Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The demise

The reality is, unless something changes, logging is going the way of whaling.

Britt Lumber closes, idling Aldergrove plant for now – October 2, 2007

ALDERGROVE – The saws and loaders at West End Road’s Britt Lumber fell silent at 2:30 p.m. Friday, the final day of operation for the Arcata sawmill. Ralph Hafar Jr. was taking his time leaving. After 15 years with the company, a facility that also employed his father and his son, head saw filer had plenty of memories tied up with the company. “This is the best job I’ve ever had,” Hafar said.

The crew had known final day was coming for months. From a one-time peak of 120 workers, the mill staff was down to under 20 by Friday. Britt reduced a shift earlier this year and parent company Palco, in bankruptcy court since January, was required to sell off several of its assets. That meant Britt, thriving financially by all accounts, was out of luck and workers bound for other jobs or unemployment lines.

According to Hafar, Company President Russ Britt made the final weeks as easy as possible. The staff celebrated Britt’s three decades of operation at a barbeque recently. “He’s been giving us hope,” Hafar said of Britt. At least four competing timber companies have expressed interest in the mill and Russ Britt has informed his employees that he’ll contact them should the company get up and running again.

For Hafar, that would be the best possible outcome. Britt is full of cutting edge mill technology as the company strove for efficiency for 30 years. For the past several years, it rarely took in a tree with a diameter larger than 10 inches, yet was able to create high-quality finished fencing from lower-grade second growth most mills would have chipped up. Much of the equipment in Hafar’s saw filing shop is state-of-the-art. Britt has been regarded within the industry as an economic leader.

Highly trained, Hafar’s already found out-of-state employment. But the Humboldt native has too many ties to just pick up and leave. “This is my home,” he said.Britt Lumber closes, idling Aldergrove plant for now – October 2, 2007

ALDERGROVE – The saws and loaders at West End Road’s Britt Lumber fell silent at 2:30 p.m. Friday, the final day of operation for the Arcata sawmill. Ralph Hafar Jr. was taking his time leaving. After 15 years with the company, a facility that also employed his father and his son, head saw filer had plenty of memories tied up with the company. “This is the best job I’ve ever had,” Hafar said.

The crew had known final day was coming for months. From a one-time peak of 120 workers, the mill staff was down to under 20 by Friday. Britt reduced a shift earlier this year and parent company Palco, in bankruptcy court since January, was required to sell off several of its assets. That meant Britt, thriving financially by all accounts, was out of luck and workers bound for other jobs or unemployment lines.

According to Hafar, Company President Russ Britt made the final weeks as easy as possible. The staff celebrated Britt’s three decades of operation at a barbeque recently. “He’s been giving us hope,” Hafar said of Britt. At least four competing timber companies have expressed interest in the mill and Russ Britt has informed his employees that he’ll contact them should the company get up and running again.

For Hafar, that would be the best possible outcome. Britt is full of cutting edge mill technology as the company strove for efficiency for 30 years. For the past several years, it rarely took in a tree with a diameter larger than 10 inches, yet was able to create high-quality finished fencing from lower-grade second growth most mills would have chipped up. Much of the equipment in Hafar’s saw filing shop is state-of-the-art. Britt has been regarded within the industry as an economic leader.

Highly trained, Hafar’s already found out-of-state employment. But the Humboldt native has too many ties to just pick up and leave. “This is my home,” he said.
This and lots more in The Arcata Eye

2 comments:

Kevin L. Hoover said...

He never went away.

And he'll be on Humboldt Review this Thursday, too!

Kevin L. Hoover said...

Oopsie - posted to the wrong thread.

That one, referring to Mr. Schwartz, goes to "Oh God, he's back."