Into the Woods: This Outsider Company Sees a Revival in Washington’s Lumber Industry

By Bill Virgin
Seattle Business Magazine
October 18, 2017
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Washington’s lumber-producing sector, the state’s original heavy industry, is a shadow of what it once was. … In less than a decade, the number of mills in the state fell 29 percent, according to a Department of Natural Resources survey, and that’s after the closing of mill complexes like Weyerhaeuser’s Snoqualmie and Enumclaw mills. All of which makes what happened in Shelton earlier this year such a rarity. A new lumber mill opened. In the overall count, the new mill at Shelton isn’t a gain, since it replaced a mill, one of the oldest in the state, operated by Simpson Lumber, one of the oldest forest-products companies in Washington. Family-owned Simpson has largely unwound itself down to just a door factory in McCleary. But the willingness of another multigenerational, family-owned forest-products company to spend more than $100 million to buy an existing facility, tear it down and build a new one from the ground up indicates that someone still sees value in slicing logs into two-by-fours, and doing it in Washington.

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