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Sun Mountain Lumber feeling impact of lumber industry closures in Montana but still going strong

"It’s really put a hurt on all the mills in Montana. This one and the one we have in Livingston, both."
Sun Mountain Lumbar Inc. in Deer Lodge
Posted at 7:43 AM, Apr 04, 2024

DEER LODGE — The recent news of the closures at a couple of Montana lumber mills has not been good news for Montana’s forest products industry. The owner of Sun Mountain Lumber in Deer Lodge says that it’s having an impact on his business.

"It’s really put a hurt on all the mills in Montana. This one and the one we have in Livingston, both," says Sherm Anderson, owner of the family-run business in Deer Lodge and Livingston.

Anderson has been shipping the sawdust and wood shavings byproducts to Roseburg Forest Products in Missoula where they make particle board out of the excess materials.

"We take out of here as many as 20 truckloads a day," says Anderson, adding that for now a short-term solution has been made with a lumber mill in Columbia Falls.

"For us here and in Livingston, that’s a big deal because we had no other place outside of transporting them over to the coast of somewhere like that. It’s not feasible," says Anderson.

But he says despite the issue of finding a long-term solution for the byproducts, his plant is doing well.

"Our product that we produce here is sought after pretty hard because it’s slow-growing timber, so, it’s very tight-grained. It’s very strong, It’s very straight," says Anderson.

The majority of the products from Sun Mountain are shipped to Texas and used in the construction of homes. And Anderson says he’s not worried about the fate of his mills.

The state-of-the-art equipment at Sun Mountain Lumber allows the mill which is one of the largest employers in the Deer Lodge Valley to compete with other larger mills in Oregon and Washington.

"I think we’re okay because of the location we have and we’ve kept our plant up."