By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — After more than 70 years in business, Seattle-Snohomish Mill will close in March.
The mill, which employs 50 people, first opened in Snohomish in 1941.
“This is a very difficult decision,” Megan McMurray, owner of the mill, said in a statement. “We have a dedicated workforce, some who have been with Seattle-Snohomish Mill Co. Inc. for more than three decades.”
Mill employees were notified last week that the company would close in 60 days.
The collapse of the housing and construction industry was a major factor in the decision to close the Seattle-Snohomish Mill, McMurray said.
Since the 2008 recession, construction has slowed to a near standstill, reducing the demand for timber. For example, in 2006, roughly 3,907 building permits were issued for unincorporated Snohomish County. Last year, that number had fallen to 1,189.
Private companies harvested more than 3 million board feet of timber in Washington state in 2005, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. That fell to roughly 1.8 million board feet in 2009.
Many lumber companies have laid off employees and reduced their work schedules in response to the decline in construction. In 2009, Seattle-Snohomish Mill had scaled back to one shift from three, cutting the workforce to 100 from 160.
Since last August, three lumber companies in the state have filed notices with the state of pending employee layoffs or mill closures. Darrington’s Hampton Lumber Mill laid off 76 workers in December, while Woodinville Lumber closed at the end of August. Colville’s Stimson Lumber closed in November.
Seattle Snohomish Mill, at 9525 Airport Way in Snohomish, had touted proximity both to I-5 and to the railroad as an advantage for efficiently transporting products. The mill offered 20-foot to 40-foot Douglas and Hem fir timber, as well as smaller kiln-dried products.
Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak expressed disappointment over the closure of the mill.
“I am always sorry to see any store closing, especially one that is so close to the city,” she said.