Linden Lumber lays off 85 workers

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 8, 2007

LINDEN &8212; Linden Lumber Company announced the layoff of approximately 85 workers Monday, due to &8220;extremely poor market conditions and limited working capital availability.&8221;

The company made the announcement to their employees via a memo from Chief Operating Officer Hugh Overmyer. An employee of Linden Lumber Company made the memo available to The Demopolis Times late Monday evening. Overmyer could not be reached for comment.

The memo stated that effective Monday the company will begin operating the sawmill and sorter/stacker operations as one shift. The company will also implement a reduction in manufacturing levels at the unfinished flooring mill.

Overmyer said in the letter that the company will notify all affected employees no later than the close of business on Wednesday.

Employees affected by the layoff, described in the memo as being &8220;downsized and/or restructured,&8221; include those working the following operations:

Log/yard/timber operations in Hickory, Miss.

Trucking-refuse and logs

Log yard in Linden

Sawmill

Sorter/stacker (lumber inspectors not affected)

Lumberyard

Dry kiln (operators not affected)

Flooring mill

Inspection shed (lumber inspectors not affected)

The county commission last month unanimously approved a loan of $7 million to Linden Lumber Company in an effort to stave off foreclosure and to save approximately 425 jobs at the site.

The loan has not yet been made. The county is still awaiting the audit results.

The commission has the authority to annul the loan agreement if they are not satisfied with the findings of any of the audits or restructuring agreements.

The loan was to be supplied by only after four stipulations were met to the satisfaction of the county:

An audit of Linden Lumber conducted by an independent agency.

County approval of the restructuring of the loan with Wachovia Bank for the operating line.

County approval of restructuring of the loan with Federal Land Bank.

An independent audit of the assets the county would be taking mortgage on.

Under the agreement, the county will use a bond issue to borrow up to $7 million. They will in turn loan the money to Linden Lumber with an annual interest rate of 5 percent, not to exceed 6.5 percent. The terms of the loan extend for 20 years.

During a tour of the facilities of Linden Lumber last month, Overmyer told The Demopolis Times that he expected no layoffs but would not rule out cutting personnel expenses through attrition.

When Linden Lumber leaders approached the county commission about the loan, they first offered to turn the business over to the county and walk away. Overmyer said that their main concern was protecting the 425 jobs.

During a public meeting last month on the loan, employees from Linden Lumber showed up and overflowed a county courtroom to show their support for the loan.

Times sports editor Brandon Glover contributed to this report.