Anthony Timberlands Inc., one of the largest private companies in Arkansas, announced Wednesday the addition of second shifts in three departments at the flagship plant in Bearden.
The addition of the shifts on Feb. 4 will require hiring about 65 new employees. In an interview with Arkansas Business in November, President Steven M. Anthony said additional shifts were being planned.
"This is not so much in anticipation of good markets in 2013 as it is an effort to achieve economies of scale at a large, modern mill with access to plentiful, affordable raw material," Anthony said at the time.
The shifts will be added to the planer, green sorting and small log processing departments, and the result will be an increase of some 70 percent in production of finished lumber production to an annual level of 175 million board feet, according to the official announcement.
In the written release, Anthony explained the business decision in some detail:
"In 2006, we constructed a new $10 million planer mill, the final step in a decade long modernization and expansion project designed to ensure the long term viability of the Bearden plant. We were only able to operate the mill in its new configuration for one year before the collapse of the domestic housing market required dramatic curtailment in pine lumber production.
"When the market collapsed, our raw material (standing timber and delivered logs) cost remained high for a period of years, making efficient multi-shift operation impossible. Recently, with the loss of significant industry production capacity and a back log of unharvested timber, the price of standing timber and delivered logs has eased considerably, allowing the Bearden mill to return to multi-shift operation and enjoy the economies of scale which are among its greatest strengths. Recent advances in the pine lumber market are an added benefit, but not necessary to support continued multi-shift operation."
Anthony Timberlands also operates a pine sawmill in Malvern, a hardwood sawmill in Beirne in Clark County and manages a lumber treating plant in Hope, a hardwood laminating and timber mat manufacturing facility in Sheridan and 150,000 acres of timberland across south-central Arkansas.
Wednesday's announcement brings total employment to more than 600. The announcement also said Anthony Timberlands' annual sales were more than $150 million, which suggests that 2012 saw a sales increase from 2011, when the company reported $144.3 million in revenue. It was No. 54 on Arkansas Business' annual list of the state's largest private companies ranked by 2011 revenue.