Western Forest Products (WFP) employees were back at work Monday (Jan. 19), as the Ladysmith Sawmill on Ludlow Road returned to full capacity.
Operations at the mill were temporarily shut down Dec. 5 due to a downturn in the Chinese market.
WFP spokeswoman Amy Spencer says that between 75 and 85 people were affected by the temporary curtailment, and they are all back at work this week.
Spencer says some employees came in for regular maintenance and shipping work during the shutdown, but there were times when there was no one at the mill.
The Ladysmith Sawmill is back in operation because it has received new orders for lumber from China.
“The Chinese market still remains challenging,” said Spencer. “The products that come out of that mill are primarily for the Chinese market, but we were able to secure a two-month order file, which means we were able to bring everyone back to work. And it will go on, of course, beyond two months — that was just sort of the impetus to get it started up.”
Spencer says they began phoning workers last week to advise them that the mill would be re-opening on Monday.
“This all happened late last week, so as soon as we found out, we made the phone calls to our crew to get them back in for today,” Spencer said Monday morning. “It’s never in our interest to have a mill down, so we were excited to get it up and going as soon as possible.”
This mill produces what is called commodity lumber, such as the two-by-fours you find at a lumber store. The products are primarily sold to China, and Spencer says that WFP is working to be flexible and offer diversity so that it can respond to the market.
“It’s the same with all our mills; the industry is very reliant upon what happens in the global market, so they do remain challenging, but we’re working on our ability to be flexible, and in this case, we were able to produce a slightly different size to meet the needs of new customers,” she explained.
The WFP Saltair Sawmill on Raven Road was not affected by the shutdown.