Lumber Community Voices: Chuck Roady
What does the lumber industry and your mill mean to your community?
F. H. Stolze Land and Lumber Company has been a part of the Flathead Valley in Montana since 1912, and the softwood lumber industry is hugely important to the area as a whole. We have 130 employees, and I’ve seen multiple generations come through the mill – many of our folks have worked here for more than 25 years. They and their families all depend on our doors staying open and the business staying strong. When our employees do well, so do the local businesses and community as a whole.
Why is fair trade important for the lumber industry?
In 2016, before the U.S. enforced duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports, we did our best to deal with unfair competition from Canada, but the deck was stacked against us.
Canada subsidizes its lumber industry. Canadian producers can sell their lumber in the U.S. market far below value which harms the U.S. lumber industry. The duties enforced by the U.S. last year offset the advantage Canada gives its producers, but more importantly it gives producers like me a level playing field to compete.
How has your mill grown since the duties were enforced?
The duties have given me the confidence to make the right improvements and investments in the mill. We’ve been able to hire more workers, improve our facilities and produce more lumber. We’re more efficient, more sustainable and our workers are better taken care of because we’ve been able to make the right investments that help us compete.
We installed a new sawmill stacker and sorter bins, which made us more efficient overall, and we’ve managed to nearly eliminate materials being taken to the landfill thanks to a new classification system. We also improved health insurance benefits and even extended paid vacation time to our long-time employees.
Is there anything about the industry that you think might surprise people?
When folks think of the lumber industry – they think of lumberjacks! While there are still many lumberjacks around, our industry is constantly utilizing new high-tech innovations that allow us to achieve the most volume and value from each log and produce the lumber products that are in greatest demand for the American people. The right technology can often increase production by more than 60 percent!