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Interfor announces $30 million expansion on heels of its Summerville, S.C. sawmill purchase

SOUTH CAROLINA (From news reports) -- Interfor Corp. said Aug. 11 it will spend $30 million to expand its sawmill in Summerville, just months acquiring the facility from WestRock Co.

The expansion, designed to boost production capacity, is scheduled for completion by the end of next year and will "help position the Summerville mill for the future and ensure it remains competitive throughout all market conditions for many years to come," Bruce Luxmoore, Interfor's senior vice president of southern operations, said in a written statement.

Interfor bought the Summerville mill for $59 million in February, when it also announced a long-term chip and biomass supply agreement with WestRock's paper mill in North Charleston. The company did not say whether the expansion will create new jobs at the site.

The Summerville mill produced about 125 million board feet of lumber in 2020 and a new permit will allow Interfor to increase that production to roughly 200 million board feet.

Interfor, based in Vancouver, Canada, had record earnings during the second quarter at $611 million before taxes, depreciation and amortization costs. Richard Pozzebon, the company's chief financial officer, told analysts during an Aug. 6 conference call that the Summerville site "contributed significantly to our second-quarter results."

Barton Bender, Interfor's president and CEO, said demand is being driven by new home construction as well as aging homes needing repair and remodel work.

"From a supply standpoint, we enjoyed having the Summerville mill in our portfolio, which put us in a position to grow with our customers," Bender said during the Aug. 6 call, adding the outlook remains good for the industry.

"We feel the fundamentals continue to support robust lumber markets going forward," he said.

Interfor has 21 sawmills across Canada and the United States, including one in Georgetown. The company has an annual lumber production capacity of approximately 3.9 billion board feet, with more than half of that capacity located in the U.S. South.

Interfor is part of a Palmetto State timber industry that generates $21 billion a year in economic activity.

"The company's expansion is a testament to the abundance of the state's sawtimber inventory, which is at record levels," State Forester Scott Phillips said in a written statement. "It will also enlarge the footprint of forestry in South Carolina."

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