The Dover-Foxcroft-based Pleasant River Lumber company is expanding its Jackman sawmill in anticipation of increased demand for American lumber amid the U.S. government’s plans to levy tariffs on Canadian softwood.
In a media release Tuesday, Pleasant River Lumber said it is expanding its Moose River spruce mill in Jackman to add drying capacity this summer and hire up to 20 new workers for a second shift starting this fall.
“We have confidence with the recent tariff announcement a level playing field will exist that will allow us to invest in and expand our facilities in Maine,” said Jason Brochu, co-president of the family-owned Pleasant River Lumber.
The company employs 300 workers at its spruce and pine sawmills in Dover-Foxcroft, Jackman, Hancock and Sanford. The company acquired the Moose River Mill in Jackman in 2015, and it now produces about 85 million board feet of dimensional lumber a year.
Brochu said that the Moose River sawmill has faced “incredible competition from Canada in the past due to its close proximity to the border.” In an interview with the BDN late last year, Brochu said that Pleasant River Lumber “has been forced to run below capacity during this cycle due to intense and unfair competition from Canadian imports.”
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would levy countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber, ranging from 3.02 percent to 24.12 percent depending on the company.
The move was prompted by a trade petition from the U.S. lumber industry arguing that Canadian lumber exporters have been flooding the American market with cheap wood subsidized by the Canadian government in the form of access to public timberlands.
For Pleasant River Lumber, Brochu said that the announcement of countervailing duties made the timing right for an expansion.
“We will be spending the summer building a new dry kiln, hiring and training new workers and securing the necessary raw material and bi-product markets to handle the increased production,” Brochu said.