West End sawmill expected this year

Spencer Forest Products LLC expects to open a newly tooled mill

FORKS — The last remaining sawmill to close on the timber-rich West End will be brought back to life by the end of the year, a representative of the site’s new owner said Monday.

Spencer Forest Products LLC expects to open a newly tooled former Allen Logging Co. mill at 176412 U.S. Highway 101 in Jefferson County by December, company construction engineer Rollie Dawson said.

The mill will manufacture softwood, as Allen Logging did, he said.

Dawson would not comment on how many people would be employed or the wage scale.

He said the new company is owned by Florida-based Ralph Spencer, former owner of Ohio-based Mulch Manufacturing Inc., among the largest producers of packaged mulch manufacturing in the U.S.

The 138-acre site on the Hoh River west of Forks sold for $1.25 million, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“Today I sold this landmark; get ready Forks…Log,Log,Log,” Rachel Breed, real estate broker at Keller Williams Olympic real estate agency in Forks, said Saturday on her Facebook page, which includes her listing.

The parcel has more than 57 acres of timberland, “spectacular Hoh River frontage with rain forest setting,” and 81 acres east of Highway 101, according to the listing.

“Combined parcels have a significant stand of merchantable timber,” the listing said.

Dawson confirmed the sale.

“We’re just starting the process of a site-specific build,” he said. “It’s absolutely the first day of the process, and we’ve got a long way to go.”

Spencer Forest Products purchased the parcel from siblings of the late Lloyd Allen, Dawson said.

Allen founded the company when he built a veneer mill on the Hoh in the 1950s, adding a sawmill in 1968, former company President Gerry Lane told Peninsula Daily News in a June 10, 2015, interview.

Drying kilns were added in 1976 and a chipping saw in 1990. When it closed in 2015, Allen Logging was the last production softwood mill west of Port Angeles.

Lane said foreign competition, state and federal timber harvest regulations, a limited wood supply and the low price of foreign logs contributed to the closure.

In 2014, Allen Logging produced 15 million board feet — 35 million in its heyday in the late 1990s — of 8-foot-long 2-by-4s, 4-by-4s and 2-by-6s, plus railroad ties and wood chips, Lane said.

Dawson was optimistic Spencer Forest Products would make a successful business.

“We obviously feel confident that this is something we can accomplish.

“Everyone has their own metrics,” he added.

“We’ve acquired a sawmill site and we are going to redo it, and everything is to be determined as far as how it ends up.”

Dawson said the company has been reviewing a move to the North Olympic Peninsula for the past year.

Spencer has been a entrepreneur his entire life, Dawson said.

“This is something that he’s had a lot of interest in,” he added.

“It’s a labor of love for him, something he believes in. He’s not a country club guy.”

A Sept. 17, 2020, profile of Spencer was written in www.south.prolandscaperusa.com, when Mulch Manufacturing merged with National Storm Recovery to form Sustainable Green Team, a publicly traded company based in Florida.

Spencer said he began specializing in mulch installation after high school, starting a retail mulch store in Ohio that grew to a 26-store chain before moving to Florida and expanding into lumber and mulch manufacturing.

“We get our trees and debris from a variety of different places,” he said.

“Our Arbor Care division has crews that trim or cut down trees. Then when a hurricane or storm hits, our partner National Storm Recovery can take trees that are down and bring them back to convert to mulch,” he said.

“We are decreasing the volume of material that would otherwise continue to fill our nation’s landfills. We are converting our trucking fleet into electric vehicles. Electric cars and trucks are the future.”

In an “on a personal note” question asking Spencer about his car collection, he said he bought a Lamborghini and a Ferrari in his early 20s, owns a 1968 Shelby GT500, and a few Rolls Royces.

“But the Batmobile and the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car were always on my wish list and I got those,” he said.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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