Hampton Lumber announced its acquisition of the Banks lumber mill assets in Banks, Oregon. The Banks lumber mill, which employed roughly 60 people, had been in operation since 1961 producing high quality green Doug fir narrow dimension lumber.
The location of the Banks sawmill is ideal for Hampton, which currently operates three sawmills in Oregon in the communities of Warrenton, Tillamook, and Willamina. The Banks mill is conveniently located 25 miles from Portland’s urban markets and transportation systems and has access to rail and a quality workforce in Washington County. Most importantly, the mill is situated near several state and private forestlands, including lands managed by Hampton near the Wilson River.
Access to a reasonably priced timber supply is a critical factor in the long-term viability of any sawmill. With the purchase of the Banks sawmill, Hampton is relying on the state’s continued commitment to working public forests and a dependable timber supply.
“Any additional restrictions or reductions from current modest harvest levels on nearby state forests could negatively affect the employment levels of all our sawmills in Oregon,” said Hampton CEO, Steve Zika. “However, we believe the Banks sawmill has the potential to be a successful business enterprise.”
In recent years numerous sawmills throughout the region have shuttered due to log shortages, high log costs, and declining lumber prices. These challenges forced the previous owners of the Banks sawmill to postpone further investments and upgrades at the mill. Hampton plans to change that by investing in upgrades to improve safety and productivity at the mill. To make these improvements, Hampton will keep the mill shut down for approximately six months. During that time Hampton will hire some of the workers laid off by the previous owner to help with mill improvements and employ a number of local contractors for the more technical electrical and mechanical projects.
“With all the challenges, one might wonder why a company would continue to invest in sawmills,” said Zika. “But we have over 70 years of experience in the sawmill business and people still need and want renewable wood products.” Nearly 100 percent of a log is used when manufactured locally, creating a wide variety of value-added products for construction, paper processing, landscaping, and energy generation.