West Fraser to hold anniversary celebration

Published 3:12 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

By Whitney Denson | Special to the Advertiser

There is much to celebrate in the town of Maplesville.

West Fraser is celebrating its 60th anniversary, while the Maplesville lumber mill owned by the company is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The two occasions will be celebrated together at West Fraser Mill, located at 7475 Highway 22 in Maplesville, on Oct. 3.

Everyone is invited to attend the free event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“There will be something for everybody, and a lot of things for the kids to do,” West Fraser employee and event organizer Genia Welden said.

Bouncy houses, obstacle courses and dunking booths are a few of many games that will be available at the celebration, along with prizes.

“It will be kind of like a ‘happy birthday’ event for the mill and the town,” Welden said. “This is the first time we’ve done something like this.”

Free koozies and T-shirts will be given away, along with free food such as popcorn and snow cones.

In addition to the fun, the mill will also be offering supervised tours of its facility.

Given by West Fraser’s various employees, the tours will take guests around the mill to view machines such as a brand new planer mill, an auto stick stacker, a continuous dry kiln and more.

“We want the community to know what we do,” Welden said. “All people see from the road is lumber and buildings. This is our way of showing them what we do.”

The tours will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will be offered approximately every 20 minutes.

West Fraser Superintendent Lee Wilson, Plant Manager Lee Shackelford and Maplesville Councilman Hal Harrison each had a hand in organizing the collaborative event.

Wilson and Shackelford will both spend time in the dunking booth, according to Welden.

“We offer a lot of jobs to the community, too,” Welden said. “This is for the employees and the community.”

The Maplesville branch of the company employs about 150 workers, while West Fraser currently owns 15 mills in nine states with approximately 2,200 employees overall.

The Maplesville mill has operated for over 40 years, with West Fraser acquiring the mill in 2007.

West Fraser, as a company, has been in operation 60 years, hence the celebration.

“West Fraser originated out of Canada, and the company’s birth is being celebrated there and at other mills,” Welden said. “We decided to have our own way of celebrating.”

The largest lumber producer in North America, West Fraser’s mills produce a diverse range of southern yellow pine lumber products for treating, decking, timbers and specialty wood products.

Welden said while many locals have some knowledge of the wood industry, the tours will be an informative opportunity for people to become more familiar with the town’s booming business.

Whether members of the community are hoping to learn something about the mill, or just looking for something fun to do, West Fraser will have a wide range of activities for every family and age group.

“This is our open invitation to the community,” Welden said.