Hardwood flooring entrepreneur Bert Thompson has invested about $3 million for a new Macon, Ga., mill to transform wood flour into filler for plastics and chemical processing.
"The plastics industry is a great attraction right now," said Kirk Sencindiver, chief operating officer for recently formed Southern Wood Services LLC.
Operations will start in March. Sencindiver began working on the mill concept in 1997 as projects manager for Piedmont Hardwood Flooring LLC.
"We will take the raw sawdust from our floor and process it into wood flour" at a separate site, he said in a telephone interview. Thompson owns both companies.
Piedmont employs 120, produces about 375,000 square feet of hardwood flooring per week and has an extensive domestic distribution network. Lack of space at the flooring plant prompted establishment of the new location.
The 10,200-square-foot, wood-flour mill was constructed on a 10-acre site in Macon, about a mile from the hardwood flooring factory. Equipment includes a grinding system, two storage silos and bag houses and pneumatic controls.
Thompson's investment covered costs of land, construction and equipment.
Wood flour is used as an agent to stabilize chemicals in manufacturing explosives. At one time, the linoleum industry used wood flour to carry color agents into the flooring material.
Southern Wood will compete in the wood-flour market with P.J. Murphy Forest Products Corp. of Montville, N.J., and American Wood Fibers Inc. of Columbia, Md.