Linden Lumber cuts 125 jobs

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, November 20, 2008

For most employees at Linden Lumber, Thursday was their last day of work. The county’s second-largest employer laid off the majority of its workforce, sending 125 workers home.

“This layoff is an emergency reaction due to an unforeseen drastic reduction in orders of hardwood lumber and hardwood flooring,” a press release from Linden Lumber said. “Reduced worldwide demand of the company’s traditional product mix is forcing the company to restructure its entire product line.”

The company was a leading manufacturer of southern hardwoods including red oak, white oak and ash with vertically-integrated operations in procurement, sawmills, kiln-drying and logistical support. Founded in 1955, the company supplies products for custom cabinetry, furniture, molding, and flooring applications under the “Red Crown” brand. With excess of 3 million board-feet of kiln capacity and over 80 million board-feet of production capacity, it is one of the largest hardwood sawmill facilities in the southern U.S.

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“This is a very unfortunate and sad situation, however, when worldwide shipments of our products came to a halt recently, it left us with no choice,” Hugh Overmyer, Vice President of the Company explained. “We are hopeful we will see an increase in orders during the first quarter of 2009 and be in a position to recall some or all of these displaced employees. In the meantime, the Company is restructuring itself by focusing on products which are currently selling well in the domestic market.”

Linden Lumber has been the largest employer in the Linden area.

“I am just deeply saddened about this,” said Linden’s mayor Mitzi Gates. “I feel for the families, especially going into the holiday season. I know that Linden Lumber has done everything they can do to avoid this, but with the economy and the housing market in a downturn it affects everything they do.”

Overmyer stated he believes the entire hardwood industry has been negatively impacted by the continued domestic housing crisis and worldwide financial turmoil. “Many mills in the industry are experiencing both temporary and permanent cut backs that include total plant closures,” he said. “This crisis has no favorites in the industry. All mills are being negatively affected in some form or fashion.”

Gates said that Economic Development Director Debra Fox has been working with David Echols of the Alabama Development Office to find help and new jobs for the laid-off workers.

“”He sent a rapid response team to Linden the minute we heard about the layoffs,” said Gates. “They have been offering their services to Linden Lumber and the employees.”

The Alabama Development Office is a state agency responsible for recruiting industry, promoting international trade and creating jobs.