International Beams, a producer of engineered wood products, announced this week that it will invest nearly $20 million to open a manufacturing facility near Dothan to produce innovative timber panels and beams using Southern Pine lumber.
IB said its project will create 60 full-time jobs on a two-shift operation, with the possibility that figure could rise by 25 positions over a five-year period. Anticipated capital investment in the new facility is $19.6 million.
“Dothan, a city known for its manufacturing and agribusiness industries, is the perfect place to build the expert staff that will grow the engineered wood products market,” IB Chief Executive Bruno Lebel said. “We’re excited about this new venture and look forward to being a driving force for Dothan’s economy.”
IB officials joined Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield and local officials for an announcement about the project Wednesday in Dothan.
“IB’s decision to locate this innovative, technologically advanced manufacturing facility in Dothan sends a clear message to the world that Alabama is an ideal destination for investment and job creation,” Ivey said.
“This project will create good jobs and new opportunities for area residents, and we look forward to helping IB find a sweet home in Alabama,” she added.
IB’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility will be in a 227,000-square-foot existing building south of Dothan in Henry County. It will serve as the production site for two new IB products – cross-laminated timber panels, called CLT, and glue laminated beams, or GLU-LAM.
The company said its Alabama facility will be the first of its kind in the Eastern U.S. and the only one to use Southern Pine as its primary raw material.
Sarasota, Florida-based IB joins an expanding forest products industry in Alabama, which is home to the nation’s second-largest timberland base and an estimated 650 companies employing 25,000 people. Exports of Alabama forest products reached $1.3 billion in 2015.
New investment has been coming into Alabama as well. In 2015, new capital investment by forest-product companies in the state topped $400 million, creating 275 jobs, according to figures by the Alabama Department of Commerce.
That accelerated in 2016, with new capital investment in the sector exceeding $840 million and more than 600 anticipated jobs, according to a Commerce estimate.
“The forest products industry has long been a critical component of Alabama’s economy, and its vitality is attracting significant levels of new investment and driving job growth across the state,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“Thanks to the high-quality products it will be turning out, the new International Beams facility in Dothan will be a great addition to the state’s thriving forest products sector,” he said.
While cross-laminated lumber (CLT) is typically used in commercial construction, the product is gaining popularity among residential builders, IB says. The company says CLT is widely used in multi-level structures across Europe because it outperforms conventional materials.
CLT’s unique layered engineering gives it steel-like strength, and it’s light, easy to assemble, sustainable, fire resistant and cost effective.
The only CLT manufacturers in the U.S. today are in Montana and Oregon, IB says.
The company’s new product will be branded IB X-LAM and is expected to be available next year. The laminated beams, or GLU-LAM, will provide a complementary product line at the new Alabama manufacturing facility.
“This project adds strength and diversity to a strong existing manufacturing base, promotes regional growth and opportunity, and allows individuals to secure good-paying and stable jobs,” Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said. “Our city, and the entire Wiregrass region, is made economically stronger with the addition of International Beams.”
Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver added that the IB project represents “an important and positive economic step forward’’ for the area.
“A strong company with a new technology, combined with the strategic partnership of Auburn University, is a win-win for our region and citizens,” he added. “We look forward to helping IB grow and prosper, and we stand ready to be partners with them every day.”
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.