Western Montana sawmill closing this fall, 99 to lose jobs
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A western Montana sawmill is closing this fall, putting 99 people out of work when they finish processing its remaining log supply, likely by mid-November.
Idaho Forest Group officials notified employees at the St. Regis mill of the decision on Monday. The Coeur d’Alene-based company bought the St. Regis mill in 2017.
“We made some investments back in January 2020, but it’s not cost-competitive with any of our newer mills,” said Tom Schultz, an IFG vice president. “When the market went up, we were able to mask some of the issues we were facing.”
With lumber prices returning to normal, the mill cannot operate without losing money right now, he said.
The St. Regis facility has failed to meet production goals due to outdated equipment and difficulty finding workers, Schultz said.
The mill produces construction lumber, such as 2x4s and 2x6 studs. The closure will also affect loggers, truckers and other contract workers.
The Idaho Forest Group has 40 job vacancies in Idaho, so some employees would have the opportunity to relocate, Schultz said. The company will also help employees with job fairs, resume writing assistance and interview coaching.
Idaho Forest Group owns six lumber mills and is building a sawmill in Mississippi.