Bearden's Anthony Timberlands Ramps Up Shifts as Housing Improves

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, May. 20, 2013 12:00 am  

Interior of Anthony Timberlands 1.75 million board foot hardwood predryer at Beirne. The predryer accelerates the drying process of high -grade hardwoods and provides a consistent environment. 

He also credited ATI’s bankers, “our financing partners, who really, in the face of some pretty bad numbers, hung in there.” Anthony cited in particular Robert Head, who was CEO of Pulaski Bank & Trust (acquired by IberiaBank Corp. of Lafayette, La., in 2007) and Ross Whipple, CEO of Summit Bank of Arkadelphia.

Anthony said longtime relationships with local and regional bankers had helped ATI emerge from the economic downturn. So would it be accurate to say that local or regional bankers were more responsive?

“Oh, hands down,” he said, laughing. “Bank consolidation has just been a nightmare for us and especially our CFO, Rick Green.”

“We had relationships with a number of local and quasi-regional and regional banks that gradually started merging and becoming targets for national banks. Bank of America, Regions, Chase — they just started gobbling up our financing partners.

“And you look up and you’re dealing with a guy in Charlotte or Birmingham and they don’t care. They don’t care about the back story. They don’t care about the relationship. They just want to see the numbers, and if you post bad numbers for two quarters in a row, they walk in and say, ‘We want to be paid.’”

The support and faith of local and regional banks “were very important to us during this period,” Anthony said.

They may not have realized it, but that support and faith were also important to about 600 workers in south Arkansas, where Anthony Timberlands operates. In January, the company announced that it was adding second shifts to three departments at the Bearden plant, requiring the hiring of about 65 new employees.

Anthony makes it clear that his company is in south Arkansas for the long haul: “We plan to be here as long as we can.”

Anthony Timberlands Timeline

1840s: Addison Anthony moves from Virginia to settle in south Arkansas.

1884: Garland Anthony, Addison’s grandson, is born.

1907: Garland Anthony starts sawmill in Hopeville, near Bearden in Ouachita County.

1910-1940s: Garland and his brothers Frank, Will and Oliver form Anthony Brothers Lumber Co. Frank subsequently moves south and forms Anthony Forest Products Co. Will moves to Murfreesboro, operating sawmills in the area before selling out to Weyerhaeuser Co. The third, Oliver, remains in the area and partners with Garland Anthony in various timberland acquisitions.

1930s-1940s: During the 1930s, Garland Anthony’s business grows into what is at the time believed to be the largest private lumber manufacturer in the world. By the end of the 1940s, many of the small sawmills owned by various family members have closed, but members of the Garland and Oliver Anthony families maintain timberland-owning partnerships that survive today. Also during this time, Garland’s son Ted begins working for the business.

1939: John Ed Anthony, son of Ted and grandson of Garland, is born.
1946-1950s: Ted builds several mills in east Texas, which his father goes on to partner in. Ted Anthony returns to Arkansas in the mid-50s, where for a time he manages Bearden Lumber Co., along with other mills in the area.

1961: Ted Anthony dies unexpectedly at the age of 48. John Ed, the first of the family to attend college, graduates from the University of Arkansas and joins his grandfather Garland back in Bearden to lead the family enterprise.

1966: John Ed Anthony replaces wooden sawmill in Bearden with modern concrete and steel plant.

1974: John Ed Anthony, seeking to expand the company, forms Anthony Timberlands Inc. with the purchase of Hot Spring County Lumber Co., which is now ATI’s Malvern mill, and Saline County Lumber Co. in Benton, which will be destroyed by fire in the late 1970s.

1980s: ATI buys an International Paper hardwood plant at Beirne in Clark County and more land, along with Frizzell Lumber Co. in Gurdon.

1982: Garland Anthony, company founder, dies at the age of 97.

2001: John Ed Anthony inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his success in horse racing under the name Loblolly Stable.

2004: John Ed’s son, Steven, becomes ATI president.

2006: ATI acquires all of Bearden Lumber Co., which had remained in family ownership throughout the period.

2012: John Ed Anthony, now chairman of ATI, is inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, established by Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

2013: Anthony Timberlands Inc., with $162.5 million in revenue in 2012, employs 600, has five wood products manufacturing plants in Arkansas and owns and manages 150,000 acres of timberland across south-central Arkansas. Steve’s son, Addison, has added yet another generation to the business’ history.



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