HOULTON – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine applauded an announcement Tuesday by LP Building Solutions, a Tennessee-based manufacturer of engineered wood building products, that it will invest approximately $150 million to convert part of its LP Houlton mill in New Limerick to manufacture SmartSide, an advanced engineered wood strand siding.
“This announcement is great news for loggers and their communities in northern Maine as they look to move forward after the toughest year they have experienced in living memory,” Dana Doran, Executive Director of the PLC, said. “LP’s willingness to invest in the future of Maine’s forest economy and continue to provide a market for Maine wood is a hopeful sign for the logging industry. More than anything else, Maine loggers need markets, and those markets have suffered greatly in the last 12 months.”
LP buys poplar roundwood and some other hardwood for its siding, and the investment in SmartSide manufacturing capacity is expected to increase the company’s consumption of local and sustainably sourced fiber by an estimated 30 percent.
Maine’s timber harvesters and haulers were hit hard in 2020: Most Maine logging contractors who are members of the PLC, the state’s trade association for timber harvesters and haulers, have reported a 30-40 percent reduction in wood markets over the past year. Many are suffering severe revenue losses, layoffs, loss of clients, reduced productivity, and inability to plan for the future.
The unprecedented crisis is due to economic effects of the ongoing pandemic and the loss of the Pixelle Specialty Solutions pulp mill in Jay to an explosion in April – which hit logging companies closer to Jay the hardest, but impacted even northern Maine as the collapse of the pulp market further south spilled over to affect pulp prices and demand statewide.
Maine’s loggers are a vital part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $7.7 billion annually.
The logging industry contributed an estimated $619 million to the Maine economy in 2017, supported more than 9,000 jobs directly or indirectly, generated $342 million in labor income, and pumped an estimated $25 million into state and local tax coffers.
Founded in 1995 with a handful of members who were concerned about the future of the industry, the PLC has grown steadily to become a statewide trade association which provides independent logging contractors and truckers a voice in the rapidly changing forest products industry. Board membership consists of only loggers, making it an organization that is run by loggers on behalf of loggers.
Learn more about the PLC at www.maineloggers.com.