COMING SOON: Rex Lumber Troy manager gives progress update

Published 4:00 am Friday, June 8, 2018

Jared Banta, general manager of Rex Lumber, Troy, LLC., visited the Troy Exchange Club Thursday to tell members about the soon-to-come saw mill.

“The Troy facility went form something we were talking about doing to something we were doing in about six months,” Banta said. “We’re now planning to break ground on July 17.”

Banta said the original plan was to break ground in June, but a contractor delay necessitated that the date be pushed back. However, Banta said he expects to meet the company’s target to be open by June 2019.

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The land has been cleared and is ready for construction, he said.

“If you’ve seen our site on County Road 7714, it was a very nice, beautifully well-manicured forested site,” Banta said. “I feel bad for the hunters we displaced; now it’s the flattest piece of land in Pike County without something on it.”

Banta reminded the members of the company’s commitment in exchange for incentives from the Pike County Commission: 110 direct employment opportunities and an investment of over $100 million into the local economy.

On top of that, Banta talked about the benefits of having a modern saw mill in the area.

“There are a lot of ancillary jobs and support jobs,” Banta said. “The one thing we’re still getting our head around is the number of trucks on the road to support this mill. Loggers in the area are gearing up and getting ready. There’s an opportunity for new logging crews. When we go to two shifts around the beginning of 2020, we should be producing about 5 million board feet a week.”

For perspective, Banta said, a 2×4 is about 5.3 board feet.

Banta said this saw mill may not be what people expects when they think of what an industry of this nature would look like.

“I tell people whatever you imagine, you’re wrong,” Banta said. “It is advanced manufacturing. There is optimization everywhere. We can’t get any extra value out of a piece of wood, we can only extract the value that is there. If we make a bad cut, we’re taking value away. A computer looks at the internal geometry. The only time somebody touches wood in a saw mill is if something is wrong.”

Banta said the company will be producing softwood only, and explained that southern yellow pine is interchangeable with Canadian woods, which he said people sometimes have a misconception about.

Robin Sullivan, chairman of the Pike County Commission, said Rex Lumber is a welcome addition to Pike County.

“When the project was first mentioned to me, I knew we had to do whatever we could to get this project in Pike County,” Sullivan said. “It’s the perfect location.”

One of the mill’s first employs is Alan Jaye of Dothan, who has been hired on as procurement manager for the company. Banta said Jaye will soon be the most popular person in Pike County due to his role in procuring timber.

“Rex Lumber chose Pike County because, by all indications, this is the place to be,” Jaye said. “There’s a lot of timber here and the competitive saw mills are not so close to here.”

The mill is also close enough to the company’s other mill sites to be advantageous, he said.