Montrose sawmill owner sees future, hopes for Sept. 10 start
The sawmill in Montrose is under new ownership under a deal that takes the plant out of receivership and frees the new managers from burdensome contracts.
The former Intermountain Resources mill on 6350 Road is now owned by Montrose Forest Products LLC, which is owned by the Wyoming-based Neiman family.
Timing and location were key considerations in purchasing the sawmill, Jim Neiman, vice president and CEO of Neiman Enterprises Inc., of Hulett, Wyo., said.
“I think we’re at the end of a very long U-shaped recession and you’ve got way more chances of (the economy) going up than down,” Neiman said.
As the economy rises, Montrose Forest Products will be well-positioned to supply lumber for new construction, Neiman said.
Montrose also is strategically located near Colorado’s lodgepole pine beetle-killed forests.
About 4.2 million acres of Colorado’s forests have been ravaged by the mountain pine beetle, which attacks aging trees, leaving them to turn red and wither. Harvested trees, however, can still be used for lumber.
Neiman said he hoped to resume mill operations on Sept. 10, depending on log supplies.
While the timing and location were significant factors in the sale, Neiman said Montrose also offered a stable pool of potential employees.
“I’ve been impressed with the workforce as I toured the mill over the last few years,” Neiman said. “I’m pretty impressed with the workforce and work ethic there.”
Montrose Forest Resources will offer jobs to current employees, who number 85 or 90, Neiman said. Firing up the sawmill also will indirectly preserve about 150 more timber-related jobs, he said.
In all, the Montrose Economic Development Corp. said in a press release, the sawmill could spin off a combined total of more than 500 jobs.
Montrose Forest Products will deal with five national forests in Colorado, but won’t have any of the old, high-costs contracts that hampered the mill previously, Neiman said. Instead the company will look for new contracts.
The Forest Service is “our long-term partner in this relationship,” Neiman said. “We hope each of the forests sees us as a critical partner as well.”
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., welcomed the new ownership. saying it “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.”
The sawmill is one of Montrose’s largest employers and its future has been in question since 2010, the MEDC noted in a statement.
“At risk was the potential loss of the expertise of the existing employees as well as the loss of capacity to process timber” from Colorado’s forests.
Neiman Enterprises Inc. is a leading producer of ponderosa pine boards, pattern, decking, and industrial, or shop, lumber. The company operates four facilities in the Black Hills; Devils Tower Forest Products in Hulett, Rushmore Forest Products in Hill City, S.D., and Spearfish Forest Products and Heartland Pellets, both located in Spearfish, S.D.