Times Are Hard In the Woods

by John Henry  on Monday, Dec. 8, 2008 12:00 am  

The Paper Side

On the paper and packaging side of the industry, demand is already down between 5 percent and 10 percent from a year ago, and is expected to decline more next year as the recession continues, according to Standard & Poor's.

U.S. paper and paperboard production dropped 6.5 percent in October from a year ago, according to the latest American Forest & Paper Association statistics. And because paper production is down, pulpwood demand and prices are also down, Forest2Market reports.

That drop in paper and packaging demand has already led companies such as International Paper Co. of Memphis to shut down excess capacity to meet the weaker demand. Last month it closed its mill at Bastrop, La., indefinitely, putting some 550 workers out of a job. IP isn't alone in closing or cutting back production at its facilities and more companies are looking at even deeper cuts or slowdowns in 2009.

The List

The forest products industry is one of the largest in the state, but this year's list of the state's largest companies shows sizeable declines for those in the lumber business and smaller declines for those in the paper business.

Georgia-Pacific LLC of Atlanta continues its reign at the top, employing 3,310 in Arkansas, down about 72 workers from last year. No other company is even half that big.

Moving up to second place this year – not because it has grown so much but because of the declining Arkansas presence of Weyerhaeuser Co. of Federal Way, Wash. – is Evergreen Packaging Group of Memphis, the operator of the former International Paper mill at Pine Bluff. Weyerhaeuser was second last year with 1,150 employees, but this year it has fallen to fourth with 780 workers. The Evergreen mill has 1,200 employees. Evergreen is owned by the Rank Group.

Now in third place is Domtar Corp. of Montreal, with 1,075 workers at its fine paper mill at Ashdown.

Moving up to fifth place is Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. of Springdale, the largest of the companies based in Arkansas, with 600 employees.

Other Arkansas-based companies include Anthony Timberlands Inc. of Bearden with 580 workers; Deltic Timber with 486; Bibler Brothers Inc. of Russellville with 180; Anthony Forest Products Co. of El Dorado with 177; and Maxwell Hardwood Flooring of Monticello with 175.

Some Arkansas-based companies, such as Curt Bean Lumber Co. of Glenwood, The Price Cos. of Monticello and Travis Lumber Co. of Mansfield, may well be larger, but they would not respond to requests for employment numbers.



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