Oroville, Wash.—Four miles south of the Canadian border, the Oroville Reman & Reload division of Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd. thrives.
A short two-hour drive north across the border in Westbank, B.C., Gorman Bros. Lumber specializes in production of 1-inch Spruce and Lodgepole Pine boards—S4S or pattern stock. The two operations work together to fill customer orders from all over North America, Canada, Japan, Mexico and other countries around the world.
Situated on 20 acres of land, the Oroville facility began operating in 1964 as a result of the U.S. government putting a duty on pre-assembled fruit boxes being manufactured in Westbank. While the lumber components continued to be produced in British Columbia, the assembly was moved to Oroville.
“Even as far back as the 1960s, the border has had its issues,” said Mark Bordwell, general manager of th
In 2005, the Oroville site handled more than 500 rail cars loaded with lumber.
e Oroville facility. “However, Oroville Reman & Reload is a good example of how businesses in both Canada and the United States benefit from an open border.”
The Oroville plant, formerly a fruit bin and pallet manufacturing facility that marketed to the agriculture industry, has changed its services dramatically since it opened. In 2005 the facility reloaded more than 200 rail boxcars containing wood pellets. It also handled more than 500 rail cars loaded with lumber. Additionally, the Oroville site received 2,500 truckloads of various products last year.
“We take advantage of the border both ways,” noted Bordwell. “In addition to transporting by truck, we use Cascade and Columbia railroads to send orders southbound. This short route is owned by Rail America, which hooks us up to Burlington Northern/Santa Fe. We’re capable of moving product for our distributors to any destination in North America.”
Bordwell added that Oroville is equipped for high volume traffic, has the capability to load boxcars in two pla
This is the reload yard at Oroville Reman & Reload.
ces, can load center-beam rails in four onsite places, and can load trucks in six onsite locations.
The Reman/Reload division not only handles lumber from the Gorman Bros. mill in Westbank, but over the years has filled orders from such customers as Weyerhaueser and Riverside Forest Products (now Tolko). The Oroville plant features a 60,000-square-foot lumber storage building.
Between 6 and 8 million board feet of inventory is maintained at Gorman’s Oroville site for the purpose of either reloading or processing. Other available services include precision end-trimming, priming, mini-packing, bar coding and custom packaging.
The 48-person Oroville staff works two shifts per day in a relaxed, but safety-conscious atmosphere.
“Half of our employees have at least seven years’ tenure, which translates into a lot of knowledge of the industry,” said Kim Hurst, moulder operator, who’s been with the company for 24 years. “Each employee is responsible for quality control, and each one takes great pride in knowing their jobs.”
Mark Bordwell is pictured with Ken Appel, who handles moulding.
Thanks to dedicated employees and continuous equipment upgrades, Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd., has innovatively carved new market niches with each passing decade. At the Oroville facility, for example, a Weinig moulder was installed within the past two years that boosted the plant’s production of 1x4’s to 90,000 board feet per day.
At Oroville, the plant is also equipped with a random length trimmer on the short board line where lumber is cut into shorter lengths, regraded and repackaged for sale. A rip saw, which was custom-built by Gorman Bros., enables the production of board lengths ranging from 1”x2” to 1”x12”. This is possible due to the blade’s ability to randomly rip wide boards.
Another service at the Oroville site is the application of priming to No. 2 and No. 3 Common boards, which are produced by the parent company in Westbank.
Gorman Bros. President Bill Reedy explained, “We take in the Gorman No. 2 boards at our Oroville plant and prime them on all four sides with a water-based paint. By doing so, we present the customer with the high quality Gor
Marty Smith works as a moulder and infeed forklift operator for the firm.
man board, but without the higher cost of on-the-job priming.”
The Washington facility improves the appearance of rough lumber by processing it through a high-speed moulder. The Gorman name is then imprinted on both ends of the boards, followed by a final coat of wax. This seals the ends of the boards, which reduces the wood’s tendency to crack in dry climates.
Sawdust and shavings are sold to pellet manufacturers, so Oroville generates virtually no waste.
Only 5 to 10 percent of the lumber is air-dried here. Instead, Gorman Bros. operates 21 dry kilns at low temperatures, utilizing a slow drying schedule to produce a more stable board.
Not unlike the entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by Gorman’s founding brothers, John and Ross, the leaders of the Oroville Reman & Reload division thrive on developing new services, while maintaining the firm’s integrity and re
Cynthia Turner is a ripline operator for the company.
putation. Key members of Oroville’s staff include: Bill Reedy, president; Ross Gorman, secretary/treasurer; Mark Bordwell, general manager; and Lisa Bordwell, office manager.
“At the Oroville facility, we are unique because we’re just so flexible,” Bordwell said. “We’ll mix and match orders for a customer in whatever way is needed to fill the customer’s needs. We simply do what needs to be done to get the job done right to please our customer.”
Robert Sam loads wood pellets onto a boxcar.
Shelly Gerken, Andrew Martin and Val Smith work the moulder outfeed.