Montrose Lumber Mill Purchased and Soon to Be Operational
by Gus Jarvis
Sep 06, 2012 | 2895 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MONTROSE – A Wyoming-based lumber company completed the purchase of the Intermountain Resources sawmill in Montrose over the Labor Day weekend, and is in the process of restarting milling operations by Monday, Sept. 10.

Jim Neiman, vice president and CEO of the Hulett, Wyo.-based Neiman Enterprises, said the Neiman family closed on the sawmill purchase last Friday and official transfer of possession of the sawmill came on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Under its new name, Montrose Forest Products, Neiman said he hopes milling operations will resume on Sept. 10, depending on log supplies. The purchase is positive economic news, as the sawmill will once again provide a high number of jobs in the Montrose region.

“We are in the process of interviewing all of the employees as we speak,” Neiman said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We have a management team interviewing and offering jobs. I am going to guess the direct number of jobs the mill will provide will be somewhere between 85 and 90. And then of course there will be jobs created on the timber side and that will spread out across the region.”

Neiman Enterprises is a producer of Ponderosa pine boards, pattern, decking and industrial lumber.  Neiman presently operates four facilities in South Dakota’s Black Hills, including Devils Tower Forest Products in Hulett, S.D.; Rushmore Forest Products in Hill City S.D.; and Spearfish Forest Products and Heartland Pellets both located in Spearfish, S.D.

Neiman said his family is excited to expand into Colorado and diversify the product mix with the addition of the Montrose mill. He said the mill, as it has in the past, will produce framing studs at various lengths once its up and operating.

Neiman said he and his family have been looking for opportunities to expand and when the mill went into receivership in 2010, they worked through a “very complicated” process to reach a deal.

“This transaction has taken much longer than anyone expected,” he said. “I’m glad that it has finally concluded, and we want to get the employees and loggers back to work as quickly as possible.

“One of the key things that captured my eye about this mill is the workforce. Every time I went through the mill, everybody had a good attitude and were hardworking. Those are fundamental, if we are going to take a risk like this.”

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” Montrose County Commissioner Gary Ellis said. “We appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped facilitate the purchase by the new owners. Any time a business can be saved, along with the jobs that are represented, it’s a huge plus for this area. We wish the new owners the best and trust that they will be able to contract with the forest service to get the supply of logs that they need to successfully operate.”

When the housing market bubble burst and lumber demand plummeted, the mill’s previous owner, Intermountain Resources, struggled to fulfill timber contracts at the contracted prices. Once it went into receivership in May 2010, the mill was left with only its existing, high-priced contracts, and had no room for negotiating new timber purchases with the U.S. Forest Service.

Neiman said the biggest challenge for the mill continues to be getting enough timber sale contracts, as “very few if any timber sales available that went with the mill” were profitable. Neiman is optimistic that new timber sales will be offered by the U.S. Forest Service at an affordable price.

With wildfires devastating regions throughout the West and entire forests being wiped out by pine beetles, Neiman hopes attitudes against logging have shifted, emphasizing that the logging industry plays a key role in maintaining healthy forests.

“You hope that there’s an education process going on and a better understanding of what creates healthy forests,” Neiman said. “If we could have been better managing the forests over the last 50 years, there would have been less forest issues,” and fewer wildfires.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) supports  forest management and advocates ensuring that the Montrose mill has the timber it needs to be operational. The mill is a critical piece of the puzzle to reducing fuel loads in Colorado forests, Udall said Tuesday, and in helping turn the state's bark beetle onslaught to profit.

“The reopened Montrose sawmill has the potential to support good-paying, stable jobs in the community, and to give forest health managers a powerful tool to address beetle-killed trees and fuel-load reduction,” Udall said. “It is my hope that this sawmill and its new owners will be a force multiplier for forest managers, entrepreneurs and builders alike.  We all have a role to play in restoring Colorado's forests.”

Neiman said his family would not have been able to move forward with the purchase of the Montrose mill without congressional support for the timber industry. More information on Neiman Enterprises, Inc. can be found at neimanenterprises.com.



Email: gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter: @gusgusj

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