Hokum invests in the future of the community

Mark Jones

KILLALOE – A Killaloe lumber company that celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2013 is once more investing in the future of the community.

In phase one of the $22 million upgrade, the 2D saw line at the Ben Hokum and Son mill on its 267 acre site on Black Point, Golden Lake, is replaced with a 3D saw line. Production on that one line is expected to increase from 19 million feet to 33 million feet per shift.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new line on April 25, company President Dean Felhaber, said the company was faced with a simple choice.

“I had to decide whether I’m in business or I’m not. It’s as simple as that. Either go ahead, or, if I stand still, this company doesn’t have a fighting chance.”

Felhaber said, “I was born and grew up in Killaloe. I really hope we create a business of young people that don’t think they have to go away to the city to get work, they stay here and build the local economy here.”

Felhaber said the company asked itself what it had to do to stay in business for the next 10, 20 to 30 years.

“We have to get our costs down…we have to staff the roles we have. That’s why we decided to go automated and change the workplace, change the jobs that are available.”

The new 3D line takes the human decisions out of production. Logs are laser scanned in three dimensions as they enter the line where the logs are rotated and cut automatically guided by computers devising the maximum value of each log.

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