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Woodgrain acquires two Boise Cascade sawmills in Oregon.

Byline: Teya Vitu

Woodgrain Millwork, Fruitland's largest private employer, has acquired two Boise Cascade sawmills and a particleboard facility in eastern Oregon.

Woodgrain took over operations Nov. 5 of the Boise Cascade sawmills in Pilot Rock and La Grande and the particleboard operations in Island City, all in Union and Umatilla counties.

The sale, for an undisclosed amount, comes in a period where Boise Cascade is shifting more to veneer-based engineered wood products and plywood, while Woodgrain seeks to produce more of the lumber it uses in manufacturing doors, moldings and windows.

"Boise Cascade knew about our interest in the lumber side of the business," said Tanner Dame, marketing director of the Dame family-owned business.

Founded in 1954, Woodgrain acquired its first sawmill just two years ago, another former Boise Cascade facility in Emmett that had been shuttered for about 10 years.

"It's a new enterprise for us as we diversify," Dame said in a phone interview.

Diversification has been a theme for Woodgrain in 2018 as the company in September expanded into plastic coated lumber production with the acquisition of EcoForm in North Palm Springs, California, and Woodguard of Cottage Grove, Oregon.

"I am excited about the acquisition of these three facilities (in eastern Oregon) as they align well with our strategy of growth through vertical integration," Woodgrain CEO Kelly Dame said in a news release.

Woodgrain inherits 250 employees at the three eastern Oregon facilities, a significant increase for a company with 2,500 total employees at 21 mills, storage and manufacturing locations around the country and in Chile, with 400 employees in Fruitland, nearly 300 in Nampa and 70 in Emmett.

"It's the stabilization of our supply chain," Tanner Dame said about the sawmills. "It helps us control our costs."

The Boise Cascade sale also caught the attention of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

"I am pleased that Woodgrain will continue operating these mills in Union and Umatilla counties because these facilities retain jobs and support rural infrastructure by processing materials from overstocked national forests," Wyden said in a news release.

Woodgrain is still evaluating whether the new sawmills will increase production of finished products, Tanner Dame said.

"We can increase our capacity with a larger lumber supply," he said. "The bigger consideration is the integration of our supply chain."

Boise Cascade owned the La Grande sawmill and Island City particleboard operations for more than 50 years. Boise Cascade owned the Pilot Rock sawmill only nine years, but the former Kinzua Lumber mill was originally built in 1940 by Pilot Rock Lumber Co., Boise Cascade spokeswoman Lisa Chapman said.

"We are one of the largest manufacturers of engineered wood products and plywood in North America, and we are committed to these core businesses," Chapman said in explaining the sale of the lumber mills.

Boise Cascade still has 10 sawmills in the Pacific Northwest, seven in the southeast and one in St. Jacques, New Brunswick, Canada.

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Publication:Idaho Business Review
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Nov 15, 2018
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