PenPly to furlough about 92 this week

PORT ANGELES — Peninsula Plywood, which began making plywood in March, will stop production for one week, furloughing about 92 employees from Monday through Friday to allow it to clear out backed-up inventory.

PenPly President Josh Renshaw said the roots of the “tough decision” to cut work and pay for nearly 60 percent of the mill’s 154 employees were in the May 15 fire that caused an estimated $50,000 worth of damage to the Marine Drive mill’s control room for its two boilers.

Although the mill was back in production within a week of the blaze, customer confidence had been singed.

“When we had the fire here, we came back up very quickly, but some customers were leery of giving a plant that just came out of a fire orders . . . so we were producing against very slow sales because of the fire,” Renshaw said.

Now, “the customer base has come back to us. It’s just not robust enough to sell the inventory we have and sell new orders,” he added.

Production will start again on Monday, Aug. 16.

The 62 employees in the shipping and finishing departments will stay on the job this week.

“It’s flushing money tied up in inventory back to cash,” Renshaw said, estimating that the mill will gain from $200,000 to $300,000 through the furlough.

“You just can’t tie up your cash that long.

“The orders we have on the books for the next week should draw down the inventory.”

The decision to furlough employees wasn’t easy, Renshaw said.

“It’s not what we want to do,” he said.

“We know people’s lives are affected by this.

“We’re just looking at long-term security for everybody’s jobs.”

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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