Ace Pole Co.

It was business as usual last week at Ace Pole – at least as far as employees and customers are concerned. The longtime Pierce County pole manufacturer is under new ownership after the Eunice brothers sold the trio of family-owned companies to Beach Timber of Alma.  – Photo by Sarah Gove

Ace Pole Company, longstanding Pierce County industry located near Lairsey’s crossing, is now under new ownership.

Cecil and Garry Eunice, brothers and owners of the company, sold the business their father, Steve Eunice, founded more than 50 years ago, to Alma-based Beach Timber Company in an acquisition that was finalized Friday, July 31.

Beach Timber has acquired Ace Pole, Ace Equipment and Eunice Trucking after nearly two years of pending negotiations, but Beach Timber President Gary Strickland will not change the names of any Eunice-owned companies. And, there is no plan to rebrand either company at this time.

Strickland is now the sole owner of Beach Timber, Ace Pole Company, Ace Equipment and Eunice Trucking. His children, Steve Strickland, vice president of operations, and Susan (Strickland) Rye, VP of sales/finance, will take over daily management of the Ace companies.

“This marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for our companies, employees, family and community. It’s a family business acquiring a family business and we look forward to continued success for generations to come,” says Rye. “We are excited to build on the successful legacies of both companies and are strongly positioned to achieve our vision for future growth.”

Eunice and his son, Cecil Eunice Jr. will remain in their positions at Ace while Garry chose to retire following the sale of the brothers’ company.

“I’m staying on. We’ll try to help them all we can,” Eunice says. “They’re (Beach Timber) local, good people like us, and I figured they would keep a good name (for the company) right on.”

“You’re going to get the same service, the same quality of pole,” he adds.

Rye anticipates no reduction of employees at this time. Ace customers can expect to see the same familiar faces among office staff, sales team, delivery drivers and elsewhere within the company, Rye says.

In fact, the company is expecting growth in both production and employment in the months ahead. Plans are reportedly underway to expand pole production capability in Blackshear.

“I think we’ll continue to see them (employment numbers) grow,” Rye says.

Ace currently employs approximately 100 while Beach Timber in Alma employs 60. Each facility will continue to operate independently.

According to Pierce County tax records, Ace companies currently contribute more than $85,000 in property, inventory and equipment tax revenue to the county – not including fuel tax or other related taxes.

While there are no plans to downsize, the new management will be evaluating “synergies” between the two companies in the days ahead, Rye says, primarily looking for ways to consolidate management processes if possible.

“Our mission is to build on the 50 years success they’ve had and look at increasing efficiencies around production,” Rye says. “I think we’re going to see increased production and potentially new hires.”

Beach Timber has nearly 35 years of experience in manufactured wood products operating a white pole mill, lumber mill and mulch plant in Alma. The company was recognized as Bacon County’s 2019 Industry of the Year.

Ace, operating in its current location since 1978, has been a leader in utility pole exports for more than 50 years. Ace Pole is the largest producer of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) treated utility poles in the U.S. with worldwide distribution. CCA treatment protects poles against termites and decay, but leaves wood clean-to-the-touch.

“This is such a perfect fit because we’re already working together,” Rye says. “Between the two mills, we’re the primary export pole supplier in the country.”

More than half of the utility poles exported to other countries are generated between Ace and Beach.  

Both mills procure raw material from wood dealers, peel, process and dry the wood poles. The sole distinction between the two companies is that Ace also treats poles, a part of the industry Beach has not ventured into until now.

“It’s definitely a big growth step for us,” Rye says. “We look forward to expanded opportunities to meet your Southern Pine Utility pole needs.”

Ace is looking to hire equipment operators. Anyone interested in applying should contact Office Manager Ashley Moore at 912-449-4011.

About Beach Timber: Beach Timber Company, Inc. opened its doors in 1986 on four acres of land that previously served as part of Gary Strickland’s family turpentine operations. The company was founded as a white pole manufacturing operation producing semi-manufactured utility poles. Ten years later the company relocated to a 40-acre site north of Alma. A small pole mill was added to the facility in 2000 and a year later BTC was successful in creating a new wood product used to support the BTC piling markets. In 2004, a second dry kiln was constructed and put into operation and BTC expanded its operations to include a landscaping mulch processing facility. Four years later, after aquiring additional acreage, BTC constructed a Southern Yellow Pine Specialty sawmill, but ceased production in 2009 due to market conditions. This year, the Pine Specialty Sawmill was redesigned and put back into production.

About Ace Pole:  Steve Eunice entered the post business in 1964, peeling fence posts in his backyard but soon moved his operation to a site adjacent to the Satilla River and incorporated as Ace Post Company. Six years later, he purchased a pole machine from Atlantic Creosoting Company in Homerville, and Homerville Pole Company began operations. The operations merged to become Ace Pole Company in 1978, relocating to its current site near Lairsey Crossing on U.S. Hwy. 84.