Spanish Trail Lumber expanding to serve Jackson County

    Mark Skinner | TIMES

    After Hurricane Michael, the timber industry took a huge hit. But local timber farmers say the future of the industry is looking bright. Spanish Trails Lumber is based out of Marianna, is moving forward with expanding its factory. Spanish Trail wasted no time in bouncing back and making sure the county’s timber producers were in a position to bounce back. Hurricane Michael left roughly 72 million tons of timber rotting on the ground. Nearly a year later, and one local lumber manufacturer is using new technology to salvage all that they’ve lost.
    The company harvests timber and sells it on a global level. Following Hurricane Michael, Spanish Trail Lumber General Manager Ross Jackson said, “We’re going to Tennessee, we’re going to Virginia, we’re going to Texas and of course Georgia and Alabama and we’re competing with wood that’s manufactured around the world.”
    Hurricane Michael destroyed most of their supply. The U.S. Forest Service deeming the damage as catastrophic, “A lot of people have 40-50 acres and they like to hunt on it but you can’t even walk through it,” Jackson said.
    At that time Jackson said he knew they had to find a solution so the company decided to take a leap and invest in equipment never used before the storm in the Southeast. That was an expense his company undertook because they believed in their company and the ability for the panhandle to rebound.
    The machine they invested in, referred to as a Ponsse Scorpion King, can navigate through all the debris the storm left behind.
    Jackson said saving the timber industry is not just about the economy, it’s about the future of our state as we know it.
    This past week the company broke ground on a 23,000 square foot expansion as well as hiring more employees. While some believe the timber industry is faltering, they say that demand is steadily increasing. Spanish Trail continues to do business with companies from across the tri-state area, showing there is indeed a demand.
    The manufacturer began construction Wednesday morning and the new facility is expected to be finished by the end of the month, “We’ve assessed the damage and looked out and there’s plenty of timber available for a company such as us. This project is a little bit over a million dollars. We certainly believe in this area, this facility, and we’re prepared to invest in Jackson County,” said Jackson.
    The company will be hiring both skilled and unskilled workers to help them get the local industry back to pre-storm conditions.
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