LILLOOET, BC -- The Lillooet veneer plant, reopened after a two year closure and a change in ownership, will take a hiatus as it replenishes its wood supply.

Lillooet and a sister plant, Savona, which makes plywood, were acquired by Aspen Group from Ainsworth Engineered in December 2010. The plants are among 25 wood products mills that the British Columbia government says have reactivated in the past 18 months.

Initial production resumed in January 2011, after the Aspen Group acquisition. Savona received its first load of veneer strips from Lillooet on April 12, reconnecting a supply chain that had been inactive for about 18 months.

The Savona facility specializes in overlay plywood products, mainly for concrete forms, as well as paintable panels for highway signs. Savona's overlay plywood is also used in countertops, fences, garage doors, storage racks and bins, displays shelves and assembly benches.

Ainsworth closed the Savona operation in 2009 because of the global economic downturn and reduced demand from the United States, as it shifted focus to production of oriented strand board.

According to Merritt News, the plants were shut down May 11 after operating for one month because it had run out of logs. The company's mill manager told the newspaper that the shutdown expected to potentially last through June was a seasonal phenomenon requiring the Lillooet plant and its sister specialty plywood plant in Savona, BC, to replenish its log supply.

A week before the shut down, Aspen Partners hosted a celebration of the wood products mills' reopening.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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