Laminated timber manufacturer to open plant in Conway, will support Walmart home office construction

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 3,395 views 

Structurlam Mass Timber Corp., a company selected to help build Walmart’s expansive new corporate campus in Bentonville, will expand into the United States with a $90 million investment in an existing building in Conway that will open in 2021.

Officials with Structurlam, based in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, made the announcement Monday (Dec. 9) with Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of Walmart Corporate Affairs. The new facility is expected to create 130 jobs in a facility once operated by Nucor. The company, which makes structural laminated wood components for walls, roofs, floors, beams and columns, will use softwood lumber from Arkansas-grown Southern Pine trees.

“The mid-rise commercial and residential building industry is experiencing a revolution brought on by the rise of mass timber building solutions,” Hardy Wentzel, CEO of Structurlam, said in the statement provided by the Arkansas Department of Commerce. “At Structurlam, we’re transforming wood, one of nature’s most renewable resources, into a greener, more cost-effective, and aesthetically-pleasing alternative to concrete and steel. We’re proud to establish roots in the great state of Arkansas and the City of Conway, and support Walmart as the exclusive supplier of mass timber products for its new home office campus.”

According to Structurlam, an economic benefit of mass timber is the ability to design, model and prefabricate the structural elements of a project offsite, accelerating on-site production schedules by up to 25% compared to traditional onsite building with steel and concrete. Structurlam is the first manufacturer to bring mass timber to the North American market.

“Our new location will answer the demand for mass timber building products in the southern, central and eastern United States, and complements our British Columbia operation serving the Canadian, Pacific Northwest, California and Intermountain markets,” Wentzel said.

Gov. Hutchinson said access to timberland and a workforce made the state a viable option for Structurlam.

“With 19 million acres of available forestland and a skilled workforce that is second to none, Arkansas is the natural choice for Structurlam’s first expansion into the United States,” the governor said in a statement. “We are excited about the technology and the additional opportunities for growth Structurlam brings with it to Arkansas. The company’s partnership with Walmart is an example of how this expansion will benefit our state’s timber industry.”

Walmart will be the first customer for the Conway site, with plans to use more than 1.1 million cubic feet of product made from Arkansas timber, noted the Arkansas Department of Commerce statement. The Bentonville-based retailer also has an investment in Structurlam, although the amount was not disclosed.

“Structurlam is uniquely positioned to deliver its innovative approach to digital design collaboration and mass timber manufacturing to Walmart and the State of Arkansas.” said Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of Walmart Corporate Affairs. “With their help we are able to realize our goal of connecting our associates with nature and the beauty of Arkansas through our new Home Office project.”

Walmart first announced in September 2017 plans to build a new corporate headquarters campus near the existing headquarters in Bentonville. The project will be built in phases, and company officials said at the time that construction will take between 5 to 7 years.

Bartlett included more details about how the new headquarters campus would highlight “the Natural Beauty of Arkansas,” in a Monday blog post.