Hampton Affiliates indefinitely cuts production at Darrington, Washington, sawmill, to 50 hours/week from 80 hours/week, laying off 80 employees

PORTLAND, Oregon , October 18, 2011 (press release) – Hampton Affiliates, Portland, Oregon, announced the layoff of approximately 80 employees at its Darrington, Washington, sawmill. The Darrington mill will reduce its operating schedule from 80 hours per week to 50 hours per week indefinitely sometime in November, depending on customer commitments

“In the midst of dealing with an extremely poor domestic lumber market, we have exorbitant log costs due to the huge volume of log exports going mostly to China. We have a dedicated workforce in the Darrington/Arlington area and deeply regret the impact this curtailment has on them. We have also made significant capital improvements at Darrington to make it a competitive operation, but the current cost of our raw material in these weak lumber markets makes generating a profit impossible. With so many logs from private lands being exported to China and with our federal forests, including the Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie, effectively locked up, there are very few options for additional log volumes in the Pacific Northwest. While log exports have created a few jobs at the ports in Washington, those jobs in no way make up for the job losses we are seeing at domestic sawmills as they attempt to compete against low-cost Chinese labor.” said Steve Zika, Hampton’s Chief Executive Officer

Hampton recently laid off 80 employees at its Randle, Washington, stud mill and reduced its operating hours, also reflecting the impact of log exports to China and the lack of raw material available from federal lands.

“We plan to operate all of our sawmills for the foreseeable future, albeit most at reduced schedules, and weather the storm until the U.S. housing market begins to recover. We also continue to grow our business of exporting finished lumber products to a variety of Asian markets.” Zika added.

Hampton Affiliates is a family-owned forest products business headquartered in Portland, Oregon, employing about 1,600 people primarily in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. Hampton owns approximately 93,000 acres of timberland, managed on a sustainable basis, certified through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and eight sawmills in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia with normal lumber production capacity in excess of 2.3 billion board feet. Hampton also has wholesale and distribution operations that deliver building products to customers all over the world.

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