Plywood mill reopens in Savona

A plywood mill that was closed for nearly two years has officially reopened, giving renewed hope to a small community outside of Kamloops.

Savona Specialty Plywood welcomed its first load of veneer strips last week in Savona, a landmark transaction that was celebrated in a ceremony Monday, attended by B.C.'s new forestry minister.

Steve Thomson was on hand with company officials to launch what is hoped will be a more promising future for the former Ainsworth mill, now that 80 workers are back on the job.

Savona is a community of about 650. The manager of the local Super Save gas station said her store is already busier with the mill back in production.

And while fellow Savona business operator Gary Miller hasn't noticed a big increase in business at his Miller's Crossing, he said the mill's reopening is good for the community.

"It is a big deal," said Miller.

"I'm sure the trickle-down effect will take place."

The Savona mill specializes in overlay plywood products, mainly for concrete forms, as well as durable, paintable panels for highway signs. Overlay plywood is a high value-added product used in a number of other applications, such as countertops, fences, garage doors, storage racks and bins, displays shelves and assembly benches.

Destinations for Savona Specialty Plywood products include customers in Eastern Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Ireland and Panama.

When the company fully re-establishes its markets and economic conditions further improve, Savona Specialty Plywood expects to add a second shift, increasing its total number of workers to more than 110.

Ainsworth closed the Savona operation in 2009 because of the global economic downturn and reduced demand from the United States due to the weaker U.S. dollar and the crisis in the American housing market. Ainsworth also made the decision to close the Savona plant to focus more on production of oriented strand board.

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