabama.

“If we as the Wiregrass, if we as Southeast Alabama want to continue to make noise in this part of the world, it takes all of us working together,” said Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba.

The new Dothan facility will make SmartLam the largest mass timber producer in North America, Ratchford said. The new facility, expected to be fully operational in October 2024, will have the capacity to produce 84 million board feet annually when it reaches full production.

The SmartLam North America facility in Dothan was the first to offer cross-laminated timber (CLT) products manufactured from Southern yellow pine, according to the company. Designed to be lightweight and strong, CLT products are used in construction for structural floor, roof, and wall systems.

“We utilize residuals from that amazing resource known as Southern pine, and this facility fundamentally strengthens the forest sector, providing that sustainability and growth that’s needed, not for years, but for generations to come,” said Bax.

Using residual wood fiber from Rex Lumber sawmills, Peak will ultimately be able to produce 180,000 metric tons of wood pellets each year at the Dothan facility. Construction on the wood pellet facility will be completed by mid-2023.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).