CHOPIN — Gov. John Bel Edwards and RoyOMartin President and CEO Roy O. Martin III announced July 30 that the company will invest $8 million at its Chopin plywood and solid wood plant to install a new dry kiln designed to increase timber production. Additionally, the company will connect to natural gas pipelines, increase log in-feed and out-feed capacity, and expand the facility’s shipping and finishing area. With the new investment, the company will create 14 new direct jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $46,800, plus benefits. The company will retain 680 existing jobs at the site, and Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 40 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 50 new jobs in the region.
RoyOMartin, headquartered in Alexandria, Louisiana, is the trade name of Martco LLC, which operates the Chopin plant. The company’s modernization efforts in Chopin will include upgrades to scanning software and hardware, and upgrades to automated systems, including programmable linear controls and motor variable-frequency drives.
“The continued investment by RoyOMartin in Central Louisiana is a demonstration of the tremendous success that can be found in our state,” Gov. Edwards said. “With a highly skilled workforce and an abundance of natural resources, RoyOMartin has become a leader in the timber industry and a major economic driver for Louisiana. We are proud that this company continues to invest in our state, build on its leadership role, and create great new jobs for our people.”
RoyOMartin’s plywood and solid wood facility opened in 1996 with 330 employees. Today, the site employs 680 workers and uses 1.1 million tons of Louisiana pine timber annually. The facility also employs 25 foresters and technicians at its district office on-site.
“Since 1996, the Chopin, Louisiana, plywood facility has continued to grow, through moving into new product lines and doubling employment to approximately 700,” Roy O. Martin III said. “Throughout the past 21 years, with the help of Natchitoches Parish officials and five Louisiana administrations, the facility has prospered, turning sustainable Louisiana timber into products shipped nationwide.”
One of the largest independent lumber companies in the South, RoyOMartin operates plywood and oriented strand board, or OSB, facilities in Chopin and Oakdale, Louisiana. The company operates a Corrigan, Texas, subsidiary that also produces OSB. In May 2013, LED and RoyOMartin announced a company investment of $20 million to upgrade drying equipment at its Chopin facility, add a production line, and create new jobs.
“RoyOMartin and its plant in Chopin are major contributors to the economic well-being of our parish,” said Natchitoches Parish President Rick Nowlin. “We are very pleased to learn of the company’s plans for a further expansion of its production capability there. The result will be more good jobs, both direct and indirect, and additional economic growth for our area.”
To secure the project, the State of Louisiana provided a competitive incentive package that includes a performance-based, forgivable loan of $350,000 from the state’s Economic Development Award Program. Additionally, RoyOMartin is expected to participate in the state’s Enterprise Zone and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
“RoyOMartin represents a cornerstone of Central Louisiana’s economy,” said Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance President and CEO Jim Clinton. “Their Chopin plant is one of the most advanced manufacturing facilities of its kind in the world. CLEDA offers its congratulations to RoyOMartin and to all our partners in Chopin and Natchitoches Parish.”