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Chesley wood plant to reopen PDF Print E-mail
Written by HGO Staff   

CHESLEY, Ontario (30 January 2012) - The former Durham Furniture dining room factory here has been sold to GRS Wood Products Inc., a hardwood flooring distributor, according to the mayor of Arran-Elderslie, the Bruce County municipality that is home to this village some 150 kilometres north-west of Toronto.

"Arran-Elderslie has waited a long time for this announcement and we are looking forward to working with GRS to bring the plant up to full capacity as soon as possible," said Mayor Paul Eagleson said in a statement.

The facility was built by Durham Furniture in 2003 at a cost of $38 million, including approximately $8 million for the 147,500 square foot building. Another $30 million was spent on new equipment and technology. When it was opened in 2004, its most noteworthy feature were the eight state-of-art kilns capable of drying some 70,000 board feet of hardwood every 11 days.

At the time, Durham intended to use the plant to build dining room, home office, home entertainment and youth furniture. This was about the time the Canadian dollar began appreciating against its U.S. counterpart, seriously impairing Durham's growth plans. The Chesley plant was mothballed in early 2008 just prior to Durham seeking court protection for what turned out to be a successful restructuring effort.

The Chinese-owned GRS Wood Products is a hardwood flooring distributor operating out of a 44,000 square foot warehouse in Toronto. The company owns two plants in China, which currently produce the 150 floor products it offers to retailers in this country.

"We understand the plan is to start with 50 employees from the local area to begin operating the wood kilns and make the plant ready to manufacture engineered hardwood flooring," Eagleson said, adding GRS is currently seeking visas for about 20 employees from its plant in China. These people will then train the new staff to fire up the kilns and begin production.

"The company has indicated that they plan to grow to over 300 employees over the next few years," Arran-Elderslie clerk Peggy Rouse said, adding, "it will take time to install the right machinery and train their employees."

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