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Ochoco Lumber to close sawmill in John Day
The Malheur Lumber Company closes sawmill operations, but will continue to keep the biomass facility open
August 20, 2012
Ochoco Lumber Company announced this week that Malheur Lumber Company in John Day, Ore. will close its operations for their sawmill and related departments on Nov. 1, 2012.
Employees were given the news last Friday of the upcoming closure, which affects approximately 80 individuals in the John Day area. The Malheur Lumber Company in John Day is located 120 miles east of Prineville.
The biomass production facility, which includes the pellet and wood brick mill, the chipper, and the whole log shaver, will continue to operate on the normal schedule. Malheur Lumber Company will continue to purchase timber sales on national forest land and other sources to support the on-going operations.
“As we go forward to continue on with the biomass facility, we hope to restructure the company so we can keep approximately 20 people employed,” said President of Ochoco Lumber Company Bruce Daucsavage on Monday.
He added that they will eliminate the position of the manager of the company, Art Andrews.
“We have to restructure and take the people that have the highest experience and the people that can do the jobs, because you have to multi-task,” noted Daucsavage. “We will be doing a lot of chipping for pulp and paper, and also chips for our biomass facility, and we want to continue on with our shaving facility where we shave logs. There are a lot of higher-priced jobs that will be eliminated.”
He noted that the payroll for Ochoco Lumber Company in 2011 was more than $4 million, and the payroll going forward will probably be under $800,000. The change will also impact Prineville as well, including Dauvsavage’s position, which will also eventually be eliminated. He said that it will have an impact on contributions to non-profits in the community.
On Monday, Vice President of Manufacturing for Contact Industries, Casey Jackson commented that their facility purchased a minimal amount of material from Malheur.
“We didn’t receive a lot of materials from Malheur,” Jackson noted of the closure. He added that it will affect the entire area, as yet another pine mill shuts down.
“There are only so many people running pine,” said Jackson. “It’s certainly not a good thing for the industry by any means.”
He went on to say that he didn’t know how much fiber they provided the other facilities in Prineville. Woodgrain Millwork, Inc. was not available for comment on Monday morning.
Daucsavage stated that the mill could no longer sustain sawmill and planning operations without sufficient local timber from adjacent national forests. He went on to say that although they appreciated the efforts of the Malheur National Forest staff, but they were disappointed by the lack of support by others in the national forest system. He also noted that a sense of urgency was lacking by Congress in needing to effectively address forest health and rural employment issues.
“With the exception of Senator Wyden and Congressman Walden, there has been little effort made in solving the issues that plague our forests and rural communities.”
Ochoco Timber Company was formed in 1920 by a group of prominent northwest lumbermen, who saw an opportunity to produce a sustained yield from Central Oregon’s ponderosa pine forests. In 1938, Ochoco Lumber Company was formed to build and operate sawmills that harvested from timberlands that are predominantly located in Grant and Crook Counties.
The company’s timberland holdings are located in two geographic areas of Oregon—Prineville and John Day, Ore.
In 1983, Ochoco Lumber Company formed a wholly owned subsidiary, Malheur Lumber Company as it began the sawmill construction in John Day, Oregon. Much of the lumber is shipped to secondary manufacturers who produce various products including doors, windows, moldings, cabinets and furniture which are primarily used in the building and remodeling industry.
“The company will reduce its revenues by 65 percent perhaps, and we will continue to purchase the type of timber sales that exist on the forest for biomass,” said Daucsavage. Of the saw mill, he commented, “It appears that we are only getting 10 percent of saw timber that we got 10 years ago. So there has been a 90 percent reduction in our region in saw logs. We cannot operate that way.”
“We want to thank our employees for their loyalty and hard work this past 30 years,” concluded Daucsavage. “They deserve credit for our past success. Also deserving of thanks is the leadership and staff of the Malheur National Forest, who have made substantial efforts to sell the timber necessary for our survival. We want to thank Grant County and the State of Oregon for their efforts on our behalf.”