Synchronized energy focus of company purchase

Published 2:43 pm Friday, July 25, 2008

Employees at Seaman Timber Company in Montevallo met their new boss last Friday at a company barbecue in their honor.

Boatright Enterprises, a railroad maintenance company, acquired the family-owned business, which produces crossties for railroads, earlier this month. President Shane Boatwright said the two companies were a natural fit.

“The purchase of crossties is one of largest capital expenditures for our company,” Boatright said. “Bringing Seaman into the mix allows for a great synergy in our work flow.”

The Montevallo plant includes two sawmills, a planer mill, pallet shop, crosstie and switch tie handling, air-drying operation, pressure treating and more. The company also includes Kingfisher Inc., a chip mill in Linden; Seaman Timber Company in Centreville and Seaman Timber Company Castleberry, a sawmill in south Alabama.

J.C. Chism joined Seaman seven years ago. He said hearing that the company was being sold was a bit nerve wracking at first.

“Nobody likes change you know, but I think it turned out to be for the best,” Chism said. “In fact, I think things are going to get better.”

Boatright said he envisions higher productivity in the plant’s future — offering the reassurance many employees seek.

“Our goal and objective is to increase the capacity of the plant to its fullest potential,” Boatright said. “As we increase production, it’s likely that we will also add on more personnel.”

Seaman Timber currently employs 100 people and produces approximately 800,000 crossties for railroad construction and maintenance. Reaching the plant’s full capacity would mean pushing out 1.5 million of the product each year.

James D. Seaman created the company in 1955 and built it up to include 250 employees and annual sales of $55 million at its peak.

“We have no intention of changing the name,” Boatright said. “Seaman’s has such a rich history. Plus, it’s a premium brand, and that’s what our customers expect.”

William Hoggle of Six Mile has worked at Seaman for 30 years, half of his and the company’s lives.

“I think it’s a pretty good thing,” Hoggle said. “I hope it will be better for everybody. I know business is picking up real good now.”

Boatright pointed out that the economy is currently good for the rail industry.

“The reason why railroads are so strong is because a locomotive engine is pulling 500 rail cars filled with merchandise behind it when a truck going down the highway only has one container. You’re getting a tremendous bang for your buck,” Boatright said.

He said since most people don’t cross railroads every day they don’t realize that 50 percent of commodities continue to be moved in that fashion.