By Frank Lewis
Fluor-B&W Portsmouth LLC has awarded a grant of $44,000 to help reopen the former Sherwood Forest lumber mill near Waverly. When operational, the mill will employee 18-25 people, specializing in kiln-dried Appalachian hardwood lumber in a variety of species (walnut, cherry and white oak). The mill will operate under the name Ohio Valley International, Inc. and is scheduled to be reopened this year.
“We have a lot of local business leaders with ideas to expand their business and create jobs. They just need a little extra help to get started,” Fluor-B&W Deputy Project Director Bob Nichols said. “Through our Fluor-B&W Community Commitment Plan and with input from the Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio (JEDISO) and county economic development directors, we can give these businesses much needed seed monies to get started.”
Fluor-B&W is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) contractor for the decontamination and decommissioning of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. Nichols said part of the company’s mission is a commitment to improving the economy of southern Ohio by reinvesting in emerging businesses in the communities surrounding the Cold War-era plant.
“We are extremely grateful for the Fluor B&W Community Commitment Funding and excited for the future of Ohio Valley International, LLC,” Ohio Valley Founder & CEO Edward Robbins said. “This funding will serve as a cornerstone in the construction, development and growth for our company.”
Ohio Valley International is a venture of Ohio Valley Veneer which was founded in 1990 by Edward and Carol Robbins. What started as a logging crew expanded to the acquisition of two sawmills in Piketon by 1999. The company continues to expand and now has multiple operations in the region, employing 113 people with $26 million in annual sales. Ohio Valley looks to carve out a niche with Ohio Valley International by steaming walnut lumber to create color uniformity which is sought by end-use manufacturers. Lumber products will be sold both domestically and internationally.
Fluor-B&W Portsmouth LLC also awarded a $20,000 grant to Tim’s Wood Shop in Jackson County to partially fund the purchase of new equipment that will process sawdust and turn it into wood briquettes for residential and commercial heating.
“What I like about this project is that it not only will create jobs, but it takes a waste stream and turns it into a marketable product,” Fluor-B&W Deputy Project Director Bob Nichols said. “The process and equipment for pressing the briquettes is extremely innovative. I’m very impressed by owner Tim Crabtree and his incorporating this into his operation.”
Crabtree started Tim’s Wood Shop in 1985 and now employs six people – manufacturing solid wood doors, trim, stair parts and flooring from hardwoods harvested in the region. Products made from oak, poplar, walnut, ash and cherry are shipped throughout the U.S. and abroad. The company generates large quantities of saw dust and the new venture into fuel briquettes will create two additional full-time jobs. The grant will be used to help purchase the machine that will make the briquettes from sawdust.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.