Surface & Panel Q4 2017 - Page 28

Community College Expands Curriculum To Meet Needs of ARAUCO, Industry T he Grayling, Michigan, region not only has the abundant forests that ARAUCO North America needs for its new particleboard and TFL plant, it has a welcoming community and a college that is gearing up to train workers. “I see this as a great opportunity for this area,” said Dr. Thomas Quinn, president of Kirtland Community College. Kirtland has 1,600 students at four campuses, including about 500 in Grayling, and it is adding programs that will bolster existing classes to help prepare students to work at ARAUCO and 14 other area companies involved in the wood products industry. Other companies include Weyerhaeuser, AJD Forest Products, Springs Window Fashions and Georgia-Pacific, which has a resin plant nearby. Kirtland already offers what it calls Mechatronics programs, which basi- cally cover mechanical and electrical technologies. Quinn described the focus as “part electrician with a knowledge of processes and automation.” The college plans to expand its curriculum to add training in automation, robotics and process control to match the needs of plants that are continu- ally growing more sophisticated. “We are assuming that the whole plant is somewhat of a robot,” Quinn said. Another area of growth at the college is wood technology “to the extent that people in furniture construction and lamination need a sense of the moisture content of wood, characteristics of wood panels, lamination pro- cesses, the characteristics of adhesives,” Quinn said. “All of the sorts of things that go into modern manufacturing techniques.” To accommodate the growth, Kirtland is building a $6.1 million addition to be named the Michigan Forest Products Institute. It is scheduled for completion in January 2019. Kirtland can tap into about $50 million in government funding and tax incentives to cover the new programming without additional costs to ARAUCO or other companies. Quinn said. “We are leveraging our resources to train people to do a better job in this industry,” he said. With the addition of ARAUCO and possibly other companies, Quinn believes the region could become “the epicenter” of growth for the forest products industry. Besides forest products, the Kirtland region’s economy relies largely on tourism, which is inconsistent, so the addition of an employer such as ARAUCO is a big step toward greater stability. “ARAUCO coming in and providing good jobs is really going to help this economy,” said Quinn, who noted that each of the 200 new jobs could yield four more ancillary jobs at places such as stores and restaurants. Kevin Shotbolt, ARAUCO’s vice president of marketing, said the col- lege’s training and the job opportunities at the new plant will allow more of the college’s 100 annual graduates to remain in the region and work. “It’s opening up a tremendous opportunity for young people to stay,” Shotbolt said. “We feel so good about all of this,” he said, “not only from the standpoint of the wood supply and the benefits to our customer base, but we have a state and a college that are going to help develop young people with the skill sets that we know our industry needs.” Shotbolt added: “This is all just wonderful news—for the area, for our business and for our customers.” n 28 surfaceandpanel.com � CONTINUED FROM PAGE 27 The Grayling plant is the second major greenfield panel- production project for the Shotbolts. The first plant was built by Flakeboard in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in 1996 and included the world’s first 10-foot continuous board pro- duction line. Flakeboard, which started in 1960 with a pilot plant in St. Stephen, New Brunswick; was known for innova- tion in new equipment, largely because of a partnership with machinery manufacturer Bison. In 2006, Flakeboard bought Weyerhaeuser’s composite panel business and its six mills and became the largest composite panel producer in North America. The Shotbolts feel fortunate to be involved in another major greenfield project that could help reshape a region, and they are grateful to be a part of ARAUCO. “One of the biggest attributes of ARAUCO is their willingness to invest,” Kevin said. “They are continually looking at provid- ing capital to their facilities. They consistently want to update and become more efficient, and the new facility in Grayling is a shining example of this.” ARAUCO is a global producer of wood products, supplying pulp, lumber, plywood, composite panels and moulding. After expanding in Chile, Argentina and Brazil, it bought Flakeboard to continue its growth in North America. After the Flakeboard purchase, ARAUCO had manufacturing facilities in St. Stephen, New Brunswick; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Albany, Oregon; Eugene, Oregon; Bennettsville, South Carolina; Malvern, Arkansas, and Moncure, North Carolina. The Grayling plant was the logical next piece to the North American puzzle. “We really wanted to have particleboard, MDF and melamine in every geographical region in North America,” Shotbolt said. “With Ʌ履ݔݽeЁٔѼ͕ɱ́ɽѡ)MѡЁѼ5ͽфȁɽ=ɕѼ5ݔ)ٔȀԁ啅̸Qӊéٕ䁥Ёѕɴ)=ȁ́ѼЁɸѥɐ5͕́)ٕɕѼѱ䁅х͕ٔȁɽݥ)ѽȁ͔t)QɅ履аݡݥ䁅Ѐݥɔ) =9Q%9U=8A(I9I%9LM!=\]!P)IU