Uruguay receives transformational investment in the timber industry

U.S. and Uruguayan investors acquire 100% of the sawmill Frutifor Lumber Company in Tacuarembó.
Publication date: 27/04/2021

By acquiring 100% of Frutifor Lumber Company, a sawmill located in Tacuarembó, businessmen Mark Crandall from the United States and Matías Abergo (Enkel Group) from Uruguay, confirm the arrival of Arboreal. This transformative project for Uruguay's timber industry will immediately increase the sawmill's drying capacity, doubling production and therefore exports of processed timber as of the third quarter of 2021.

The investment will also transform Uruguay's timber production matrix and position the country in the global CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) market, as it will implement the largest and most advanced CLT plant in South America. Installation is scheduled for the beginning of 2022. It is estimated that the investment, over USD 20 million during 2021-2022, will generate approximately 45 new jobs in Tacuarembó directly and more than 100 indirectly.

These wood processing systems, also known globally as Mass Timber, will enable the construction of high-rise buildings, houses, housing complexes, sports centers, medical institutions, schools and other projects in Uruguay and the region. Arboreal's investment will therefore contribute to the generation of added value from Uruguay's forest resources, boosting industrial activity in the northern part of the country and promoting the development of environmentally sustainable construction.

The investors plan to carry out massive training in wood construction techniques, both at the architectural level and in the construction process, so that professionals in the areas of architecture, engineering, and construction acquire the necessary knowledge and best practices.

For the investors, Uruguay has very competitive forestry resources to position itself as a reference in the EWP (Engineered Wood Products) market in the region and the world. "We see a country that offers the necessary legal and economic stability to invest in the long term. We are very excited about our investment in Uruguay, and we are grateful for all the support received from the government, its ministries and the advice and support of the Uruguay XXI investment promotion agency," said Enkel Group CEO Matías Abergo.

According to  Industry and Energy Minister Omar Paganini, "this investment is important not only because of its amount and the employment it generates, but also because of its impact on the pine wood value chain, a resource that Uruguay has in abundance and quality, which in this way enables higher value-added stages".

The executive director of Uruguay XXI, Jaime Miller, valued the investment decision as the result of a long process of assisstance to Enkel Group, which began after a forestry tour that Uruguay XXI organized together with the Embassy of Uruguay in Canada in 2019. "Investment decisions take time, it is important to be attentive to the needs of information, liaison with the public and private sector, showing a coordinated work between the different actors of the government at the eyes of the investor. We are happy to have been part of this process that adds value to our exports in the future and positions Uruguay on the road to sustainable construction," said Miller.

Frutifor is a company based in Tacuarembó, Uruguay, that currently processes 140,000 m3 of pine, exports US$25 million annually, and employs 100 people. Mark Crandall is founder of PostScriptum, a private equity firm specializing in renewable energy. Matias Abergo is CEO and co-founder of Enkel Group, a company dedicated to the development and construction of architectural projects, covering different scales and technologies.