SPRINGFIELD, Ore.– The lumber industry took a hit immediately after a fire destroyed the Swanson Springfield Plywood and Veneer Mill. The fire happened last Thursday, and by Friday, plywood prices jumped 10 to 12 percent; in particular, sheathing and sanded plywood. Those are materials the mill produced.
“I think overall, it was too dramatic of a price increase, so quick that we think those prices will come down 45 to 60 days down the road,” said Steve Killgore of Roseburg Forest Products in Roseburg.
Killgore is also the former owner of the mill. He sold it to the Swanson group in 2007. He says this price hike comes at a time when demand is at its peak.
The mill represents 5 percent of the western production and 2 percent of the North American production, so Killgore doesn’t believe the loss will disrupt the plywood market long term. In the short term though, some items may be hard to find. Also, hours after news of the fire spread, there was a rush in orders.
“Some of them were legitimate in that they need to cover their needs, but part of it was fueled by an emotional response to wanting to protect themselves and have volume available,” added Killgore.
If Swanson decides to rebuild the mill, Killgore says it could take up to two years. The company is shifting workers to its plant in Glendale and is having a job fair for employees next Wednesday.