OROVILLE – When part of SR97 north of Oroville was designated as a Heavy Haul Corridor last spring it brought the promise of new jobs and business – for at least one company the promise is proving to be true.
Oroville Reload & Reman has hired six new employees in the past six months in order to keep up with demand and is looking to hire at least six more in the near future, according to Emily Rimestad, general manager for the Oroville company. The company reloads goods, mostly wood products, trucked down from Canada on to railcars to be distributed all over the U.S. – that’s the “Reload” part of their name. The “Reman” part takes place inside their plant where they saw and refinish lumber to meet the specific needs of their clients.
Rimestad wrote a letter to Chris Branch, Oroville’s director of Community and Economic Development, describing the economic benefits that resulted from his and the city’s efforts to get the Heavy Haul Corridor designation between the Canadian border and the railhead in Oroville. The designation allows trucks to haul nearly twice as much goods per trip to the railhead as they could before, saving Reman & Reload’s clients thousands of dollars in freight costs.
She said the company has been hiring to keep up with the increase in production demands brought on by the Heavy Haul designation.
“This is happening when there is a major recession taking place in North America. Most ‘forest’ related companies are curtailing/closing their businesses while at the same time we are expanding,” she writes.
The company has three new large clients, Weyerhaeuser, Robert and Dybdahl International and Downie/Selkirk Timber, now reloading out of the Oroville facility.
“On average, an additional five to ten rail cars are loaded each week for Weyerhaeuser,” she said. “We have loaded five rail cars for Robert and Dybdahl International in the month of August and they are increasing their business with us to 14 cars by mid-October.”
Most of the Weyerhaeuser lumber doesn’t stay very long in their large yard before being loaded on to freight cars to travel on the Cascade and Columbia River Railway. Rimestad said an 11-car train had just pulled out of the railhead last Monday morning carrying dimensional lumber from Weyerhaeuser’s Princeton, B.C. mill.
One of their clients brings lumber down to be remanufactured and then it goes back across to Canada where it is eventually shipped overseas to Japan, according to Rimestad.
“We can do it cheaper, that’s why they bring it to us,” she said.
The pay may be lower than it is north of the border, but new hires start at $10 an hour with medical benefits and they are working on getting dental and vision care as well, Rimestad said.
Not only is Reman & Reload reloading lumber for Downie/Selkirk Timber out of Revelstoke, B.C., they are also doing custom finishing for them on their moulding line – taking rough cedar and milling it to a very fine, “glass-smooth” finish on it.
“This work is added value and again, has enabled us to grow our business. We are confident our business will continue to grow as businesses recognize the cost benefits associated with the Heavy Haul Corridor and service we have to offer. Clearly it is working well and will continue to provide a strong economic base for the community of Oroville,” Rimestad said.
Reman & Reload had 14 million board feet of lumber in their yard just a couple months ago, now there down to about six million board feet, according to Rimestad.
“They sent a lot down because of the fire and there has been a lot of export orders,” she said.
The Heavy Haul designation has also helped out local trucking outfits, she said. Oroville Transit, Reload and Reman is one of their main customers, has seen their business increase, as has Pro Truck out of Canada.
Oroville Reman & Reload, whose parent company is B.C.-based Gorman Brothers, is also courting a California client she hopes will bring their business to the company. In this case the product, which Rimestad says she can’t talk about at this point, would come by rail from California and get reloaded onto trucks heading for Canada. A company near Sumas on the west side of the state is also competing for the contract that would mean a big increase in production.
“The product would be going to Princeton and we’re one and a half hours shorter to get there,” she said.