Where We Come From
While Caddo River Forest Products is technically new to the lumber industry, our roots are intertwined with the history of Glenwood and the thriving lumber industry of Arkansas. Our mill was originally built by Georgia Pacific in the 1970s as an extension of Bean Lumber Company, which originally opened in Amity in 1940. At the time, the company was one of the largest independent southern pine manufacturers in the U.S.
Arkansas plays a huge part in the national timber industry. With 18.4 million acres of productive timberland in the state, Arkansas is the highest ranking softwood lumber producer in the South and fourth in the nation. Lumber is one of Arkansas’s top cash crops, and much of the state’s cities got their start in the industry.
The Bean Lumber Mill (commonly referred to as the Glenwood Sawmill) was not a pioneer in the lumber industry of Arkansas, but it was a major player in the development of Glenwood. By the late 1900s, The Great Depression had ended, with the national economy back on the rise. Dangerous farming practices were starting to recede, and the demand for timber was once again increasing. This gave the Glenwood Sawmill the perfect opportunity to hit the ground running, quickly becoming one of the most important mills in the area.
In 1992, Curt Bean invested several million to build the most technologically advanced mill in North America. The mill used a log-handling system that used computers and lasers. Why that may sound pretty standard practice in 2017, that kind of technology in the early 1990s was groundbreaking. As the home of the country’s most advanced mill, Glenwood was able to grow and flourish as skilled workers and their families moved to town. At the mill’s peak, Bean Lumber Mill employed 200 workers and produced 150 million board feet of pine lumber a year.
By the turn of the century, the timber industry was booming, and Arkansas was making a name for itself. Private landowners were selling their timberland to companies and working in the forestry industry was one of the most popular jobs in the state. In 1998, ⅙ of all manufacturing jobs were in forest product harvesting and manufacturing.
Fast forward to 2007. The recession hit, and the entire country suffered. The housing market plummeted quickly, and the demand for lumber almost mirrored the decline. Speculation of scandal and investigations into allegations did not help the Bean Lumber Mill, and by 2010, they were forced to shut down completely.
Through the bankruptcy, CAT Financial took ownership of the mill. They almost immediately sold the property to a joint venture between Castle Hill Partners (a private investor in commercial properties) and McCaslin Barrow Henderson (a timberland investment management organization). The closing of the mill was devastating for Glenwood. People were leaving to find other jobs, the economy suffered, and no one really knew when or even if the mill would ever reopen.
In 2016, Suwanne Lumber joined in as an investor through Blue Wolf Capital Partners to create Caddo River Forest Products. Immediately, plans were made to reopen the mill and begin the revival process for Glenwood. The mill has directly provided more than 120 jobs, with indirect jobs being created subsequently. We’re proud to stand on the legacy of the Bean Lumber Mill, and we’re dedicated to continuing its work.
Quality products, sustainable practices, and respect to the men and women who work hard for us everyday. It’s what makes us who we are, and we’re proud of it. Want to contribute to the legacy as an employee?