April 9, 2018
Interviewed by: Privcap
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A Forest Products Company Grows Tall

The story of how private equity firm Blue Wolf Capital Partners executed on a plan of sustainable value creation for Caddo River Forest Products.

The story of how private equity firm Blue Wolf Capital Partners executed on a plan of sustainable value creation for Caddo River Forest Products.

A Forest Products Company Grows Tall

Charles Miller, Blue Wolf Capital Partners:
We tend to tackle very complex, multi-constituency projects, as I like to say, from the unloved loved to the deeply distressed.

Robert McKagen, Caddo River Forest Products:
Glenwood’s a small community about an hour and a half from Little Rock, and those people there  really relied on that sawmill that was there that opened up in the early ’70s. Once they heard our story and heard our vision in that we were operating a mill in Florida, Suwannee River, they became excited, and once we shared the vision with them, had a town hall out at the mill, probably had over 50 to 75 people, shared the story, and from then on it’s just been game on.

Miller: Blue Wolf was the first private equity firm to successfully invest in a family-owned Southern Yellow Pine mill, and through that investment, we had expertise management resources and a network of vendors that gave us an advantage. The large public forest products companies didn’t have the skillset to do what we did at Caddo, which is to do a restart.

Where we started was with the mayor, with the county judge, with the county commissioners. Bob McKagen went to the mill site early on. They were going to have a lunch with three or four people at the local café in town, and by the time the lunch started, there were 20 people there.

McKagen: My philosophy going into Glenwood, Arkansas at the very beginning was to hire from the local community. We thought we were going to have to have a job fair prior to working up towards production. We didn’t have to do a job fair.

Miller: Even with the small amount of activity that was going on at the mill, they’d had 150 applications where people drove to the mill, went to the security gate, and said, “Can I have an application?” This area is mostly an agricultural economy. It’s people that we know had a work ethic, so when you combine the number of applications, the economy around the area, and the fact that there were a number of the people that had worked at the mill that continued to work in the industry, they just drove farther to their job, we were very confident that we could attract the workforce.

I’ve told anybody that wants to hear it, that’s, other than meeting my wife and having my children, this is my greatest accomplishment. You don’t get this opportunity very often to help people and to make money. Right? Like you actually get to do something really good, and it’s profitable. That’s a very unique combination.

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