By Shannon Sneed
The Eatonton Messenger
April 25, 2019
The Putnam Development Authority recently nominated Eatonton’s Interfor for the 2019 Manufacturer of the Year Award. The local business was honored at an April 18 awards ceremony held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. The annual luncheon was part of celebrating Manufacturing Appreciation Week (April 15 – 18), developed by the Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“We are very proud to have Interfor in our community,” Putnam Development Authority Director Terry Schwindler said, noting the PDA was pleased to partner with CGTC to nominate Interfor in the small manufacturer category.
To qualify for the nomination, the business had to demonstrate years of economic growth in the community as well as a commitment to workforce excellence.
The sawmill started in 1974 and was acquired by Interfor in 2013, giving the business nearly 45 years in operation. It provides Southern Yellow Pine lumber, used for various construction and framing needs. Under Interfor, the Dennis Station Road facility grew from 70 full-time employees in March 2014 to 96 fulltime jobs in October 2016 with an investment of $2 million in plant and equipment improvements. By September 2018, the company was operating with 125 full-time jobs, offering leadership training to supervisors, providing EEOC compliance training and monthly safety training that includes OSHA.
Schwindler noted the mill is planning an $87 million equipment replacement/upgrade project in the third quarter of 2019, retaining all 125 positions.
Interfor officials purchase supplies for the mill through local vendors.
Nominees were required to also demonstrate corporate responsibility through company-sponsored community initiatives, civic involvement and educational partnerships.
The development authority recognized Interfor’s show of community support through holding safety dinners, hosting local job fairs at workforce development offices and at the Authority and participating in the Eatonton-Putnam Chamber of Commerce. The company was also honored because of its contributions to Habitat for Humanity; support at local festivals, such as at the annual Putnam County Dairy Festival and Relay for Life; and with programs, such as providing readers for the literacy program at the Eatonton Putnam Library. Showing support for the local education system, Interfor donates wood chips to Putnam County’s elementary and primary schools for playground maintenance each year.
Interfor’s Eatonton sawmill is also the recipient of the 2015 Sawmill Safety Award in Division II, presented by the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA), after the Eatonton facility maintained a perfect safety record during all of 2015, with no lost-time occupational injuries or illnesses. That award was presented in June 2016.