Plum Creek Eliminates 35 Jobs at Columbia Falls Fiberboard Plant

By Beacon Staff

Plum Creek Timber Company, citing a flat housing market and declining demand for wood products, announced Thursday that it was eliminating 35 jobs at its Medium Density Fiberboard plant in Columbia Falls.

The company will reduce the number of rotating shifts at the plant from four to three, which will cut its current staff of 185 by almost 20 percent. Employees at Plum Creek, the largest private landowner in the nation with about 8 million acres of timberland, have been told about the change, which will go into effect Sept. 29.

“What happens in the national economy affects our business in Montana,” Hank Ricklefs, vice president for Northern Resources and Manufacturing, said in a prepared statement. “News about the housing market continues to be gloomy and these market conditions have a direct impact on demand for our wood products. This change in the shift schedule will allow us to operate more efficiently until the market improves and we are then able to step up production.”

Employees who lose their jobs at the plant will have the opportunity to apply for positions at other Plum Creek facilities in the Flathead Valley. Those who do not secure one will receive severance benefits.

Currently, Plum Creek employs about 1,400 people in Montana, including 1,100 in the Flathead, and makes 25 percent of its revenue here.

Related: Surprised by Criticism, Plum Creek Aims to Shore Up Image