MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Boise Cascade is adding 40 positions to its Western Oregon Region mills in Medford, White City and Willamina.
The Medford Mail Tribune reports the new hires plus nine people recalled from layoffs will boost Boise's regional employee count to 580.
Boise had cut its staff in the region last October because of a prolonged housing slump and financial hard times. Boise Cascade spokesman R.J. Roberts said the wood products firm has increased market share for its plywood and engineered wood panels both in domestic and Canadian markets, which has created a need to produce more veneer.
Wes Hunt, 29, was glad to get the phone call telling him to come back to work at the Medford plywood plant after volunteering to be laid off last October.
"It was my first real job," he said. "I was excited to come back and see everyone. There were others on unemployment for a long time, and they need insurance for their families."
Tim Cochran, associate editor of the wood products journal Random Lengths, said demand for Western fir plywood increased after Georgia-Pacific closed two pine plywood plants in Arkansas and Florida last November, and a plywood plant in Chile burned down this month.
"People in Southern California, for example, used to buying Southern pine, were all of a sudden seeing prices going up and started looking to the north," he said. "Fir plywood is more attractive now, and Boise is particularly keyed into servicing that market. Murphy Plywood (in Rogue River) is expanding to capitalize on this too."
The composite price for Western fir plywood rose to $507 per 1,000 square feet last week from $470 on Dec. 30. During the same two-week period, the composite price for Southern pine plywood went from $456 from $505. The broader composite price for structural panels rose from $305 to $329.
Operations at the Medford plant increased from 24 hours a day, five days a week, to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said plant superintendent Kevin Moore.
"We've been in a curtailed state since we hit our peak five years ago," Moore said. "We had to throttle back. Now we're going to kick it in and go."
Roberts said Boise-Cascade received 700 applications during a three-day job fair this month.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press