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RoyOMartin’s Alabama Mill, One of the State’s Largest, Undergoing Expansion
RoyOMartin – one of Alabama’s largest mills undergoes an expansion, adding new drying capabilities. The company’s expecting an increase in production by 30 million board feet per year.

By Maya L. Brewer
Date Posted: 7/1/2010

MEXIA, Alabama—RoyOMartin–Rocky Creek Lumber is undergoing a drying-capacity expansion, with expected completion for August 2010. In an effort to increase quality and productivity, the mill is adding a continuous kiln, rebuilt by American Wood Dryers and fired by a Hurst Boiler bark burner, to its three pre-existing USNR direct fired gas kilns. Additionally, two MEC bins will be used to store and meter the bark fuel, which the company recycles on site. A new 300 HP, 36x36 Kimwood bark hog has been added to deliver the quality and quantity of the bark required to fuel the burner.

            “Consistent with other RoyOMartin plants, this expansion is proactive in growing the business and keeping the mill on the cutting edge of technology,” stated Bert Campbell, RoyOMartin-Rocky Creek Sales Manager. “Our relationship with the pallet industry dates back to our former hardwood sawmill operations in Louisiana, and we realize how important heat-treatment certification is to the pallet industry. This expansion will enable us to serve the industry more effectively.”   

            RoyOMartin-Rocky Creek serves as one of Alabama’s leading southern pine sawmill companies, offering a variety of timber products to the residential, industrial, and pallet industries across the state, nationwide, and internationally. According to Campbell, 75% of the mill’s production goes toward supplying treated lumber for residential applications such as fencing and framing. Ten percent of their business is for industrial usage, for crating and framing-type applications, and 15% of their business is to the pallet industry.

            “Even though just 15% of our product is supplied to the pallet industry, that’s a pretty significant amount because of the volume our mill produces,” stated Campbell.

            Created in 2000 with the concept of using southern pine logs to manufacture small timber construction, RoyOMartin acquired the operation in March 2006. The product line is primarily timbers - 4x6, 5x5, and 6x6, with lengths up to 20 feet. Additional products include 4x4 lengths up to 16 ft., 3x4 to 10 ft., and 2x4 and 2x6 up to 12 ft. Products are available S4S, S2S, or rough. Certain products, such as the 3x4, may be precision-end trimmed for special applications. Timber length, grade, and customer preference determine whether the product is used for the residential, industrial, or pallet industries.  According to Campbell, 90% of the product the mill supplies is 4x4, 4x6, 5x5, and 6x6 timbers, and 90% of all outgoing product is grade 2 or better. Most of the timber sold to the pallet industry is resawn, but not by Rocky Creek.

            “Rocky Creek enjoys a customer base nationally and internationally and competes on superior quality, service, and continuity of supply,” stated Mark DiCarlo, Vice President of Solid Wood Products.

            RoyOMartin, the brand name for Martin Companies, L.L.C., a group of family-owned, professionally managed forest-products and forestland-management companies, is based in Alexandria, Louisiana. The company, originally founded in 1923 as Roy O. Martin Lumber, is in its fourth generation of Martins. The company currently operates five manufacturing facilities in Central Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas. Besides the timber mill in Mexia, AL, RoyOMartin operates an OSB plant in Oakdale, LA; a plywood-manufacturing facility in Chopin, LA; a utility-pole fabrication and treating facility in Pineville, LA; and a pole-processing yard in Leola, AR. RoyOMartin is also recognized as one of the largest private landowners in Louisiana, currently owning 570,000 acres of highly productive and well-managed timberland in 32 parishes of the state.

            Rocky Creek’s state-of-the art sawmill is located on a 10-acre site with 128,000 square feet under roof. The mill accepts tree-length logs from area suppliers. Once logs are delivered, they are stored under the company’s Demco 20-ton circle crane, which feeds them into a Nicholson A7 debarker. The logs then go through a series of fully computerized systems that convert the logs into small timbers. The merchandiser system consists of a USNR Perceptron scanner and cut-up that was engineered by Bowlin and built by USNR. The primary breakdown is an Optimil double length infeed with an auto rotation and two canter heads with IG tools. Double-length scanning is also accomplished by a USNR Perceptron. An edger, USNR 6SBA-30 four saw, is also utilized. The company’s trimmer scanner, trimmer, and 42-bin sorter are each Baxley. A Maco green stacker with auto stick layer completes the green end of the mill. A secondary planer mill consists of a Yates-America 20-12 Planer which is monitored by a Wagner moisture meter and Lucidyne grade reader. Baxley equipment is once again prominent on the end trimmer, 30-bin sorter, and stacker. The line is completed by a Signode strapper.

            According to Campbell, the sawmill runs 24 hours per day, five days a week. After the expansion, sawmill operations will increase to run seven days a week. Drying operations will continue to run 24 hours per day, seven days a week. DiCarlo added that with the new expansion, Rocky Creek’s plant capacity will be increased from 90 to 120 million BF/year.

            According to Campbell, Rocky Creek Lumber shipments vary, but most are done by trucking. Shipments can also be arranged by center-beam rail car or by common carrier. The mill is served by the railway systems of Alabama and the Gulf Coast with access to NS, BN, and CSX. Flatbeds are also available with proximity to the Port of Mobile and other Gulf ports, which allow for easy export shipments.

            Rocky Creek currently has 90 employees and has operated continuously with the downturn in the economy. According to DiCarlo, RoyOMartin is committed to running its plants at design capacity and to servicing its customers well. “These two components have been our drivers in continuously operating through this period,” he stated. “We believe in developing our team, and part of that is providing training and education. This also helps us retain employees.”

            The company’s “Pay for Knowledge and Skills Program” has been instrumental in the purpose of creating and developing its team and increasing individual compensation as additional job skills are learned and on-going proficiency is demonstrated with hands-on experience.

            RoyOMartin also offers further education for current and potential leaders through their RoyOMartin University. Three of Rocky Creek’s employees have completed the five-month program, which began in September 2006 and has graduated 40 employees thus far. The comprehensive training includes courses such as marketing, forestry, accounting, and human resources; company tours of the RoyOMartin facilities and forestry districts; and a final group project.

            As a result of the expansion, 12 new positions will be added immediately during the qualification phase of the project, and up to 40 positions may be required as the mill is expanded to fully utilize the additional drying capacity.

            According to DiCarlo, the vision of RoyOMartin is to ensure its long-term viability as a privately-held, ethically-based, and professionally-managed company through four main goals: by distinguishing itself as an employer of choice with a safe, committed, competent, and contributing workforce; through acquisition of land, timber, and mineral resources; through recognition as an industry leader in each manufacturing segment for safety, profit margin, environmental compliance, and customer satisfaction; and finally, through running each manufacturing plant at its designed capacity.

            For further information on RoyOMartin-Rocky Creek Lumber, contact Bert Campbell, Sales Manager, at 888-220-5009 or visit www.royomartin.com.

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