White City's Timber Products cuts 11 jobs

WHITE CITY — Timber Products has trimmed 11 positions from its plywood plant staff, a spokesman for the Springfield-based wood products firm said Wednesday.

"Like everybody else in the softwood plywood industry, we've been impacted by the fall off in residential construction — that's where the panels go," said Roger Rutan, Timber Products vice president of marketing. "That industry has been flat. There hasn't been much demand for panels for concrete forms used on highway projects either."

The plant now employs 50 people, the company said Thursday morning. Updated: See below.

When Timber Products celebrated its 90th year of operation last April, the company said it employed nearly 1,000 people between its operations in Jackson and Josephine counties. On Wednesday, Rutan was unsure of the present employee count for the region. An update Thursday

While softwood plywood producers nationwide are caught in the grip of the construction and credit market woes, some wood products are still selling.

Rutan said Timber Products' Medford particle board plant still finds solid demand in Midwest markets such as Minneapolis and Chicago for its panels.

"Business in New England is OK and in Texas and Louisiana it's OK," he said. "Even in the intermountain region that goes through Salt Lake City, it's really pretty good. When you're talking about Northern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles, things are way down."

He said even if a federal economic stimulus package is passed soon, it would not immediately spur production.

"Obviously, we have a long way to go before we see how that money gets spent," Rutan said. "We don't see a lot of direct impact for the wood products industry specifically, but when you're talking about highways and bridges, they consume a lot of our products. When you're talking about educational institutions and facilities, they need various construction materials. Our guess is that it's at least six to nine months out and more realistically 12 months."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.

Updated: New information was added to this online story after the article was published in the paper.

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