New Brunswick

Flakeboard takeover could mean more St. Stephen jobs

The mayor of St. Stephen is optimistic that the pending takeover of one of the town's major employers by one of the largest forestry companies in the world could mean more jobs for the community.

The mayor of St. Stephen is optimistic about the pending takeover of one of the town's major employers by one of the largest forestry companies in the world.

St. Stephen Mayor John Quartermain said he believes the Flakeboard acquisition could mean more jobs for the community.

Flakeboard Company Ltd., is being purchased by Chilean-based Arauco as part of a $250-million deal that could be finalized within eight weeks.

About 250 people currently work at Flakeboard, which makes particle and medium-density fibreboard products that are used to build cabinets and furniture.

St. Stephen Mayor John Quartermain is hoping Arauco will expand the Flakeboard plant and create new jobs. (CBC)

St. Stephen relies on those jobs, said Quartermain.

He said he is hoping Arauco will not only maintain those positions, but eventually expand its operations and create new ones.

"In the Town of St. Stephen we're going to do anything we can … to encourage them to stay in St. Stephen," said Quartermain.

"Anything that's within our power, we'd be happy to do it, to make sure they stay here."

Arauco employs about 35,000 people worldwide.

Could open new sales channels

Dale Weeks, president of the town's Chamber of Commerce, said he is also hopeful about what the takeover could mean for the border community of about 5,000 people.

"Arauco is a world-class company with a presence and markets all over North America, South America, Asia, Europe," he said.

"I think that the size of the company alone, and their desire to take a leadership position in whatever they undertake, is a positive thing for St. Stephen and Flakeboard."

The St. Stephen operation is one of seven Flakeboard plants across North America being purchased by Arauco.

Although the deal is still waiting on regulatory approval in Canada and the United States, the hope is it will open up new sales channels for its products.

In 2008, a troubled housing market in the United States led to 42 layoffs at the Flakeboard factory in St. Stephen.

Its new owner is hoping to capitalize when that market recovers.

Kelly Shotbolt, the president of Flakeboard, told CBC News there are no plans to close any of the factories, or reduce the workforce.

But he says it's too early to say whether Arauco will expand the plant in St. Stephen.

 The deal is still waiting for regulatory approval.