Roaring back to life

Published 3:22 pm Thursday, June 20, 2013

The former IP sawmill will soon be up and running under its new owners Franklin Lumber LLC. -- Submitted

The former IP sawmill will soon be up and running under its new owners Franklin Lumber LLC. — Submitted

Historic Sawmill to reopen under new ownership

The historic sawmill founded in 1887 by the Camp Family will soon be up and running again. -- Tony Clark | Tidewater News

The historic sawmill founded in 1887 by the Camp Family will soon be up and running again. — Tony Clark | Tidewater News

ISLE OF WIGHT—Franklin Lumber, LLC is reopening the sawmill at International Paper. Governor Bob McDonnell’s office made the announcement yesterday afternoon that the former IP sawmill, closed since 2009, was purchased by the new company started by former sawmill employees Terry Godwin and Perk Taylor.

Franklin Lumber is expected to create 72 jobs when the facility reopens, with the possibility of more in the future if a second shift is added and if market conditions allow. Operations are expected to begin at the end of this year.

Owners Taylor and Godwin stated that they both have worked in the sawmill and in the lumber and forest industry around the area for years.

“The mill will start out running one shift and producing 60 million board feet of southern yellow pine annually,” they noted.

Both maintained the sawmill will “produce dimensional lumber for the retail, treating and truss manufactures as well as timbers for industrial uses and other specialty products.”

CEO Perk Taylor said, “We will need about four to five months to repair the mill and install some equipment upgrades. We will get the mill up and running on one shift and move to two shifts when we feel the time is right.”

Along with the 72 initial employees to be hired, Taylor noted that in order to serve the mill’s need for supplies and outsourced services, additional job creation in the region is also likely.

The Governor’s office maintained that Franklin Lumber plans to make $14.8 million in new capital investments to the facility over the next several years to increase capacity and competitiveness.

“Upgrades in the mill will allow the sawmill to purchase and area loggers to deliver both large and small sawtimber. We believe the changes we are making in the mill, which will allow us to cut all sizes of logs will be a benefit to area loggers and landowners. Currently, there is not a lot of competition for these logs,” said Terry Godwin, procurement manager. Godwin added, “We are also excited about purchasing certified logs that will allow us to produce Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and American Tree Farm program certified lumber.”

Mill Manager Carl Buck said, “This mill was originally designed to have the capability of manufacturing a variety of lumber products. We plan to take advantage of this by manufacturing a diverse product line that will satisfy a wide range of customers. Our focus is on quality.” Buck will serve as the mill manager and play an active role in the capital equipment upgrades.

The Camp Family started a sawmill on the site in 1887. Camp Manufacturing Company was founded by three local Camp brothers Paul Douglas Camp, James Camp, and Robert Camp. There is tremendous history with this sawmill, the Camp family, and the Franklin community.

“Union Camp had a tradition of commitment to quality lumber manufacturing and Franklin Lumber intends to continue to honor the tradition,” said Perk Taylor.

“The cooperative arrangement between International Paper and Franklin Lumber is a win-win situation and a great fit for the Franklin Mill and the community, said Franklin mill Operations Manager Jeff Stevens.

“This truly is a great utilization of mill assets. We are very pleased to have re-purposed another portion of International Paper property and look forward to welcoming our new neighbors,” Stevens added.

“We look forward to our partnership with International Paper. They know how important the sawmill is to the community and have worked hard to bring this to fruition. We can’t thank them enough for all of their help,” said Carl Buck.

The Governor’s office said Franklin Lumber will also have a strong market for its residual products, including IP, which will purchase wood chips for its recently re-opened fluff mill.  More than 40% of Franklin Lumber’s annual purchases of logs, estimated at almost 300,000 tons, will be sourced from Virginia.  Total wood receipts paid to area loggers and landowners likely will exceed $10 million on an annual basis.

“In addition to the 72 new jobs and new investments, the reopening of the mill will create important new opportunities for loggers and landowners in southeastern Virginia, who have the opportunity to benefit from a new purchaser of forest resources,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.  “With the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, and its Virginia-grown component driving purchases of the Commonwealth’s high quality agricultural and forestry products, having been in place now for almost one year, projects such as this one highlight the economic development gains that can be made while building on two of Virginia’s largest industries.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and Isle of Wight County to help make the project a reality. Governor McDonnell approved a $150,000 matching grant from the Governor’s AFID Fund to assist Isle of Wight County with the project. The project is receiving additional assistance through the State’s Enterprise Zone Program and through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program; the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment, training and retraining activities.

“The Board is excited about the opportunities ahead for the local forestry industry in the County as well as regionally,” said JoAnn West Hall, chairman, Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors.  “We are pleased to see a local team of experienced, former IP employees partnering to bring this exciting new project to fruition. With the opening of Franklin Lumber, we will once again have more options for our local forest landowners and loggers right here in our community. We are pleased to have this business in our community and look forward to a long working relationship for many years to come.”

Speaking about yesterday’s announcement, Governor McDonnell said, “Over the last three and a half years, our administration’s focus has been on creating jobs and new economic opportunities for citizens throughout the Commonwealth, with an approach that fully incorporates all of Virginia’s numerous and diverse economic sectors, including our two largest industries of agriculture and forestry. The forestry industry has long been among the top economic drivers for Virginia in general and this region in particular.  Accordingly, I am pleased to see this sector continuing to gain strength, right along with the rest of Virginia’s economy, as a result of our focused and strategic efforts.”

International Paper announced in 2010 plans to repurpose the paper mill. Those efforts have created more than 400 jobs between the three companies operating at the complex — International Paper, ST Tissue and now Franklin Lumber. The latter two are independent companies leasing space from International Paper.

Franklin Lumber can be contacted at There will be no applications accepted at the sawmill. Applicants may apply at the Paul D. Camp Workforce Development Center beginning August 30, 2013.