End of an Era – Temple-Inland is Sold to IP
It's official. International Paper has bought out Temple-Inland, and that's not all. IP is already planning to sell off all Temple-Inland facilities. This has everybody in this corner of Texas wondering what's going to happen now.
Will new owners shut everything down and turn Diboll into just one more desolate wide spot on Hwy 59? No one knows.
With close to 500 employees at Temple-Inland in Diboll, an IP official says the company plans to keep the Diboll facilities operating while it looks for “strategic options” for selling those assets.
That means IP will keep the Diboll facilities going to make them "saleable". No one would buy them if they weren't operating and profitable.
IP spokesman Tom Ryan says the housing market is improving, which is good for the building products business. “These are good assets, and ... we’re going to operate them as Temple because they’ve got a good brand name; they’ve got a good market position.”
Jim Wehmeier of the Lufkin/Angelina County Economic Development Partnership says no one can say what will happen to the company’s local operations.
“Our No. 1 and really only goal is to keep the 500 people who are working out there working — not short-term, but long-term — keep the Temple-Inland name in East Texas and to make sure that they have long-term viability.”
Temple-Inland was founded in 1894 as the Southern Pine Lumber Company by lumberman Thomas Lewis Latane Temple. Diboll was just a big sawmill town for many years, before Temple's son and grandson pioneered a vast array of forest products and grew the company into the huge conglomerate it is today.
TLL Temple was a visionary. He was one of the few 19th century "timber barons" who realized the need to replace the trees he cut for timber. Others just "cut and ran", leaving thousands of acres of stripped land behind.
Temple saw that reforestation was the only way a timber company can stay in business over the long haul. That's why Temple and his family prospered and his competitors didn't.
The Temple family changed east Texas in ways impossible to measure. TLL Temple's grandson Arthur Temple Jr. modernized the company and its hometown when he inherited the company in 1951.
The Temples also established the philanthropic TLL Temple Foundation in 1962, which has provided millions of dollars in grants and matching funds for community improvement, health and medicine, education, and human services.
There is no aspect of life, education, health care and business in east Texas that hasn't been made better because of the Temple family. Moreover, the forest products empire they started transformed east Texas from a rural backwater into one of the most desirable areas to live and work in the entire state of Texas.