Governor Terry McAuliffe announced new export sales of Virginia wood products to the United Kingdom (U.K.) during a trade and marketing mission to Israel and the U.K. The sales were struck between four Virginia lumber companies and James Latham PLC, one of the oldest and largest wood importers and distributors into the U.K., the top customer of Virginia wood products in 2015.
The Virginia companies, Blue Ridge Lumber, Turman Lumber, Virginia-Carolina Forest Products, and W.R. Deacon & Sons Timber, were introduced to Lathams during a tour of Virginia hardwood operations by senior Lathams staff in June. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Office of International Marketing facilitated the visit following meetings in London between Governor McAuliffe, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore and Lathams staff during the Governor’s trade mission to Europe in April.
Speaking in London about the new relationship between Lathams and the Virginia wood companies, McAuliffe said: ”I’m pleased to see our efforts to introduce more Virginia products into the global marketplace paying off for Virginia companies. We have built an excellent relationship with Latham over the past year after meeting with their team in London and inviting them to tour our sawmills in Virginia. After such successful negotiations, I am honored to be back in London to announce this new export relationship. Connecting Virginia producers of high quality agriculture and forestry products with international buyers is key to our continuing efforts to build the new Virginia economy and this deal puts us another step closer to making Virginia the East Coast capital for agriculture and forestry product exports.”
“This is a perfect example of the type of partnership we hope to help Virginia companies establish,” said Secretary Haymore, who visited a Lathams’ depot outside of London, one of the company’s ten distribution centers. “By utilizing VDACS’ network of international representatives, we were able to identify Lathams as a promising buyer, meet with them on the Governor’s mission, and introduce them to Virginia producers via a reverse trade mission. Exports are vital for business growth and we’re thankful for the resources Governor McAuliffe and the General Assembly have provided to keep these international sales climbing.”
Originally founded in 1757, Lathams is now managed by ninth generation members of the Latham family and offers a wide variety of wood products to clients throughout the U.K. Speaking about the new wood products purchases, Lathams Director James White commented: “We are excited to have found new sources for high quality wood products, particularly Virginia’s top quality White Oak and Poplar and look forward to making additional purchases in the future. Without VDACS’ U.K. based representatives reaching out to Lathams, I doubt we would have found these lumber companies on our own.”
Speaking on behalf of the four Virginia companies, Susan Jennings, President of the Virginia Forest Products Asso-ciation, added: “Europe is an important market for Virginia wood products. We are appreciative of all of the efforts made by Governor McAuliffe and his team to identify new buyers for our members and all Virginia wood products companies. It can be tough for these companies to make the investment to travel overseas to meet with potential buyers themselves, so we thank Governor McAuliffe, Secretary Haymore, and the VDACS staff and international representatives for making these introductions for them.”
The lumber companies all operate active sawmills in Virginia and represent a wide geographic area of the state:
- Blue Ridge Lumber, with log yards in Highland County and Tappahannock, mills in Fishersville and Coving-ton, dry kilns in Fishersville and Goshen, and a woodworking operation in Stillwater, VA, has annual production of over 35 million board feet of lumber and ships an average of 1500 containers of wood products overseas annually.
- Turman Lumber is part of The Turman Group of Virginia, which employs more than 500 people in the forest products industry in the Southwest region of Virginia. Turman Lumber manufactures all grades of lumber to include furniture grade, hardwood flooring, kiln-dried lumber, veneer logs, and pallet stock, and ships to dozens of countries worldwide.
- Virginia-Carolina is a family-owned lumber mill that has grown since its founding in 1991 to employ almost 100 people in Brunswick County.
- W.R. Deacon and Sons is a family-owned and operated lumber mill established in 1977 in Rockbridge County, and is an example of a small Virginia business actively marketing and selling its products in international markets.
Agricultural and forestry exports from Virginia were valued at $3.19 billion in 2015, the second highest value ever. Virginia’s agriculture and forestry exports to the U.K. reached a new high in 2015, at $133 million of which about $110 were wood products exports. Lumber exports from Virginia to the U.K. were valued at $11.6 million in 2015. The United Kingdom was Virginia’s sixth largest customer in 2015.