Mike Burrill

Company will lay off 120 workers

WHITE CITY -- Eugene F. Burrill Lumber Co. will close its White Citystud mill early next year and lay off 120 workers.

The decision announced Tuesday follows a six-month effort to sell theoperation.

Today the lumber industry favors more cost-efficient operationsthat grow and harvest their own timber, said Mike Burrill, president.We depend on outside private and government sources for our timber,making it difficult to remain competitive.

He said the closure is not a bankruptcy.

The parent corporation, Eugene F. Burrill Lumber Co., owns several otherreal estate and business operations, including the Crater Lake Plaza shoppingarea off Highway 62 in Medford. Those operations are unaffected by the closure.

The mill, which manufactures white fir and Douglas fir studs, was startedin 1941 by Mike Burrill's father, Eugene F. Burrill, and located in JacksonCounty in 1942. It moved to its present location at 8425 Agate Road in WhiteCity in 1953.

It's the last independently owned mill in the county.

Burrill Lumber Co. employed nearly 300 people a decade ago before reductionsin federal timber supplies started to erode the industry.

Federal forest agencies based in Grants Pass and Medford had historicallysold up to 500 million board feet of timber a year -- enough to build roughly25,000 homes. The volume plunged to less than a tenth of that in recentyears as efforts were stepped up to protect the northern spotted owl andother natural resources.

Timber employment in Jackson County, which peaked at 6,360 jobs in 1988,had fallen by 2,000 jobs in the latest report from the state EmploymentDepartment.

Over the past several years, Medford Corp., once the county's largestemployer, closed two lumber mills and its huge plywood plant in north Medford.KOGAP Manufacturing Co. closed its Medford plywood plant in south Medford.Croman Corp. closed its mill in Ashland two years ago.

If a buyer for Burrill Lumber Co. is not found, the company will considerauctioning the equipment and redeveloping the 200-acre mill site, Burrillsaid.

He said the company is helping its 120 workers find new jobs. The companydid not announce a specific closure date.

We have a tradition of great employees at the mill, Burrillsaid. More than half of our workforce has been with us for 10 yearsand some for over 35 years.

Today'sBusiness Index,