Weyerhaeuser to shut sawmills

FEDERAL WAY - Weyerhaeuser Co. said Thursday it plans to close six sawmills in Washington and Oregon for two weeks because of low demand in the national housing market.

Mills in Aberdeen and Longview; and Dallas, Warrenton, Boardman and Coburg, Ore., will be closed from Nov. 19-25 and Dec. 24-Jan. 1, said Shawn Watson, spokesman for the Federal Way-based lumber and paper producer.

Most workers are not expected to take a financial hit, since the vast majority are planning to take paid vacation during the closures, Watson said.

Shutdowns last year

Weyerhaeuser ordered similar shutdowns last year, when housing starts also were slow and inventories at the mills exceeded demand, Watson said.

In mid-September, Weyerhaeuser announced plans to permanently close a sawmill in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, cutting 224 jobs in a bid to boost the company's competitiveness in the region.

The mill, 200 miles east of Vancouver, is scheduled to close Dec. 17.

That closure came a week after Weyerhaeuser said continued weakness in the housing market would likely force it to close plants and make other cutbacks in its wood products division.

Weyerhaeuser's profits dropped sharply in its second fiscal quarter this year, in part because of falling single-family home sales and lower housing prices.

The company said it expects third-quarter earnings in its real estate and related assets segment to come in lower than in the second quarter, along with lower volumes and prices in its timberland segment.