Building or expanding your sawmill? We’re here to help
By Corey Bounds, Risk Assessment Director
What’s next for the lumber industry? After a year of unprecedented volatility, that’s the question on all of our minds.
Right now, it’s looking like lumber demand and prices will remain high. That means new construction, upgrades and modernizations of sawmills will likely follow. In fact, we’re seeing many established owners who are taking this opportunity to reinvest profits from the past 18 months into upgrading their mills.
While there are plenty of great, long-term rewards in building or expanding a lumber facility, you have a lot of decisions to make from planning to construction and beyond. What you do (or don’t do) early in the process can have an impact down the road. Making smart choices has the potential to save you thousands in insurance premiums or claims.
Did you know that Continental Underwriters, Inc. can help? Underwriting Division Lead Andrew Belcher and I are glad to have a conversation about the best ways to improve safety and reduce your insurance costs. It’s never too early to involve us in the process, even if your project is still a scribble on a napkin. Here are a few things we suggest you consider, as we’re on the side of trying to save you money.
It’s a good time to be in the sawmill business
A year ago, single-family home construction reached an “unsustainably hot pace,” sending lumber prices to historic highs. That pace cooled down slightly in the fall, as we all experienced labor and supply shortages.
But what about the long term? Experts predict construction will have a good, healthy run. That’s because several trends are colliding:
- The number of new and existing homes for sale — especially starter homes — is at a historic low.
- Many of the 72 million millennials are finally ready to buy their first homes.
- Mortgage rates remain low.
So, now might be a really good time for owners to invest in mills to better meet that demand. And consider how equipment upgrades could be a way to jumpstart any production that you’ve had to pause because of fewer workers.
A timely, thoughtful investment can help owners come out the other side well-positioned for success.
While we can’t design your new or upgraded facility for you, we can meet with you to review your plans and talk about the downstream insurance impact of certain decisions. These include building placement, fire protection (including sprinkler systems), dust management systems and more.
Most insurance underwriting companies don’t do this. Continental Underwriters does! Our underwriters and risk assessors are constantly putting their heads together to find off-the-beaten-track solutions to benefit our insureds. This helps you plan ahead and choose the insurance protection that best meets your needs and budget.
After working in risk assessment and loss prevention for the forest products industry since 2002, I’ve learned to spot the yellow and red flags. I’ve visited hundreds of mills, familiarizing myself with all kinds of risks — some more obvious and easily identifiable than others. I talk with sawmill owners and employees around the country, explaining the risks and the processes to better manage those risks. Whether you want to build a small milling operation or add on to a more complex facility, I can share my experiences on what you should consider in the planning process.
Eight years ago, Andrew joined Continental Underwriters after graduating with a degree in risk management and finance from Virginia Commonwealth University. While I understand the needs of owners, he speaks fluent brokers’ language, analyzing each client through a lens of insurability.
When I come back and tell Andrew about the potential risks I see at an insured’s facility, he knows exactly what kind of policy can best protect them against those risks — and how an owner can make specific changes that can lead to a better policy. We can offer you this unparalleled insight at any point in the planning, construction or expansion process. That way, you’re best protected from future liabilities.