Rotary learns how to make plywood

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2018

David Norman, procurement manager for Coastal Plywood of Havana, Fla., came to Rotary this week. With the help of a video, he explained how plywood is made from pine logs.

The company employs 328 people and runs 24/7. They process 325 loads per week and ship most of their product to customers in Florida, with some going to Georgia and South Carolina.

Norman said Coastal is the only plywood manufacturer left in Florida, and it puts $34 million dollars a year into the local economy. They have an additional plant in Chapman, Alabama, and their largest competitor is the country of Chile.

Email newsletter signup

The video presentation gave a step-by-step demonstration, beginning with how the logs must be cut to a specified length. The next step is removal of the bark. The bark is then saved and used as fuel for their boilers. Norman said 100 percent of their fuel comes from wood scraps.

As the video proceeded, it showed most of the process is highly automated, and each process that produces any by-product, such as woodchips, is either sold or used in another process. All waste is reusable, right down to the cores that are sold as poles and landscape timber.

Norman described the process as the cycle of the forest, with trees being a renewable resource. He noted this region is a good place for the company, as there are now more trees growing than being used, and it takes 16 to 20 years to grow the tree to size.

They ship out 115 loads of plywood and 75 loads of chips each week.

The company owns 29 thousand acres of forested land in the area and each year they sponsor an ATV Trail ride. This year 450 people participated, and all proceeds go to support Shands Childrens Bureau Network.