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Logging contractors in Maine face downfall after mill layoffs

Logging Contractors facing downfall
Logging Contractors facing downfall
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 3:14 PM EDT
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MONROE, Maine (WABI) - 75 layoffs were announced last week at the Sappi mill in Westbrook and 60 people will lose their jobs at the Pixelle mill in Jay.

That leaves loggers looking for more work.

“It’s been a domino effect. The Jay mill had its explosion back in April, and I think the layoffs that have just been announced there were all expected. And then the layoffs at the Sappi facility in Westbrook has been what I’d call a real kick in the teeth,” said Dana Doran, Executive Director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.

With 135 total layoffs between the two facilities, the demand for lumber is down, which means it’s being sold at a lower price.

“What that means is job reduction, loss of income, inability to operate,” said Doran.

In a survey with their members, the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine says nearly two thirds of contractors are facing revenue loss and uncertainty with their business moving forward.

Some contractors, like EJ & Sons, have temporarily stopped logging with hopes of returning to work in the fall.

“We want to be loggers, but we understand that this fall, things may not be any better than they are today. And they’re not good today,” said Duane Jordan, Owner of EJ & Sons.

“Just understand that we’re not just out here cutting wood and selling it everyday. There are a lot of business dynamics,” said Gavin McClain Owner of CTL Land Management Services.

Loggers are concerned if prices and demand for lumber returns.

With the hit many contractors have taken, they're not convinced the industry will be able to bounce back right away.

“Logging in Maine is about a $650 million annual economic impact. Again, if that money goes away contractors can’t pay their employees, they can’t invest in their equipment, and they need to sell that to be able to stay afloat or they go out of business all together. You don’t bring those businesses back overnight. These are multi-generational businesses. If they go away, they will not return,” said Doran.

The industry is also hoping the federal government will provide 2 point 5 billion dollars in relief funds to assist loggers across the country.

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