Lumber company to invest over $100m into economy, provide at least 110 jobs

Published 2:26 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Rex Lumber is coming to Pike County and is bringing with it a guaranteed investment of over $100 million into the local economy and the provision of at least 110 jobs.

The county commission reconvened Wednesday to approve entry into a project agreement with the company, offering $750,000 in incentives including the purchase of a 214-acre property and reimbursement for site preparation.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Robin Sullivan, commission chairman. “The first thing that stuck out in my mind was the immediate impact of the amount they’re willing to spend to build this place.When someone says they want to invest $110 million into our community, I get excited pretty fast. I asked the commission for whatever it took to get this company to come here, let’s do it because we knew how great the economic impact would be for our area.

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The commission began recruiting the company just a few months ago, Sullivan said, under the codename “The Red Fox Project.” Sullivan said the quick turnaround is due to the company’s desire to come in and get started.

“As fast as we want them here, they want to be here faster,” Sullivan said. “They’re on a timeline. We’re going to start cutting timber on this tract of land (Thursday).”

The mill is expected to be ready for business within 18 months.

Marsha Gaylard, president of Pike County Economic Development, said this won’t be an everyday saw mill.

“This will be their state-of-the-art facility,” Gaylard said. “This will be the most highly technological facility that they’ll have. The closest thing to it would be out in California somewhere.”

Not only is the company bringing 110 jobs, Gaylard said the company will be primed for expansion in the future.

“That number (of jobs) is a conservative estimate,” Gaylard said. “That was one of the things in selecting this site is that there is plenty of room for future expansions.”

In addition to the direct capital investment the company has committed to and the number of jobs it must provide, Gaylard said the company’s location in Pike County will be a boon to the timber industry in Pike and surrounding counties.

“One of the reasons that we went after this as hard as we did is because of the benefit it is going to have to anybody in the timber industry in Pike County,” Gaylard said. “It will make a huge difference in what timber workers can get for their timber. They’ve been having to transport it as many as 90 miles away, which has decreased the amount timber workers could get for their timber. It’s going to have a huge impact on Pike County and surrounding counties.”

Gov. Kay Ivey praised the development in a statement Wednesday.

“Rex Lumber’s new Alabama lumber manufacturing facility will not only bring high-quality jobs, but will also create substantial economic benefits for the industry to Pike County,” Gov. Ivey said. “We’re committed to helping this new operation succeed and thrive for years to come.”

Rex Lumber currently operates three sawmills, two in the Florida Panhandle and one in Mississippi, producing a total of 575 million board feet annually. This will be Rex Lumber’s third sawmill expansion in the last 17 years.

Site work at the new Pike County sawmill is scheduled to start on March 15.

“Our fourth-generation family owned business is looking forward to a long and prosperous future in Pike County and the great state of Alabama,” said Caroline McRae Dauzat, one of the company’s owners.

Rex Lumber, founded in the 1920s by W.D. McRae, continues to be owned and operated by the Finley McRae family of Graceville, Florida. The company ranks among the 10 largest softwood lumber producers in the United States.

“This new lumber manufacturing operation will create quality employment opportunities, a significant new timber market, and enhanced economic activity in the region,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Rex Lumber is a proven operator with an excellent track record in the forest products industry, and will be a great addition to Alabama’s business community.”

Pike County was chosen over sites considered in several other Southern states.

“The Pike County Commission is very pleased to join with Governor Kay Ivey, Rep. Alan Booth, Sen. Jimmy Holley and the Pike County Economic Development Corp. in welcoming Rex Lumber to Pike County,” said Robin Sullivan, chairman of the county commission. “We are pleased to be able to work to get business and industry in Pike County that provides quality, competitive-paying jobs in our area that create a better quality of life in our community.

“We look forward to a long working relationship with Rex Lumber as they continue to grow and prosper in Pike County.”