Allegheny Wood Products to Start Pellet Company

A lumber company in Preston County is branching out into a new industry and creating new jobs. Allegheny Wood Products has started a second company, Appalachian Wood Pellets, to produce wood pellets used as heating fuel in residential pellet stoves. John Crites II is president of both, even though Appalachian Wood Pellets is a separate […]

A lumber company in Preston County is branching out into a new industry and creating new jobs. Allegheny Wood Products has started a second company, Appalachian Wood Pellets, to produce wood pellets used as heating fuel in residential pellet stoves. John Crites II is president of both, even though Appalachian Wood Pellets is a separate company.

“This is the first time our company has entered the energy market,” said Donna Reckart, the companies’ public affairs director. “We will be using our own raw material, which is sawdust, so it’s value added to what we do at the moment. It’s a biomass industry that you hear about every day.”

The completely automated wood pellet manufacturing plant will operate 24 hours a day and create 10 permanent, full-time jobs with benefits, Reckart said.

Officials anticipate the plant will start production in 30 or 45 days, she said.

“The Preston County Economic Development Authority is always excited to hear about plant expansions and new construction in our county,” EDA Executive Director Roberta Baylor said. “With wood products companies continuing to struggle in this economy, I am happy that Allegheny Wood Products has chosen to implement a new process to make wood pellets. This facility expands their product line which creates new jobs in Preston County and strengthens the tax base.”

Appalachian Wood Pellets will buy sawdust to make pellets from Allegheny Wood Products. Conveyor belts will carry it from the mill to the plant, Reckart said. Later, if it’s feasible, sawdust might be trucked in from Allegheny Wood Products’ other mills. But for now, those operations will continue doing with their sawdust what they have done in the past.

The sawdust was not going to waste before; this is just a new use for it.

“We burn a lot of our sawdust at the other facilities to produce heat for our dry kilns so we don’t have to use natural gas to fire them,” Reckart said, adding that some of the sawdust is sold to the Kingsford Co. to make charcoal.

Reckart said Don Wagner, who is helping build the plant, has a background in the pellet industry. Once it goes online, he will run it and take the product to market through distributors. Customers will not be able to buy pellets directly at the plant.

Founded in 1973, Allegheny Wood Products Inc. is a family-owned company. The Petersburg-headquartered hardwood lumber producer operates mills in Preston, Randolph, Pendleton and Mercer counties in West Virginia and in Clarion County, Pa. Kingwood is its largest facility, Reckart said, and that’s why Allegheny chose to locate the pellet plant there.

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