Just as the united states economic recovery seemed to be recovering, two chipboard factories announced shut down this week.
Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc. closed its Monaco plant in Harrisburg on Monday, leaving 120 workers unemployed. And on Tuesday, SierraPine President Jeff Johnson said the company decided to close its Springfield particleboard factory on April 4 and leaving 87 people unemployed. This job losses come when the jobless rate hovers at 7 percent in this city. The company said in a formal statement that it’s closing the Harrisburg factory as part of its decision to get out of the small towable trailer market. Only seven employees will be kept and transferred to another company’s location in Coburg, Latta said.
SierraPine’s employees were notified on Feb. 4 of the pending chipboard plant closure, Johnson said.
Johnson said there’s an oversupply in the market of the particleboard the Springfield plant produces. The chipboard is used in office furniture, cabinetry and countertops. “A lot of furniture production was moved to China in the early 2000s, and there’s just not a really strong market for us,” Johnson said. “There are many particleboard plants have closed in this product since 2000.”
SierraPine’s chipboard plant is being sold to Flakeboard America Ltd., a subsidiary of the Chilean wood products company ARAUCO. ARAUCO bought Flakeboard in June 2012. Flakeboard last month announced it plans to buy SierraPine’s particleboard plants in Springfield and in Martell, Calif., as well as its medium density fiberboard plant in Medford.
SierraPine said they’re aiming to complete the sale by the end of March. Many of SierraPine’s employees were stunned by its decision to shut down the plant because they all assumed that the new owner would continue to operate it, said Sonny Hamar, business representative with the Woodworkers Local Lodge, which represents some of the SierraPine employees.
Johnson said Flakeboard “doesn’t have a real plan now” for the purchased factory, “but they potentially want to look at it for something in the future.” Hamar said after SierraPine employees heard that the plant would be closing, some employees “jumped right out and started looking for work,” but others “are just shocked still.”
Particleboard manufacturer SierraPine has owned the facility since 1999, Johnson said.