COOK- Trends in demand for siding have officials at LP Building Solutions eyeing the need for additional production capacity by 2022, but no decisions have been made about whether the shuttered Cook …
COOK- Trends in demand for siding have officials at LP Building Solutions eyeing the need for additional production capacity by 2022, but no decisions have been made about whether the shuttered Cook mill that Louisiana-Pacific, or LP, purchased in 2016 will be part of the answer.
LP senior manager of corporate communications Breeanna Straessle responded last week to an inquiry by the Timberjay by indicating that if the company’s current assumptions hold, the need for increased production is coming.
“Given our current siding volume growth and mix assumptions, we expect to need additional siding capacity in late 2022,” Straessle said. “If so, a public announcement about the location would likely be shared at the end of this year or early the following year.” However, opening the Cook mill is just one possibility among many.
“We are currently evaluating locations, with several options under consideration,” Straessle said. It’s a story line familiar to those who originally hoped the Cook facility would re-open within two years of its purchase by LP, which acquired another plant in Val d’Or, Quebec, at the same time. As reported in the Timberjay, decisions about which facility would be developed first were anticipated in February and April of 2017, according to comments made by former LP CEO Curt Stevens. However, in August 2017, the company instead decided to convert an existing plant in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to produce siding.
Comments in an LP investors conference call in February 2019 suggested a decision could be made by the end of last year, but that date has again been pushed back. Under new CEO Brad Southern, the company’s efforts have primarily been focused on fine-tuning its existing production capacity and product mix. Poor market conditions caused LP to close down production of oriented strand board production at its Peace Valley mill in Fort St. John, British Columbia, in August.
Conversely, LP made acquisitions in Green Bay, Wis., and Granite City, Ill., last year to quickly bring to market a new line of SmartSide prefinished siding and trim. A June 2019 company press release projected significant growth in prefinished siding over the next five years.
Cook and the area economy took a big hit when the Ainsworth-operated mill closed 12 years ago and would get a big boost should LP reopen the facility in the next two or three years. Initial projections in 2016 were that the mill would employ about 150 people. But as of now, the waiting game continues.