Murphy Plywood in process of buying Foster mill


October 18, 2017

The Murphy Company is in the process of purchasing Foster Plywood from Weyerhaeuser, but the deal is not done yet.

“We’ve got intentions,” said Murphy President John Murphy Sr. “We’ve signed an agreement with Weyerhaeuser to purchase.”

Murphy is in the due diligence period of the purchasing process, Murphy said, and it’s looking good.

He expects to finish up by the end of November and take possession of Foster Plywood in December, while noting that it is “not done till it’s done.”

The Murphy Company has been peeling veneer since the late 1960s, Murphy said. This will be the company’s third veneer peeling plant.

The company operates five mills located in White City, Rogue River, Sutherlin, Eugene and Elma, Wash., producing veneer, plywood and engineered wood, selling its products on the open market. Its headquarters are in Eugene.

“We’re family-owned, privately owned,” Murphy said. “We’re not lumber people as such. We make engineered lumber.”

According to the company’s website, Murphy has logged and merchandised timber throughout the 20th century. Over time, it became an open-market veneer supplier and began manufacturing softwood plywood, engineered wood and hardwood plywood. Today, it has evolved into a veneer specialist. The company employs some 650, including technicians and professionals.

The fourth-generation company was founded by Edward N. Murphy, and Murphy and his son, John Murphy Jr., remain involved in all aspects of the business.

“We’re smaller than most of our competitors, which means we can be responsive,” they said on the website. “Being accessible to customers and employees gives us the insights to use our flexibility to innovate solutions quickly and cost-effectively.”

Last week, the Murphy Company began interviewing current employees and others as part of its due diligence process to ensure the community has a qualified workforce in place, Murphy said. “We’d really like to have the present workforce stay with us.”

“We’re excited about the enthusiasm in the community,” Murphy said. “We like the small communities, the rural communities; and I think we have an opportunity to make that plant successful. We’re looking at a bright future and long-term investment for our company. We want the experience of that plant.”

Foster Plywood currently employs approximately 115.

Weyerhaeuser owns or controls nearly 13 million acres of timberland in the United States and under licenses in Canada, generating $6.4 billion in net sales and employing 10,400 people. It has operated Foster Plywood since purchasing Willamette Industries in 2002.

Foster is located in a timber basket that Weyerhaeuser could not take advantage of, Murphy said. Because of its role in timber exports, it cannot purchase public timber.

Murphy hopes to take advantage of other opportunities with the plant, but that will come later, Murphy said. Initially, it will continue as it operates now, reopening the way it closes down after the purchase.

Murphy said his company is “very supportive” of local communities, with fund-raising efforts, the ball teams, the Scouts and other local efforts.


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