OSKALOOSA — Second Congressional District Congressman Dave Loebsack visited Iowa Wood Preservers (IWP) in Oskaloosa Tuesday afternoon.

Loebsack met with management and employees, then took a tour of the plant.

IWP was founded in the year 2000 when Central Nebraska Wood Preservers was looking to expand into new territory. Formerly Indiana Wood Preservers , the plant was purchased when it only had two buildings.

Today, they’ve expanded into a multi-million dollar company that treats over 20 million board feet per year in 12 buildings with 20 employees.

IWP provides pressure treated lumber and manufactured products wholesale to the state of Iowa, surrounding states and various national customers. IWP wholesale supply chains include BlueLinx, Frontier Forest Products, and Hutchison Lumber & Building Products.

The crux of their business is residential material for various wholesalers and distribution to lumber yards. They also provide industrial-level treatment for farmers and government projects. IWP is the sole provider of such lumber treatment in the states of Iowa and Nebraska.

Loebsack’s meeting with management covered topics that included industry, business, and employees.

When Loebsack asked Jeremy Jorgenson, the general manager, what accounts for the significant growth in IWP’s business, Jorgensen said, “Increasing market share, along with developing new market lines like guardrails, which grew out of a deal with Dallas-based Trinity Industries.“

IWP’s general counsel, Nick Sowl, added, “We now provide all the wood parts for the guardrail posts or blocks, especially in Colorado where they don’t use the steel or composite materials. Frankly, we could make anything when it comes to the guardrail wood components, Trinity has 250 part formations, so it’s basically just a hole here or there and we could do it.”

For his part, the congressman offered to emphasize the importance of infrastructure projects with his constituents, particularly those where guardrail construction is required.

“It’s mainly the state highway projects that could help us. When the funding is approved and money flows through to the states, it would be a big help for our business,” said Sowl.

Loebsack was also interested in hearing about other emerging markets that were fueling the expansion of IWB’s business.

Jorgenson cited fire retardant materials as another key factor.

“The new fire retardant product line we have arose from the increased demand resulting from stricter fire codes and insurance regulations for commercial buildings,” he said, “especially in areas like California where wildfires are prevalent.”

Jorgenson added that the residential builders and construction companies also have a stake in the fire retardant product line, but mainly in the context of maintaining affordable prices while staying compliant with local building regulations.

Another topic of discussion about regulation focused on how IWP’s products are monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Any sort of water runoff can become a cause for monitoring by the EPA because our residential material lumber is treated with copper to prevent wood decay,” said Sowl, “so the EPA and the DNR have strict standards for the parts per million concentration of the chemicals we use.”

Loebsack complimented the management team on the closed loop system in place that re-uses the treatment materials, rather than recycling them. Jorgenson demonstrated exactly how that system works when they toured the plant.

The employees also helped demonstrate how the plant sears their company’s own “brand” as a label right into the wood.

“We were in Breckenridge, Colorado and we stopped along some bike trails to examine the guardrail wood and we could see it was Iowa wood because we saw our seared label on it,” said Sowl.

There was plenty of discussion about the the impact that weather has had on the industry, especially this past year.

“It seems that with all the rain we’ve seen in recent months that things have slowed down more, and now the materials supply is back up,” said Finance Director Emily Jorgenson.

In his closing remarks, Loebsack thanked all of the employees and encouraged the management team to stay true to their key goals of increasing their growth in market share and expanding their product lines.

Learn more about Iowa Wood Preservers at www.iowawood.com.

Oskaloosa Herald Staff Writer Richard Rindt can be reached at rrindt@oskyherald.com

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