Cooper Marine and Timberlands (CMT) celebrates its 20th anniversary this month! Originally part of Kimberly Clark’s Southeast Timberland marine operation and export chip and pole business, Cooper/T. Smith acquired the operation in 1999. Under Cooper/T. Smith’s ownership, CMT has flourished to become a leading provider of marine transportation along the Tennessee-Tombigbee River and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, stevedoring services in the Port of Mobile, and quality timber products to numerous wood-consuming industries in the Southeastern United States.
In 1999 CMT’s operations were comprised of three chip mills producing one-million tons of hardwood chips that could be transported by 9 push boats and 50 barges, or be unloaded, stored and later reloaded to vessel by a land-based gantry crane on the Mobile River. As markets fluctuated, CMT found new growth opportunities to secure its future in the industry.
Marine operations have grown to 18 push boats and more than 250 barges, which are projected to handle approximately 6.5-million tons of bulk cargo in 2019. This year also marks a milestone for CMT’s Marine Operations – it will receive its first ever new build: a 3,400 HP, 110 ft. x 33 ft. push boat being constructed by Blakeley BoatWorks.
Timber Operations consist of an experienced timber procurement staff in Creola, Alabama, and Dennis, Mississippi. CMT acquires standing timber from landowners, then harvests and sells these products to paper mills and sawmills. Operating five portable in-woods chippers and one permanent chip mill site in Dennis, CMT annually produces 1.1 million tons of hardwood and pine chips for sale to domestic paper companies. CMT also manages wood yard operations for several pulp and paper companies in Southwest Alabama. In total, Timber Operations produce 2.7 million tons from chip productions, handling at wood yards, and other products harvested and sold by the timber procurement team. The company recently entered the lumber industry by acquiring the Carrollton Sawmill in Carrollton, Alabama, a pine mill specializing in producing one-inch rough-cut lumber for domestic and export markets.
CMT’s Stevedoring Operation, often referred to as ChipCo, has grown from a single crane to five cranes, including four barge-mounted derrick cranes. Port terminals include 35 acres of storage area for reload to ship or barge, and a Reclaim and Conveyor System at the port provides loading of wood pellets from bottom-dump truck vans into covered barges for storage while awaiting loading to ocean-going vessels for export.
The company has developed drastically over the span of 20 years, staking a claim and becoming a leader in multiple industries. Mindful of its past and focused on its present, CMT keeps an eye on the future as it strives to continually adapt and remain a leader in an ever-changing industry.
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