Arkansas sawmill modernizes forklift fleet thanks to a $25k grant

Arkansas sawmill modernizes forklift fleet thanks to a $25k grant

LEOLA, AR - This is a news release from Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas

When a business employs about 15 percent of a town's residents, delivering a great product and upholding a reputation for excellence are top priorities.

That's the case for HG Toler and Son Lumber Company, located about an hour southwest of Little Rock in Leola, Arkansas, a community of approximately 450 people. With 66 employees, the family-run sawmill operation, established in 1936, is a top employer in Grant County.

Increasing demand for high-quality lumber from wholesaler customers and manufacturers prompted Owner and General Manager John Grigsby to embark on a 10-year mission to modernize his fleet of forklifts. He recently acquired a Taylor X180 forklift as a result of a loan from Malvern National Bank funded by an Economic Development Program (EDP) advance from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and an accompanying $25,000 EDPPlus grant.

"Now with this lift, all the main lifts are less than 10 years old," said Mr. Grigsby. "The fully enclosed cabs allow our operators to be more comfortable and they are protected from the elements."

EDPPlus grants are awarded in conjunction with EDP advances and are available on a first-come, first-served basis to promote and enhance small business development and job creation. Mr. Grigsby's acquisition of the forklift replaces an older model, which he says will increase productivity at the sawmill.

Krista Brown, assistant vice president and lender at Malvern National Bank, worked directly with Mr. Grigsby on the grant application.

"They provide a very good source of income for a low-income area," said Ms. Brown. "HG Toler and Son Lumber Company has been in business in the area for many, many years. The community is very dependent upon them."

In 2015, FHLB Dallas made $1 million available for EDPPlus grants, assisting 50 small businesses in the Bank's five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. In Arkansas, EDPPlus grants totaling $653,596 were awarded to 32 small businesses. In 2016, FHLB Dallas has again offered $1 million in EDPPlus grants.

Mr. Grigsby consulted with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center at Henderson State University, which provided industry research and consulting.

"HG Toler and Son Lumber Company is a successful operation that positively impacts the community in more ways than one," said Leah Hasley, center director. "Malvern National Bank's support of the sawmill through the EDP advance and grant program is a testament to their commitment to developing the economy in our community."

Gustavo Molina, SVP and chief banking operations officer at FHLB Dallas, said the EDP advance and grant program support members in meeting the economic development needs of their communities.

"We're proud to partner with Malvern National Bank in supporting economic development in this area," said Mr. Molina. "Their commitment to the community is supported by their use of the EDP advance and grant program. By offering this program to their customers, they are reinvesting in their community."

Mr. Grigsby honors his company's past by investing in the future. His great-grand father, Homer Toler, was a local store owner in the 1930s and became owner of the business when the original owner gave Mr. Toler the company as payment for a debt. After World War II, Mr. Grigsby's grandfather ran the business until the early 2000s, when Mr. Grigsby stepped in and took over. Now he focuses on expanding on his family's legacy.

"We firmly believe that if you hire a good employee, give him a good piece of equipment to work with, take care of the equipment, as well as the employee, he'll take care of you," he said.