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Biz Buzz: Trus Joist in Deerwood has new owners

Former Trus Joist plant in Deerwood has new owner

It was a deal that was too good to pass up.

Crow Wing Recycling is the new owner of the former Weyerhaeuser Trus Joist plant in Deerwood. The 225,000-square-foot plant and 440 acres changed hands on Dec. 3.

Grant VanWyngeeren, vice president at Crow Wing Recycling, which his family has owned and expanded since 1996, said they haven’t decided what to do with the plant yet. Crow Wing Recycling’s Brainerd facility is in the industrial park.

Trus Joist employed 158 people and produced engineered strand lumber. In October of 2007, with a housing marking meltdown under way, Weyerhaeuser closed the plant for an indefinite shutdown. The plant reduced its production in a slowdown in 2006. At the time, company officials said they had no intentions of selling and by all appearances intended to reopen the facility when the housing market picked up. No one was guessing then how far the housing market would plunge or the drop into the Great Recession and long, painful recovery that followed. Before the decline in demand for construction materials, Trus Joist was operating on a 24-hour seven-day schedule. Weyerhaeuser also closed oriented strand board plants in Canada when it pulled the plug and mothballed the Deerwood plant. Of course, the housing market didn’t recover and the plant remained shuttered.

VanWyngeeren said the building still has computers on office desks and chairs pulled up next to them as though the workers may return. The purchase, for an undisclosed amount, included all the equipment inside although they are obligated with the purchase to destroy the press.

VanWyngeeren said 17 companies looked at the plant and nine bid on it. Crow Wing Recycling was in a position to bid by a combination of tenacity and chance. VanWyngeeren has been checking on the plant periodically with Weyerhaeuser through emails. In November, his email arrived at just the right time and Weyerhaeuser reported it was accepting bids and wanted to close in December.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for us,” VanWyngeeren said even as he laughed and noted they aren’t sure what the facility will be used for and just what they should be excited about. At this point everything is on the table, VanWyngeeren said.

They have an option to use a portion of the building for their operations and loading finished product on railcars to be shipped to steel mills. And they’ve already been contacted about leasing space in the Deerwood plant and from people interested in the remaining equipment.

Crow Wing Recycling has additional facilities in Pine River and Milaca and reports it is interested in growing its network within a 90-mile radius of Brainerd.

“We’re always looking for ways to expand and ways to grow,” VanWyngeeren said.

The Deerwood plant started production in 1991 with the site originally chosen for availability of aspen and a motivated work force. It was consuming 170,000 cords of wood a year, or 3.85 million tons when it was running at its full operation. Weyerhaeuser, the forest products company incorporated in 1900, had sales of $21.6 billion in 2006. The plant was previously known as MacMillan Bloedel, which modified oriented strand board technology to produce laminated strand lumber, used for framing. MacMillan Bloedel formed a partnership with Trus Joist and became Trus Joist MacMillan. Weyerhaeuser purchased Trus Joist in 2000.

Crow Wing Recycling started with six employees and now employs 55 people in the scrap metal business.

Balsam Lane Christmas Tree Lot moved to a different location this year, moving from the land by Ace Hardware to the East Brainerd Mall parking lot. As of Sunday, Christmas is just eight days away.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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