Kronospan is a global manufacturer of wood-based panels with a large production plant on a 460-acre site on Bynum Boulevard, just south of the Anniston Army Depot in Oxford in southern Calhoun County. The CEO of Kronospan USA is Hans Obermaier.
Kronospan traces its history to a family-owned sawmill which was founded in 1897 as the Sägewerk M. Kaindl in Lungötz, Austria. The mill pioneered the production of chipboard in 1962. The current company, Kronospan Holdings P.L.C., was incorporated in 1996 in Cyprus and operates 35 production facilities around the world, mostly in Europe.
Kronospan opened its Oxford plant in 2005. It currently produces medium- and high-density fiberboard (MDF/HDF), particleboard (PB) and oriented-strand board (OSB} used in construction and manufacturing.
In 2016 Kronospan announced as an $88 million expansion at its Oxford facility. Two weeks later the company announced an increase in its expected investment to $362 million, including a new particle board production line and a major expansion of its KronoChem division, which produces urea formaldehyde resins used in its other products. Once completed, the expanded plant was expected to employ 270 people. In 2018 the expansion cost, now called the "Grow Bama" project, had swelled to $463 million with additional production lines for laminated flooring products sold at big box home improvement retailers. The first particle board panels rolled of the line in October 2019, and at that time the company supported 340 full-time positions in Alabama.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Alabama Department of Environmental Management found evidence of "chronic violations" of permitted limits on contaminants discharged from Kronospan to wastewater treatment plants operated by the Oxford Water Works and Sewer Board between 2007 and 2012, resulting in contamination of Choccolocco Creek. Those violations were alleged to have continued despite the 2013 installation of pollution control devices and a flow monitoring system intended to prevent them. As a result, the company and regulators signed onto a consent decree in 2020 under which the company would pay $900,000 in fines to the United States and the State of Alabama, and construct its own water treatment facility.
In 2023 Kronospan announced another planned expansion, a production line for oriented strand board (OSB) estimated at $350 million with an anticipated workforce in excess of 600.
- Underwood, Jerry (June 23, 2016) "Kronospan creating 160 jobs in Alabama with $362M expansion."
- Rebman, Stephanie (June 20, 2018) "Manufacturer plans additional $101M investment, 150 jobs in Alabama." Birmingham Business Journal
- "First panel production – Kronospan Oxford, Alabama." (October 17, 2019) Kronospan press release
- Lockette, Tim (November 10, 2020) "Kronospan would pay $900K fine, spend $7 million to address water pollution under proposed settlement." Anniston Star
- Thornton, William (May 25, 2023) "Kronospan announces $350 million Oxford expansion, to hire 125." AL.com