Reflecting on 2022: A Great Year for Freres

2022 brought the end of COVID-19 restrictions to our personal liberties and allowed our lives to return to a more normal condition. The pandemic did not claim the life of a Freres family member or a member of the company.

I am grateful the preventative measures we implemented protected everyone from the highly contagious virus.

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The first quarter saw the installation and troubleshooting of a robotic scarf cutting system at the Mass Ply plant. I never tire of watching the dancing robots feed the scarfer and repeat the process on the opposite end of the panel. It’s mesmerizing! The improved scarf joint is of the utmost importance to the performance of our Mass Ply product.

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Later in the year, Plant 6 saw the two-head sander replaced with a new Italian Costa brand six head sander. It is incredibly quiet and accurate, which improves bonding, sizing and reduces adhesive consumption. The old sander will be repurposed at the plywood mill in 2023.

The granddaddy of our 2022 projects was the replacement of our 29-year-old, 25-ton log crane with a new 35-ton capacity Konecranes brand log crane.

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The steel from the new crane was produced in Ukraine and we are incredibly fortunate that the steel left Odessa harbor one week before the Russians invaded the country. We worried the ship would be sunk by the Russians, but it sailed through the Black Sea eventually arriving in Tacoma, Washington.

This crane may be in service for the next 50 years. It has the capacity to deck 4,500 truckloads, which will supply mills for three months through the winter. We should never turn away a log purchase for lack of storage space. The illumination of the crane in the early morning and evening is breathtaking in clear weather.

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July 24 marked the 124th birthday of our company’s founder, T.G. Freres, which we celebrated with the company’s centennial anniversary. On Friday night 450 people had dinner, toured the Mass Ply plant and enjoyed live music, whiskey and cigars. On Sunday afternoon more than 800 people enjoyed a barbecue, live music, games for the kids, face painting and yours truly getting wet in the dunk tank.

A great time was had by all!

That weekend was a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community who has made our family business successful.

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By the end of autumn, the company timberlands salvage logging was completed. The herculean task of replanting almost three million seedlings over two years was accomplished. A drought and extreme heat caused 550,000 trees to be interplanted following abnormal mortality.

I have great respect for the strenuous efforts put forth by our tree planting contractors.
My gratitude runs deep for our loggers and employees who saved our mills from the Labor Day fires and then tirelessly worked to salvage our fire-killed timber.

In the 24 months following Labor Day 2020, the company loggers harvested and shipped 194 million board feet of which 130 million feet, or 67 percent, was fire-killed salvage logs. That’s more than 43,000 truckloads. What an amazing accomplishment under extremely trying conditions.

God bless the hard-working people of the Santiam Canyon.

Our long-time employee Norm Persons celebrated his 75th birthday this fall and retired from the company after 53 years of dedicated service as our veneer plant superintendent and studmill sales guru. The Freres family owes Norm an enormous debt of gratitude. What an amazing man!

The good Lord has blessed our family, community and our company. We give thanks in 2022 and look forward to a bright future in 2023 and beyond.

Best wishes to you and your loved ones this holiday season.


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