Chehalis-Based Mill Company Remains Viable Despite COVID-19 Impacts

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Cascade Hardwood started 50 years ago with its Cascade Mill and five employees. Today the company has two mills, is weathering the pandemic economic downturn nicely, and its two mills employ about 210 employees.

Along with its Chehalis operations, the company runs a mill in Port Angeles. Both mills focus on providing quality alder, ash and maple hardwood lumber for use in furniture and cabinet industries across the world.

Cascade Hardwood purchased logs from both private owners and large timber operations. The company basically turns logs into usable lumber. The company is proud of its reliance on renewable timber resources, following all federal, state and local regulations on timber harvesting.

“ (This) helps us provide long-term economic benefits for the areas where we operate, as well as ensuring that the forests preserve our wood resource for future generations to meet their own needs. In Washington and Oregon, a large part of school funding comes from responsible forest management, something we both take pride in and take very seriously,” according to its website.

Larry Eck, Cascade Hardwood’s Chehalis plant general manager, said times are tricky, but his company is thriving.

“Everybody’s going through the same thing — a lot of unknowns,” Eck said. “Fortunately we have a great crew and we didn’t lose any production in 2020 and 2021.”

Eck said he considers his crew “troopers” and “warriors.” He said while some mills have a hard time securing quality employees, Cascade Hardwood’s team is committed to the company.

Cascade Hardwood Chief Financial Officer Don Kuckuck agrees that the company’s employees are stellar.

“Both in the manufacturing and the office, people have really worked well together,” Kuckuck said. “They really stepped up to minimize Covid exposure. They’ve taken it seriously and people have been flexible in their work schedules.

The company has also been able to avoid the volatility of the timber industry.

“You don’t see the big variances in prices,” he said. “Our prices tend to rise slowly and go back down slowly. While softwood has been up 300 percent over a short period of time, our prices went up 50 percent at that time.”

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