Log export facility in operation
Louisiana, Mississippi growers have new market outlet

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent

Ralph Stewart Logging export facility began operation in Port Allen in late Janurany, for operseas markets.

"Our first load of logs will be arriving bright and early Monday morning, January 27th," Ralph Stewart told the Piney Woods Journal. Here is a 12 acre parcel on the northern outskirts of Port Allen, Louisiana at the intersection of East/West Highway US 190 and North/South LA Hwy 1.

"We are paying a very competitive price for logs. I think that loggers can bring wood into our staging area from at least a hundred mile drive from Port Allen and still make money. The logging contractors who bring their logs to us will get their money each week."

All pine logs brought to the Stewart Logging staging area that meet specifications as to length, diameter (minimum 8 inches) and quality will eventually be loaded on an ocean-going vessel and shipped to the Far East. It takes about one thousand 18-wheeler loads of logs to fill one ocean going vessel.

"We hope to get upwards of 50 loads of logs a day to start," Stewart acknowledged. "We believe that our export operation is going to be just one more timber outlet for Louisiana and Mississippi loggers and timber growers."

Stewart is from Amite, Louisiana in Tangipahoa Parish. He worked for a few other forestry contractors before branching out on his own. Stewart grew up in a timber and logging oriented family, so the forest industry has been a vital part of his long career.

"This has not been a one-man effort to get this operation up and going. The people here in West Baton Rouge have been very helpful. Greg Watts, Mike and Lloyd Wild have also been very helpful, as has been Cajun Wood. I couldn't ask for better cooperation from within the industry."

Ralph Stewart Logging, LLC acquired the 12.5 acres and a 25,000 square foot warehouse with office space the last week of December 2013. The location previously housed Louisiana Scrap Metal, a business icon in the area for many years before they recently moved to a larger and newer facility near the Port of Baton Rouge. The purchase price for the facility and acreage cost Ralph Stewart Logging, LLC, $1.75 million.

"Lumber manufacturers in China, India, New Zealand, and other Asian countries finally realized the strength and durability of Southern Pine timber," Stewart related. "Once they figured out that our pine lumber was strong and easy to work with, the demand for our Southern Yellow Pine has increased steadily in the last few years."

"I think the overseas demand for our pine will continue to increase over the next five to ten years. I think the export opportunities for our pine logs are a win-win for everyone involved, from the tree farmers to the loggers and truckers. The demand for pine timber has been down for several years here in the USA, so this export business comes at a great time for the forest industry," Stewart continued.

The Stewart Log Yard will stage and fumigate the logs before they are shipped overseas. The fumigation process is necessary to make sure that no bugs or other pests are along for the ride in the logs to other countries. The Stewart facility in Port Allen is capable of handling enough timber annually to load 20-24 ships in the 30-40,000 metric ton class. Twenty ship loads of logs would require up wards of 20,000 trucks loads of southern pine logs to be harvested and hauled to the Port Allen facility.

"I'm really excited about this opportunity for the forest industry in our area," Stewart concluded. "It will be a benefit to a lot of forestry people. We will be open for business on Monday morning, January 27, 2014."