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EDITORIAL: Tucker's innovation pays off in jobs

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Good as it was to see the new sawmill at C.M. Tucker Lumber Co. on St. Patrick’s Day, it was even better to see what else was all around: people working. As a two-hour tour of the operations showed, Tucker Lumber has innovated and adapted to the worst housing market in decades and stayed on top of the pressure-treated lumber supply market. One of the largest lumber treating operations at a single site in the country, Tucker Lumber ships 13,000 truck loads of wood a year. Across the country, lumber that contractors and do-it-yourselfers buy at Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers comes with a Tucker Lumber Co. stamp from Pageland, S.C. The new sawmill, built over the past year in a project spearheaded by Mark Tucker, is will mostly make fence posts and lumber but can make special orders, too. The thoroughly automated mill can sort, debark and saw 2,000 logs in an eight-hour shift. The byproducts, including the bark, chips and sawdust, are all recycled, either on site or for use by paper mills, landscapers and poultry farms. “Once the tree is cut down everything gets used,” David Tucker said. If the mill and yard are as modern as can be, C.M. Tucker Lumber Companies is the kind of throwback we wish we had more of. In an age of foreign manufacturing of everything from computer chips to furniture, Tucker remains a leader because of its efficiency, timely delivery and longstanding reputation for quality. In an age of investor-owned corporations, where decisions on everything from payroll to community donations to Christmas decorations are made in a far-off corporate headquarters, Tucker Lumber remains a family owned corporation with deep roots locally. Money that’s made here is spent here or reinvested here, as the sawmill illustrates. At any time, a visitor is likely to run into three generations of Tuckers at the company’s modest corporate headquarters on North Pearl Street. Carl M. Tucker III runs it now, with major assists from Mark, manufacturing; David, purchasing; Andrew, sales; and Paul, sales. The new mill enabled the company to add 12 jobs, bringing its work force to 245. Another benefit of the new sawmill is that the local mill becomes one more source for the timber that grows abundantly in the area, meaning that money paid for a new fence in Richmond or Atlanta could go into the pocket of a forest owner here. The familiar aroma of the lumberyard and routine sighting of Tucker’s rigs on the road remind us that Tucker Lumber Co., founded by Pageland pioneer Carl Millon Tucker in 1920, is poised to remain innovative and profitable as it lumbers toward its centennial.