Frank Dottori, the man credited with re-opening idled lumber mills in White River and Témiscaming, Quebec, has acquired control of the former Olav Haavaldsrud Timber (OHT) sawmill in Hornepayne.
The deal is expected to revive a dormant 63-year-old forestry operation that until last year was the second-largest employer after CN Rail in Hornepayne, a community of 1,050 souls.
“The transaction is in the best interests of all parties with a real economic interest in these proceedings,” says PricewaterhouseCoopers, acting as receiver in OHT’s insolvency proceedings.
An additional shift could be added next spring, possibly dependent on softwood lumber negotiations between Canada and the United States, the broadcaster says.
It’s been more than a decade since Dottori left Tembec.
“He founded Tembec in 1973, reviving one shuttered mill in Témiscaming, Quebec and transforming it into a global forest products company with 55 mills in North America, Europe and South America,” journalist Peter Kuitenbrouwer wrote in a Financial Postprofile last year.
“In his 33 years at Tembec, the plain-speaking Mr. Dottori became a legend; the National Film Board made a film about him and Témiscaming, called A Town That Wouldn’t Die.”
Three years ago, the supposedly retired Dottori re-opened the former Abitibi Price/Domtar sawmill in White River.
“In this business, you’ve either got to be small and a specialist or you’ve got to be big enough that there aren’t too many sharks,” Dottori told the trade publication Wood Business after that sawmill restarted following a half-dozen years of inactivity.
Dottori told the CBC that having mills in both White River and Hornepayne should help both operations, with parts of the wood supply capable of being handled at either mill.
The Hornepayne sawmill closed on November 27, 2015 with debt exceeding $3.5 million, leaving almost 150 workers without jobs.
Forty prospective purchasers of the sawmill were identified and approached by the court-appointed receiver.
Eleven companies expressed interest, of which seven met the criteria to become first-stage qualified bidders.
After site visits, discussions and due diligence, three bidders were admitted to the second stage of the sale process.
Two binding offers were received, from which Dottori’s company was declared to the successful bidder.
The sale doesn’t include an adjacent biomass fuel-fired co-generation facility, known as the Becker Cogeneration Plant.
Hornepayne Mayor Morley Forster told the CBC that the sawmill’s new owner still must conclude union negotiations with the mill workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 1-2010.