Montrose sawmill in financial hot water

Large stacks of beetle kill trees sit ready for processing at the Intermountain Resources LLC lumber mill August 8, 2009. The mill is one of the largest lumber facilities in Colorado.

One of the biggest sawmills in the West is in financial distress and is restructuring in an effort to keep creditors at bay, according to the Montrose Economic Development Corp.

Intermountain Resources in Montrose, which employs about 100 people and infuses more than $20 million annually into the local economy, received $500,000 earlier this year in federal dollars to combat the effects of a bark-beetle infestation.

Company spokeswoman Nancy Fishering was out of state Wednesday and did not return a call for comment.

Executive director Sandy Head of the Montrose Economic Development Corp. said she received an e-mail from Fishering last week stating that the company had been appointed a receiver, but the company’s bank had since stepped in to try to help in an effort to reopen the facility.

Calls to Intermountain Resources were not returned Wednesday.

Sawmills have closed across the country and other mills are laying off employees for short stints as demand for timber has decreased with a drop-off in new construction in the past couple years. Western Colorado’s only two remaining sawmills are Delta Timber Co. in Delta and Doug Jones Sawmill in Grand Junction.

The $500,000 allocation was a “Band-Aid,” said Head, who added that the company should receive more assistance to operate in order to buoy the economy and keep workers employed, especially as more than a half-million acres of beetle infested trees have been identified for harvest.

“They are such a valuable piece of community,” she said of the company. “We need to help them and what they need is money and we all know there is a shortage of that.”

Some vendors have not been paid for completed work, Head confirmed, a complaint that has been circulating in Montrose.

The company did close for a time, but Head said officials there have said it was temporary and there are plans to reopen.

Intermountain Resources represents one of Montrose’s largest employers behind Russell Stover, Delta County Memorial Hospital and Delta County, Head said. Some salaries for employees ranged from $65,000 to $100,000 a year. It paid about $10 million out to independent contractors last year.

Intermountain was investing in new technology last year and was buying equipment from other sawmills, Head said.

It had increased its capacity to handle 42 million board feet from 12 million board feet and was looking forward to a rebound in the economy, Fishering told The Daily Sentinel in February.


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