Anthony Timberlands, Inc.
Formed by John Ed Anthony in 1974, Anthony Timberlands, Inc. (ATI) operates five mills in southern Arkansas and also provides consulting services to private timberland owners and management services to other private companies. ATI’s operating principles derive from the knowledge and experience of various branches of the Anthony family during the twentieth century.
The Anthony family first settled in southern Arkansas in the 1840s. In 1907, Garland Anthony started a small sawmill near Bearden (Ouachita County). Other members of the family, along with outside partners, started similar operations in southern Arkansas, eastern Texas, and northern Louisiana. Between 1910 and 1930, Garland and his brothers Frank, William, and Oliver formed Anthony Brothers Lumber and built their first permanent mill in Hopeville (Calhoun County), accumulating 2,000 acres of cut-over timberland in the process. The brothers built their mills in areas that large companies had harvested and left behind. They discovered that a cut-over pine forest in southern Arkansas could renew itself in twenty to thirty years and could become self-sustaining if properly managed. The company became a leader in the techniques of selective harvesting—giving smaller trees time to mature so the forest could be harvested repeatedly over the long term.
During the 1930s, Anthony Brothers Lumber was reputed to be the largest private lumber manufacturer in the world, operating twenty or thirty mills in partnership with others. In time, Garland Anthony’s son Edwin joined him in the operation of mills located in various small communities in southern Arkansas and eastern Texas. By the 1950s, Bearden had become the focus of family operations. Upon Edwin Anthony’s death in 1961, his son, John Ed, left law school and returned home to run the business.
In 1974, John Ed Anthony acquired the Hot Spring County Lumber Company and its landholdings in Malvern (Hot Spring County) and created Anthony Timberlands, Inc. (ATI). Within two years, ATI acquired the Hollicer-Jones Lumber Company in Benton (Saline County) along with its land holdings. In the 1980s, Frizzell Lumber Company in Gurdon (Clark County) and International Paper’s mill in Beirne (Clark County) were acquired by ATI. Bearden Lumber Company remained in family ownership under ATI management until fully acquired by ATI in 2006. Headquarters were always in Bearden, less than three miles from Garland Anthony’s original mill. John Ed Anthony focused on quality and modernization to build mills that provide a variety of products for both domestic and overseas customers. During these years, timberland acquisition continued, with acreage owned by ATI and other family partnerships growing from 70,000 acres in 1961 to 180,000 acres owned and 30,000 outside acres managed by 2006.
Sister companies Anthony Hardwood Composites in Sheridan (Grant County), Anthony Wood Treating in Hope (Hempstead County), Anthony-Higgs Lumber Company in Gurdon, and Anthony Oak Flooring in Magnolia (Columbia County) were formed as private entities under ATI’s management umbrella. Anthony Hardwood Composites is a laminating facility that utilizes low-grade kiln-dried hardwood lumber to make engineered industrial matting for the support of heavy equipment where ground conditions are soft and platforms for construction, pipelines, and electrical towers and supports are needed. Anthony Wood Treating, built in 1987, produces treated wood for outdoor applications, like decking, landscape timbers, and fencing. Its treating processes adhere to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines.
The Benton mill was consolidated into the Malvern plant in 1980, and production expanded. The Frizzell mill was consolidated into the modernized and expanded Beirne mill, with Frizzell converted to Anthony-Higgs Lumber, a hardwood concentration facility. The Bearden and Malvern mills produce pine framing lumber, timbers, and decking. The Beirne mill produces hardwood lumber products, primarily oak, with timber from the bottomlands of the Ouachita, Saline, and Little rivers and area creeks. Associated with the Beirne mill are log-storage facilities in East Camden (Ouachita County) and Rockport (Hot Spring County), as well as drying facilities at Fordyce (Dallas County). The company purchased a hardwood sawmill in Magnolia in 2017 and hardwood sawmill/chip mill in Mount Holly (Union County) in 2018.
The ATI’s timberland management team is headquartered in Bearden. Its staff of about ten graduate foresters advises timberland owners, without cost, to promote multiple-use concepts to optimize land use. The company’s pine and treated wood sales office is in Arkadelphia (Clark County). In normal operation, ATI has about 750 direct employees working in the mills and offices. Contractors who service the mills total about 400: 250 in logging, 100 in trucking, and 50 in security.
In January 2023, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that hydraulic fluid from the Anthony sawmill in Malvern had been leaking into a nearby creek, prompting an investigation by state and federal officials. Area residents reported that the industrial pollution of the creek had been ongoing for a number of years, and several landowners had filed complaints in 2022, leading to the investigation of the site.
For additional information:
Anthony Timberlands, Inc. http://www.anthonytimberlands.com/ (accessed February 7, 2022).
LaRue, Cristina. “Malvern Sawmill Set to Close for a Month as Spill Probed.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 6, 2023, pp, 1A, 8A. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2023/jan/06/malvern-sawmill-set-to-close-for-a-month-as-spill/ (accessed January 6, 2023).
———. “State Is Checking Cleanup of Oil Leak.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 5, 2023, pp. 1A, 7A. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2023/jan/05/state-federal-officials-investigate-spill-from/ (accessed January 6, 2023).
Swayne, Sharon. “Generation Building: A Profile of a Traditional Forest Products Business.” Silva 2 (Winter 1995): 20–24.
George W. Balogh
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