Announced late last year, Freres Lumber says its massive plywood panels (MPP) could be used for floors and walls in multi-story commercial buildings, and they could be made to order. Freres hopes its panels will revolutionise the construction industry.

“We were recently informed that our mass plywood plant was named the Forest Service’s top project in the US,” Freres executive VP Rob Freres said. “This was a competitive process with 114 grant applications submitted for consideration."

Designed to be an alternative to cross-laminated timber, Freres' massive panels can be as much as 12ft wide and 2ft thick. The company says there are many potential benefits: structures made of MPP could be made in days instead of months and use 20-30% less wood than cross-laminated timber and the lightweight nature of MPP could reduce truckload transport costs.

The new 168,000ft2 plant, with construction costs around US$23m, is scheduled to open in January 2018. Freres plans to initially employ 20 full-time workers, and plans to hire 40-60 more in the future.