Suwannee Lumber and Caddo River Forest sold to Conifex Timber
July 10, 2018 | 10:31 am CDT
NEW YORK - Blue Wolf Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, announced the completion of the sale of Suwannee Lumber Co. and Caddo River Forest Products to Conifex Timber Inc., a publicly-traded British Columbia-based lumber and forestry company. A portion of Blue Wolf’s proceeds will be in the form of Conifex stock, and Blue Wolf will receive representation on Conifex’s board.
“The progress at Caddo and Suwannee has been a big positive in Glenwood, Arkansas and Dixie County, Florida. It has validated Blue Wolf’s approach to solving complex challenges, strengthening businesses, and delivering value to its investors,” said Charles Miller, Partner at Blue Wolf. “I’m proud to say that, under Blue Wolf’s leadership, both Suwannee and Caddo have been transformed into companies with a very bright future, and I look forward to continuing our work together.”
“We have been impressed by the dedicated employees at Suwannee and Caddo who have played a critical role helping both businesses achieve success,” said Ken Shields, President and CEO at Conifex. “We are pleased to welcome Suwannee and Caddo into the Conifex family, and we look forward to helping both businesses grow in the years to come.”
With the transaction closed, Charles Miller of Blue Wolf and George Judd, Strategic Advisor to Blue Wolf, have joined the Conifex Board of Directors.
In 2013, an affiliate of Blue Wolf acquired a majority stake in Suwannee, which is based in Dixie County, Florida – the least populated and lowest income county in the state. A family run business struggling in the wake of the Great Recession, Suwannee had faced a variety of challenges and had been struggling to find a suitable buyer. That’s when Blue Wolf invested in the company, modernizing the facility, remediating the long-standing environmental challenges, and providing new health benefits and an on-site medical clinic for employees. While other investors were dissuaded by environmental liabilities and inherent cyclicality, Blue Wolf saw an opportunity for capital investment to address the shortcomings and build a stronger business.
Following the transformation of Suwannee Lumber Company, an affiliate of Blue Wolf acquired a controlling interest in Caddo River Forest Products, a shuttered mill in Glenwood, Arkansas. The financial crisis had caused Caddo, which employed hundreds of residents in a town of just 2,500 people, to close in 2011. The town relied on the mill as an economic driver, and when Caddo shut down, the Glenwood area and the local supply chain felt the negative effects. In 2017, Blue Wolf approached town leaders and consulted with public officials before deciding to make an investment. Within six months, Caddo reopened – a significant moment for the town – and after Blue Wolf upgraded the sawmill’s equipment and improved its infrastructure, the company quickly became profitable. Production increased, over one hundred people were hired, and hundreds more indirect jobs were created in the town and the supply chain.
Conifex and its subsidiaries' primary business currently includes timber harvesting, reforestation, forest management, sawmilling logs into lumber and wood chips, and value added lumber finishing and distribution. Conifex's lumber products are sold in the United States, Chinese, Canadian and Japanese markets. Conifex has expanded its operations to include bioenergy production following the commencement of commercial operations of its power generation facility at Mackenzie, British Columbia.
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