Canadian wood products company Canfor is opening its U.S. headquarters in Mobile. The U.S. branch will operate under the name Canfor Southern Pine, said Fred Stimpson, Canfor Southern Pine president.
The move will bring 20 jobs to Mobile, said Troy Wayman, vice president of economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. Twenty-five employees working with Scotch Gulf Lumber will remain in Mobile.
The headquarters will be on three floors of the Van Antwerp building in downtown, Stimpson said. It is an early 20th century building owned by Retirement Systems of Alabama.
The company’s office in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will remain open, Stimpson said. The company is not closing or relocating offices and no employees will be forced to move to Mobile, he said
“Myrtle Beach will continue to be a very important administrative hub for the four mills in the Carolinas,” Stimpson said.
Canfor Southern Pine consists of 11 saw mills, four secondary manufacturing plants and a trucking company, Stimpson said. It has 1,900 employees, 350 of which are in Alabama. Most of its timber comes from landowners within 75 miles of the mills. The Alabama mills also buy timber from the U.S. Forest Service.
The company operates Alabama mills in Mobile, Jackson and Fulton. All three were part of Scotch Gulf Lumber.
Canfor Southern Pine has grown significantly during the past 10 years. Stimpson joined the company when it acquired Scotch Gulf Lumber in a “staged purchase” that began three years ago. Canfor acquired four companies in the southern U.S. in 2015.
“We evolved from several privately owned sawmilling companies,” Stimpson said. “We consolidated under the name Canfor Southern Pine. We’re very busy consolidating and integrating our company. You can imagine it is challenging to combine all of those different cultures. It’s very important to get this integration right.”
With mills from Arkansas to the Carolinas, Mobile is centrally located to Canfor Southern Pine’s operations, Stimpson said.
The 20 new jobs in Mobile will be executive level and support staff, Wayman said. Chamber officials worked with Canfor for about six months to bring the corporate headquarters in as part of the economic strategy for Mobile.
“Corporate headquarters are always on our radar because of the kind of jobs they bring,” Wayman said.
Stimpson said Canfor could expand in Alabama but nothing is “waiting in the wings.” “Anytime you have that corporate headquarters, you have to think you’ll get a look for any other investment,” Wayman said.
Canfor’s website lists 39 manufacturing facilities in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia. It has eight corporate offices.
The company product lines include lumber, pulp, paper and wood pellets used to produce energy. Halfway through 2016, Canfor reported more than $2 billion in sales (in Canadian dollars). In 2015, it reported more than $3.9 billion in sales.