Old and new employees are trickling in throughout the month, putting to use a swath of brand new machinery.
“Change is always hard,” said Larry Mason, a Maintenance Supervisor and returning employee with the company. “We have new equipment that’s going to be interesting to learn, but it’s all a challenge and I think everybody’s up for it.”
The new Rough & Ready is thanks to a combined $5 million from the state and the non-profit Ecotrust. The loans are helping them recruit a crew of 67 old and new employees, a smaller but more highly specialized and highly paid payroll than before.
Those employees will be installing and operating some of the mill’s new machinery, much of which designed for smaller diameter logs.
Those logs, owners say, will allow them to expand their supply of available logs, and many are already coming by the truckload.
“After we closed down… it was ironic, but we had I think four federal timber sales awarded,” said Jennifer Phillippi, Co-Owner of the company.
Those sales include salvage from last year’s Douglas Complex. Some of those burned logs are already being processed at the mill.
Now, with the new timber from those sales and the old contracts still in place from last year, owners say they’re almost at full speed once again.
“This is what our family has always done and what we love, and what the people in this community care about,” said Phillippi.
Employees are still coming in slowly throughout the month, and Phillippi anticipates both the payroll and new machinery will be at full capacity by the first week of August at the latest.
The four new timber sales will be harvested throughout the next couple of years. Meanwhile, a study performed as part of the state loan process identified 28 million board feet of sustainable timber that can be harvested on federal lands each year.