Savona Specialty Plywood in British Columbia receives delivery from Lillooet veneer plant, operations working together for first time in 18 months under new owner the Aspen Group

Wendy Lisney

Wendy Lisney

Apr 19, 2011 – Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

VICTORIA, British Columbia , April 18, 2011 (press release) – More than 80 plywood production workers are back on the job in the Thompson region with the reopening of Savona Specialty Plywood, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced today.

Initial production resumed in January 2011, after the Aspen Group acquired the Savona plywood plant, along with a veneer facility in Lillooet, in December 2010, from Ainsworth Engineered. The Lillooet facility began running earlier this month. Savona received its first load of veneer strips from Lillooet on April 12, reconnecting a supply chain that had been inactive for about 18 months.

The Savona facility specializes in overlay plywood products, mainly for concrete forms, as well as highly durable, paintable panels for highway signs. Overlay plywood is a high value-added product used in a number of other applications, such as countertops, fences, garage doors, storage racks and bins, displays shelves and assembly benches.

Destinations for Savona Specialty Plywood products include customers in eastern Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Ireland and Panama.

When the company fully re-establishes its markets and economic conditions further improve, Savona Specialty Plywood expects to add a second shift, increasing its total number of workers to over 110.

Ainsworth closed the Savona operation in 2009 because of the global economic downturn and reduced demand from the United States due to the weaker U.S. dollar and the crisis in the American housing market. Ainsworth also made the decision to close the Savona plant to focus more on production of oriented strand board.


Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –

“It’s great to see Savona and Lillooet running again, and on the list of more than 25 mills that have re-opened in B.C. since November 2009. The B.C. forest sector continues to bounce back strongly and workers and families like the ones in Savona are enjoying the economic benefits provided this resurgence.”

David Gray, Aspen Group –

“We are truly back in business now that the Savona and Lillooet operations are once again up to speed and working together. Savona Specialty Plywood is now ready to reclaim its position as North America’s largest and most technologically advanced producer of medium- and high-density overlay panels.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Savona plywood plant began operation in the late 1950s under the ownership of Savona Timber.
  • In addition to the Aspen Planers lumber mill in Merritt, the Aspen Group owns Coldwater Post and Rail in Merritt and MWP Cascade Post and Rail in Princeton.
  • Medium density overlay (MDO) plywood is commonly known as the paintable, general purpose panel. Paint finishes on MDO are up to three times more durable than the same finish applied to ordinary plywood.
  • Depending on conditions, MDO panels used for concrete framework are estimated to be 20 per cent to 40 per cent stronger than other standard plywood panels of the same thickness.
  • Major uses for high density overlay (HDO) plywood include concrete framework, storage bins, liquid tanks and signs.

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