Local lumber mills benefit from trade deal with U.K.

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GOSHEN (WSLS 10) - Governor Terry McAuliffe  announced new export sales of Virginia wood products to the United Kingdom during a trade and marketing mission to Israel and the U.K. this week.

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 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.

Blue Ridge Lumber was established in 1981 in Rockbridge County. The company has sites in Fairfield, Covington, Goshen and Tappahannock.

Needless to say, they are excited about establishing sales with a key buyer in a growing market overseas.

Every piece of lumber is carefully cut and inspected as it quickly comes in and goes out of the lumber yard at the Blue Ridge lumber company's site in Goshen.

The tree's harvested are handpicked, this lumber yard wants only the finest product for what they say is one of the most essential natural resources available world-wide.

"Wood does a lot. It goes a long way," said Assistant Sales manager Heather Woods.

Like many other workers there, she grew up in the area.

While wood is a plentiful resource in the U.S., it's not in United Kingdom. Natural wood supplies were depleted long ago. Today, they rely on supplies from American companies.

Thanks to the new trade deal, Blue Ridge Lumber is one of four companies in the state who will supply those demands.

"We were already established in the marketing program so we actually got a sample order out of this so thank you Virginia," Woods said.

She says that sample order has the potential to lead to more orders from other customers overseas.

"It gets Blue Ridges' name out there and in the door," Woods said.

Exporting is really the bread and butter of the lumber business. They say in their particular lumber yard alone, about 80% of all business is shipped overseas.

Blue Ridge ships wood to 17 different countries.

"We do a lot of export shipments so if we could get more into there that would be great," Woods said.

All aspects of the company's product and how it's made is local. It has 160 employees whom now have extra job security thanks to the new deal that they hope in the future will lead to more deals made.

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