• Maryland Forests

OLD MILL GIVEN NEW LIFE

Results of the Former Cropper Brothers Lumber Auction


Willards, Maryland, December 8, 2020- It's not often that a sawmill goes to auction and avoids the chopping block, but that is exactly what happened this time. The former Croppers Brothers Lumber was purchased in its entirety and will resume operation in early 2021. As a crowd of interested parties watched, several bidders battled it out online and person to get the opportunity to enter the forest products industry, a lucrative endeavor for someone that is up for the challenge. The lucky winner was Ezra Rickards, a young entrepreneur who purchased the mill and land at the sale. Mr. Rickards says, "he will be working with equipment manufacturers and other experts in the industry to make repairs and upgrades to the facility." He hopes that reopening the mill will revitalize timber markets in the region by providing another outlet for landowners and loggers. While the lumber business is new to Mr. Rickards, he isn't new to the business world. He currently owns and operates a large auto body shop in Millsboro, DE. The name of the new operation will be Delmarva Lumber.

The former Cropper Brothers Lumber began operations in Willards in 1965, providing local jobs and markets for timberland owners while producing lumber, pilings, chips, and animal bedding. The operation closed in November 2017 and has been in receivership with the Farmers Bank of Willards ever since. Before going to auction, the bank explored several other options to find a buyer because they realize the vital role the sawmill plays in the rural economy. Matthew Davis, a spokesperson for the bank, said, "we couldn't be happier to see the sawmill reopen in Willards. Any opportunity to bring jobs back to Wicomico County is a win for the community. With the shortage of mills on Delmarva, I'm sure landowners and the timber industry will share our enthusiasm. In today's environment, it would be virtually impossible to build a new mill from scratch, making this a once-in-a-lifetime chance for someone with the vision and drive to succeed. Luckily today, we found that person, and we at The Farmers Bank of Willards are committed to doing whatever it takes to support the new owner as they re-build this storied operation."

Harold Scrimgeour was among the observers at the auction. He said, "after 25 years of sawmill closings, it was absolutely amazing to witness the Cropper Brothers sell to an individual that plans on operating the mill. This is a great day for the forestry industry as well as woodland owners. I hope that regulators from across the bridge understand how important adding this mill is for forest management, keeping land in forestry, and creating jobs for the Eastern Shore." Beth Hill, Executive Director of MFA, also in attendance, said," this is a win for forest landowners and loggers on the shore. Our organization is committed to the growth and retention of the forest products industry and is looking forward to helping make this operation a success." MFA is Maryland's voice for forest, wildlife, and natural resource management.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact:

Beth Hill, Executive Director

Maryland Forests Association

410-463-1755


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