Florida-based Rayonier Advanced Materials (RYAM) had taken over Canadian forestry company Tembec in November 2017, a move that included the Huntsville sawmill. The recent acquisition of the sawmill by HFP brings it back under a majority Canadian ownership.
“When RYAM indicated that it was interested in finding an appropriate long-term owner for the facility, we very quickly expressed interest. My colleagues and I are committed to building a great Canadian hardwood forest products enterprise,” said Haliburton Forest’s managing director Malcolm Cockwell in an email to Huntsville Doppler, also noting that the company is almost 100 per cent Canadian-owned, with a minority shareholder in Germany.
“The sawmill in Huntsville is well-established and has a talented, experienced team. It has good equipment and solid logging contractor relationships. We felt that investing in this facility would not only help us grow, but it would ‘upgrade’ our whole team,” said Cockwell.
In addition to the sawmill, Huntsville Forest Products has also acquired RYAM’s Huntsville forestry division, which supplies the sawmill with logs from the French Severn Forest managed by Westwind Forest Stewardship Inc., Algonquin Forestry Authority, and other Crown forest entities in the region, according to a media release from the company.
“My colleagues and I believe that there are some competitive advantages to growing our hardwood forest products business,” said Cockwell. “There are some obvious efficiencies that businesses usually achieve as they scale—for example, certain overhead costs become spread over a larger enterprise. There are also some unique opportunities—for example, we may be able to specialize each of our sawmills to certain product groups, which will allow each of the three sawmills to be more competitive in their own right. Finally, we believe that the future of the hardwood forest products sector is bright, so we felt confident in taking steps to investing in this facility.”
Haliburton Forest owns two other sawmills: Haliburton Forest Products and Almaguin Forest Products in South River which the company acquired in early 2019. The Huntsville sawmill has an annual production capacity of 30 million FBM (board-feet), which will increase the company’s total capacity to 40 million FBM per year. In addition to lumber, the Huntsville sawmill also produces other hardwood timber products including veneer, sawlogs, firewood, and pulp.
A small amount of its supply will also come from Limberlost Forest, east of Huntsville, which is managed by Cockwell’s brother, Gareth.
“Haliburton Forest and Limberlost Forest work closely on sustainable forest management initiatives,” said Cockwell. “The priority at Limberlost Forest is providing safe and enjoyable access to the environment through its network of hiking trails, but it does conduct some small harvesting operations from time to time. When these small harvests are conducted at Limberlost Forest, we typically direct the sawlogs to one of our three sawmills. So we do expect to procure a portion of our timber from that property, but it will be a small amount in the grand scheme of the Huntsville sawmill.”
The company’s lumber markets are global, but the majority of its products are in Canada and the United States, said Cockwell. With this acquisition, they “will be better able to access global forest products markets with increased scale,” he added.
There are no changes planned to existing contractors, employees, suppliers, customers, or other stakeholders in relation to Huntsville Forest Products. The Haliburton Forest employs about 100 people, 40 of which are in Huntsville.
Haliburton Forest owns and manages 100,000 acres of predominantly hardwood timberland in Haliburton County, where it operates both a tourism and recreation division that provides activities such as dogsledding, snowmobiling, canopy tours, and a wolf centre, as well as a sustainable forest products division focused on hardwood lumber. It was the first company in Canada to be certified to the rigorous standards of the Forest Stewardship Council.
“Whatever we do, we do it with a very long-term focus. The average mature hardwood tree that we harvest is about 120 years old, so our forestry practices are generally thinking 100 to 200 years into the future,” said Cockwell. “In addition to our sawmills and internal forestry program, we offer forest management services to other private landowners through a business called Haliburton Forest Stewardship Services. Folks that own woodlots in central Ontario can give us a call and we will be happy to help them achieve their forest management objectives through the Stewardship Services program.”
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