Plum Creek’s Evergreen Plant to Close Indefinitely

By Beacon Staff

Officials from Plum Creek Timber Company announced Thursday that it will shut down its Evergreen plant on June 26, leaving 63 employees out of work.

The company cited a decrease in product demand at the stud sawmill and stud remanufacturing plant near Kalispell as the reason for closing its doors.

Plum Creek’s Columbia Falls facility will continue operating, but in an effort to reduce costs, 23 of its 130 employees will be cut. Pine boards manufactured at the sawmill have seen an improvement in sales, Kathy Budinick, the company’s director of communications, said.

The decision to keep operations up and running at the Columbia Falls mill will be based on ongoing reviews of market conditions and the facility’s economic performance, officials said. Budinick said she hopes the Columbia Falls operation doesn’t see the same fate as Evergreen, “but it’s hard to foresee what’s going to happen.”

The Evergreen stud sawmill was closed in January and reopened on May 4. Workers at Evergreen and Columbia Falls were notified via the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) on April 27 that another closure was possible.

“The company’s manufacturing business has been hard hit by industry turbulence over the past several months,” said Rick Holley, Plum Creek president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. “We have done everything possible to keep these facilities running, but improving efficiencies was not enough for our Evergreen stud operations given the current markets.”

Budinick said in 2008 Plum Creek lost $44 million in the manufacturing business and $22 million in the first quarter of 2009.

“That’s why we have to take drastic measures this year to reduce losses,” she said. “The situation is not getting better.”

Workers at Evergreen will receive aid under the Trade Adjustment Assistance and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance federal programs, Budinick said, while the Columbia Falls facility has applied for these programs. Workers affected by the layoffs at both operations will receive severance pay.

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