Winslow economy to benefit from forest restoration initiative

When fully operational the Winslow plant to boast $27 million payroll

WINSLOW, Ariz. - The three principals in Pioneer Forest Products explained their business plan for establishing a wood processing facility in Winslow at the Winslow Hubbell building on June 28 at 9 a.m. The company looked at 15 northern Arizona sites before settling on Winslow. The plant will be fully operational by December of 2013 and after five years, the payroll in the area will be $27 million dollars per year. The Winslow plant will have one million square feet of floor space and process 24 eight-foot logs every minute, eventually 24 hours a day.

The inked contract with the Forest Service for tree thinning (five to 15 inches in diameter) allows investors a sound basis for investment in the Winslow plant. The facility's construction will generate $57 million of economic output, $18 million of labor income and 364 jobs. According to Yeon Su Kim, Northern Arizona University School of Forestry, once the facility is up and running, it will generate $157 million annually in Coconino and Navajo Counties. This includes revenue from tree harvesting, manufacturing and biomass power generation.

The three principals presenting the plan were President Herman Hauck, Chief Operating Officer Mike Cooley and Forest Manager Marlin Johnson. Hauck led off the presentation explaining his background in business, construction and wood processing. He also gave a little summary of his family and where they might fit in the future of Pioneer Forest Products. Hauck is well past the typical retirement age and said he has tried the retirement life style unsuccessfully a number of times. Hauck explained to his doctor that it was very important that he live at least ten more years in order to see the Winslow project to maturity. He said his doctor made no promises but also did not deny the possibility that Hauck would see the Winslow facility operate to capacity.

Hauck is an expert in harvesting and processing small trees for profit and 70 percent of his Winslow equipment will come from European countries including Germany and Finland. According to Hauck, these European tree-harvesting industries have refined the equipment and methods for "small tree" utilization to a fine art. Hauck has been involved for many years in small tree harvesting and will bring the technology to Winslow.

Hauck added that Pioneer will be operating a plant that conforms to the highest Federal and State environmental standards. There will be no degradation of air quality from the various manufacturing processes involved in converting the small trees to energy, panels, millwork, cabinets or wood veneer.

The manufacturers' technicians will install this equipment in the Winslow plant and the factory technicians will also do training of local operators. Overall, Cooley will manage the plant. Cooley said he has spent his adult career working in the forest products industry and currently lives in Mesa, Ariz. The small trees will be brought to the plant by truck after being cut in forest areas marked specifically for thinning by the Forest Service.

Johnson will be the Forest Manager for Pioneer Forest Products, overseeing all forest operations and interfacing with the US Forest Service. The number of jobs associated with harvesting forest, transport, sorting and record-keeping in the National Forests will amount to about 400, when in full production. One of the most interesting aspects of the Pioneer Forest Products innovative business model is having the ability to use all of the biomass from tree falling and convert it diesel fuel and solid materials useable for agriculture. As a result, there will be no fires or smoke columns emanating from the forest areas being thinned.

The three principals with Pioneer Forest Products said the company will be hiring as many local contractors and individuals as possible and publicizing the openings on state and commercial listings. They will also be hosting job fairs and having other forms of informational updates.

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