Wednesday, September 22, 2021

IFG to 'indefinitely' close Montana sawmill

| August 31, 2021 1:00 AM

Idaho Forest Group announced Monday it will be "indefinitely" suspending operations at its sawmill in St. Regis, Mont., by late November.

The Idaho-based forest products company has operated the mill for four years. It employs 99 people and contracts with loggers and haulers, some of whom may continue delivering logs to other IFG mills in North Idaho, according to a press release.

“We did not arrive at this decision easily or lightly and we recognize the very real and human consequences for our employees and the community,” said Mike Henley, regional manager in St. Regis. “We sincerely thank each of our employees for their dedication and their stewardship of the forests in western Montana, and we commit to helping them through this transition.”

IFG, a private company based in Coeur d’Alene, acquired the St. Regis mill in 2017. In January 2020, IFG scaled back operations and staff while investing in a facility upgrade.

"Despite favorable market conditions last year, the facility has consistently failed to meet production goals," the release said.

With lumber prices falling, Henley said the decision has been made to shut down operations in November.

The company’s leadership has notified the Montana Department of Labor and will continue to work "to ensure employees have access to resources that can support and assist them in this difficult time."

That includes assistance in resume writing, interview coaching and conducting outreach to prospective employers.

IFG operates six sawmills and a finger-joint plant at locations in Idaho and Montana, employing more than 1,100 team members and producing in excess of 1.2 billion board feet of lumber each year. IFG's Idaho sites are in Grangeville, Lewiston, Athol, Laclede, Chilco and Moyie Springs.