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Tennessee building supply company acquiring Wawa OSB facility

LP Building Solutions' conversion to siding, trim manufacturing plant will bring 150 jobs to area
LP Building Solutions, a Nashville, Tenn.-based building supply company, is acquiring the oriented strand board facility in Wawa from Quebec's Forex.

LP Building Solutions is set to purchase the oriented strand board (OSB) facility in Wawa for an undisclosed sum.

In an April 21 news release, the Nashville, Tenn.-based building supply company said it would acquire the assets owned by Wawa OSB Inc., a subsidiary of Forex Inc., in a transaction that’s expected to be completed in early May.

The Wawa facility is currently set up to produce oriented strand board, an engineered wood product that’s used in the construction industry for roofing, flooring and wall applications.

Under the new ownership, it will be converted to manufacture engineered wood siding and trim.

"LP SmartSide trim and siding has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years, becoming one of the fastest-growing siding brands in the United States," Jason Ringblom, LP Building Solutions’ executive vice-president and general manager of siding, said in the release.

"In response to customer demand, we continue to expand our capacity across North America to position SmartSide for long-term growth. Our acquisition of Forex Inc.'s Wawa facility is a great addition to our fleet of siding mills and a perfect example of how we are investing in the future of SmartSide."

The sale comes a little more than a year after Forex purchased the facility, which had sat idled since 2017, announcing big plans for its restart, including hiring 140 people to staff it.

Describing it as a $180-million project, Forex was to receive up to $15 million in assistance from the Ontario government.

At the time, Yolaine Rousseau, Forex’s executive vice-president, called the provincial investment “a key first step in financing our project.”

“The Cossette family is very excited about creating jobs in Northern Ontario and increasing our production capacity to better serve North American customers,” Rousseau said in a news release at the time.

“I would like to reiterate our commitment to working with the various stakeholders, including the First Nations in the territory. Our team is proud and grateful to the Government of Ontario for recognizing the importance of this project to the province, and we will continue our discussions with the Government of Canada to obtain their support as well.”

Built in the mid-1990s, the Wawa plant produced OSB until 2007.

In 2013, after being acquired by California-based Rentech, the plant was converted to a pellet mill, but closed again just four years later after the company declared bankruptcy. It had remained in shutdown until the Forex purchase in 2022.

LP Building Solutions said once converted, the Wawa facility would add roughly 400 million square feet of capacity to its production, making it the company’s largest single-line siding mill.

It will bring LP’s total siding capacity to 2.7 billion square feet annually, and bring more than 150 jobs to the area.

"We are thrilled to see the continued revival of this wood-based plant coming true," Rousseau said in the April 21 news release. "We would like to thank all the employees, First Nations, suppliers and local authorities for their support of this project."

LP Building Solutions had no immediate start date for construction.