KETCHIKAN - An Oregon-based timber industry expert and a group of partners are working to buy the veneer mill built by bankrupt Gateway Forest Products before it gets auctioned off piece by piece.
Philip Tedder, whose experience includes timber mill operations and timber economics consulting, said he's been in contact with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to discuss a purchase, which his group hopes to accomplish soon.
"It's in the early stages, and we'd really like to get this thing moving quickly to stop this auction," Tedder said. "Once a mill is auctioned off piecemeal, it's gone forever."
Tedder didn't identify the partners. They plan to form a company to purchase the veneer mill and, if successful, some would come to Ketchikan to operate the mill, he said.
"I have a group of folks who are very knowledgeable in the production of veneer and plywood," Tedder said, adding that they also have a history of turning around wood products companies.
Tedder himself is a principal partner in Cordova, Ore.-based Resource Economics LLC, a timber economics research, consulting and appraisal firm.
According to Resource Economics, Tedder's experience includes serving most recently as president and chief operating officer of the Seattle-based Pacific Lumber & Shipping Co., and earlier as senior vice president and general manager for the Seneca group of timber companies.
The Gateway Forest Products veneer mill is on the block after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization case was dismissed April 19 by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Donald MacDonald.
Bankruptcy court filings show Gateway's liabilities topping $45 million, with more than $15 million owed to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.
The company tried, but failed, to find new financing and develop a financial reorganization plan.
The commercial and industrial auctioneer James G. Murphy Co. is scheduled to sell off a wide range of veneer mill equipment July 16-18 at the Ward Cove mill site. Included are sorters, chippers, stackers, a veneer lathe, excavators, loaders and trucks.
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