Great Southern Wood Preserving Inc. announced Thursday the completion of a strategic alliance with U.S. Lumber Group in which Great Southern will become a minority owner of U.S. Lumber.

The agreement enables Great Southern to gain markets for its YellaWood brand in the mid-Atlantic region, while U.S. Lumber will expand the range of its specialty products into the Midwest, Southwest, and Caribbean. "This initiative will allow both companies to bring an expanded range of products to more customers more quickly, and to aid customers with inventory management through the combined expertise in logistics and purchasing of both firms and their affiliates," the alliance announcement said.

"This is an exciting development for both companies, our employees and customers," said Great Southern chairman, president, and CEO Jimmy Rane."It will create a vehicle for growth at a time when the economy in general, and new housing starts in particular, continue to struggle."

Great Southern provides pressure treated wood products to retail home centers, pro dealers, and other retail building related segments. The Abbeville, Ala.-based company operates 11 facilities throughout the South and Midwest. U.S. Lumber distributes specialty products, including exterior trim products, interior millwork, flooring, siding, and decking, throughout the South and mid-Atlantic regions. The Atlanta-based company operates seven branches throughout the regions it services.