SmartLam, the first commercial manufacturers of cross-laminated timber (CLT) in the U.S., has officially opened its new production facility in Columbia Falls, Montana – an expansion of its existing operations and headquarters there.
Located on the site of a former Weyerhaeuser lumber mill, the 145,000-square-foot plant will allow SmartLam to quadruple its CLT production to nearly three million cubic feet per year. The expansion will add 75 employees and help the company develop new types of engineered wood.
“As more architects and builders learn about the performance and efficiency of CLT, demand for our products has accelerated rapidly,” Casey Malmquist, president and general manager of SmartLam, said. “We have been looking for the right location to continue to grow our company as we launched it, mindful of the available resources, positioned optimally to receive locally-sourced raw materials, and accessible to multiple modes of transportation. This site is the right home for us.”
Montana Governor Steve Bullock visited the plant during a grand opening event earlier this week.
Cross-laminated timber is a solid, large scale, prefabricated, engineered wood panel typically made of multiple layers glued to form structural panels with enhanced strength, rigidity, and dimensional stability.
CLT advocates say it can be used to construct buildings of equal strength and fire-resistance as those made of steel and concrete. It has also fueled the passions of architects and environmentalists, who believe it to be a much greener method for housing the world’s growing population.
Due to CLT’s benefits for carbon capture and reduced CO2 emissions in construction, CLT has sparked interest worldwide. The production of CLT has the potential to create significant job growth across the Pacific Northwest, according to a study published this summer in Oregon.
SmartLam sources wood for its manufacturing processes from regional forest vendors within 200 miles of its Columbia Falls plant and produces more than one million board feet of CLT each month, according to officials.