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Louisiana-Pacific breaks ground on $150M conversion of New Limerick, Maine mill

MAINE (From news reports) -- Louisiana-Pacific Corp. said it will break ground this week on a $150 million conversion of its mill in New Limerick to turn out the company's flagship siding and trim product.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based company received its building permit for the project Monday and has all other necessary permits in hand, spokesperson Breeanna Straessle said.

The facility is commonly called "LP Houlton" due to its proximity to the larger city, although it's actually located in New Limerick.

"In the words of LP Houlton Plant Manager Nathan Whitney, 'Let's dig a hole!'" Straessle said.

Initial work will include demolition and construction at various places around the property. "We've mobilized many contractors to help, including several local teams," she said.

Due to COVID precautions, there will be no official groundbreaking ceremony.

The conversion will allow the facility to increase production of LP's flagship product, an engineered wood trim and siding called LP SmartSide. The products are marketed under the name LP Building Solutions.

The conversion aims to supply growing demand for SmartSide and better penetrate the new home construction and repair and remodel markets along the East Coast.

LP pioneered the U.S. production of oriented strand board panels in 1982 and later launched its SmartSide engineered wood siding product in 1997.

The investment and conversion is expected to increase the company's consumption of local and sustainably sourced fiber by an estimated 30%, which is expected to benefit providers across the supply chain, including local businesses.

It's expected the facility will be back online as a SmartSide mill in early 2022, Straessle said.

Record demand
Louisiana-Pacific Corp. has experienced record-high demand for its products over the past year, according to Straessle.

"We are operating every LP manufacturing site at full capacity -- running 24/7 -- and even expanding capacity to make our products in the safest, most efficient way possible," she said.

Louisiana-Pacific, which was founded in 1972, operates 25 plants in the U.S., Canada, Chile and Brazil.

The company is issuing bonuses to its hourly employees at all LP mills in North America to thank them for their persistence over the past year.

"They were deemed essential workers early on and continued to come to work each and every day," she said.

A $1,000 bonus was issued last summer, followed by a recent $500 bonus. In six months, they'll receive another $2,000 bonus, she said. Hourly new hires are receiving the same bonuses through the end of 2021.

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