Blue Wolf’s operational and management expertise, plus a willingness to take on complex issues enabled our work reigniting a local mill and the surrounding job market, transforming a struggling business to a leader in the housing industry.
Creating Value While Rebuilding a Community
In 2011, still reeling from the Great Recession, the Caddo mill – which was originally constructed in the 1970s by Georgia Pacific and had been run by a local entrepreneur for over a decade – shuttered. Hundreds of jobs were lost in a city of just 2,500 people, the local economy suffered, and the mill sat vacant for seven years. Building on our success with the Suwannee Lumber Company in Florida and our ability to leverage the Suwannee management team and our network of external advisors, Blue Wolf decided to invest in the restart of Caddo in October of 2016.
Where others saw complexity, we saw opportunity. When it came to Caddo, we developed a plan to create a strong, public-private partnership that brought together the community’s exceptionally talented workforce, the local political and business leaders, and our Suwannee Management Team’s proven success of managing complex capital projects. We also believed that by upgrading the sawmill’s equipment and improving its infrastructure, as well as bringing in top-tier talent, we could modernize the operation. Our vision to relaunch Caddo, along with our track record in the industry, made it more likely that key local stakeholders would be supportive.
What started as a vision for Caddo in the fall of 2016 turned into reality just five months after we commenced the restart in January 2017. Led by Brett Bray, a proven industry leader and Arkansas native who had a shared vision for what Caddo could once again be, we recommenced operations at the mill in May of 2017. Within three months after commencement of operations, the business was profitable. With production steadily improving, hundreds of jobs were directly and indirectly attributable to the mill – providing economic growth and a revitalization to a mill town.
After relaunching Caddo and achieving profitability, Blue Wolf sold and integrated the business – along with Suwannee Lumber Company – with Conifex Timber Inc., a public company based in Canada. The transaction ensures Caddo and Suwannee will be part of a large, institutional owner that will position it for long-term success. As part of the transaction, Blue Wolf received nomination rights for two seats on Conifex’s Board of Directors and became the largest shareholder of Conifex Timber.
Caddo was a financial success, but we’re most proud to have played a role in creating jobs, reviving a town, and restarting a company that is now well-positioned for the future.