Suwannee Lumber: A Commitment to Strengthening a Community
Every so often in business, you get a chance to do really well and really good. Blue Wolf’s partnership with Suwannee Lumber Company is an example of one of those chances.
Back in 2013, in the wake of the financial crisis, we acquired a majority stake in Suwannee, which is located in Dixie County, Florida — one of the least populated and lowest income counties in the state. It was a family-run business that had been around for more than 60 years. It offered dependable jobs and wages to men and women throughout the county.
But Suwannee was hurting. It faced myriad challenges, from environmental issues to a lack of modernization, to a tough economy.
While other investors may have seen a major challenge, Blue Wolf saw a big opportunity. We believed that with capital investment and a smart plan to develop the team, modernize the mill, and expand operations, we could put Suwannee on sound footing and ensure it remains a pillar of the community for generations to come.
Blue Wolf may be a firm on Wall Street, but our overarching view is that by doing the right thing on Main Streets across the country, we can build better businesses nationwide, build bridges that bring people together, and build trust at a time when that’s lacking in American life.
And that’s what we did with Suwannee.
We rolled up our sleeves and worked with management, the employees, and stakeholders across the community in order to drive sustainable improvements at the company. Last year, we sold Suwannee, along with Caddo River Forest Products in Glenwood, Arkansas to Conifex Timber Inc. This ensures Suwannee is on sound footing for the long term since it is now part of a large public company. This also means that jobs and an engine of economic growth will remain in Dixie County.
This gave us tremendous pride, but it inspired us to do more.
That’s why we announced this week that BW SLC Holdings, LLC, which is majority owned by Blue Wolf, in partnership with the other owners of BW SLC Holdings, LLC (including Frank “Bump” Faircloth and Daniel Dickert) will donate $1 million generated from the proceeds of the sale of Suwannee Lumber Company to local charities in Dixie County over the next five years. The first four donations — totaling $50,000 each — will go towards Dixie County’s Anti-Drug Coalition, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Education Foundation, and Dixie County High School’s AVID program. The first recipients were selected by Frank “Bump” Faircloth, past Chairman and CEO of Suwannee Lumber Company and current Chairman of the Board of BW SLC Holdings, LLC.
Why are we doing this? Because we have a desire to give back to the community that has sustained Suwannee Lumber Company for decades, and to help cultivate new talent and a strong workforce for the company. Businesses — like Suwannee — thrive when its workers are supported and given the resources to perform, and we’ve dedicated ourselves to ensuring that our teams throughout our portfolio companies have what they need to succeed. We feel a special kinship with the men and women who go to work every day at Suwannee.
That’s why we’re so proud of our association with the company. It’s why we care about the long-term sustainability of Suwannee. And it’s why we look forward to working with the community in the years to come.