Interfor has pulled the plug on its West End operations, planning to close two facilities and consolidate production in Port Angeles, the timber company announced Thursday. The closure affects 52 workers at the Beaver sawmill and another 35 at the Forks planer mill, officials said. “To the greatest extent possible, we will be offering them positions at Port Angeles or at other operations in our company,” said Karen Brandt, director of public affairs for Interfor Corp. in Vancouver, B.C.
Interfor’s West End mill and planer, which work hand in hand, have been on hiatus for about a month. A curtailment of the Beaver-Forks operation was phased in beginning June 27. Employees were told Thursday that the closure was being made permanent. “It’s really about so many factors, like market conditions for finished products and timber supply problems for that mill,” Brandt said. “These issues have been a recurring theme on the North Olympic Peninsula.”
By closing the West End sawmill and planer, the company plans to “provide some extra investment in Port Angeles,” Brandt said. It plans to increase capacity and optimize operations at the Interfor Pacific mill just west of Port Angeles, which employes about 120, Brandt said. Brandt could not say how many West End workers would be transferred to Port Angeles. The company will evaluate existing opportunities and “where there might be further opportunities down the road as we begin to invest in that operation some more,” she said.
In announcing the curtailment of the West End operation June 24, Steve Kroll, Interfor general manager for Washington operations, said the Beaver mill has been particularly hard hit by difficult market conditions and a “challenging fiber supply that is further aggravated by the impacts from log exports.” The Beaver mill had been operating on a 40-hour-per-week schedule, which is “difficult to maintain,” Kroll said. The curtailment and closure of the Beaver-Forks operation was noted in a Thursday press release about Interfor’s second-quarter performance.