After 96 years, a Tacoma-based, family-owned wood products company soon will have a new, Canadian owner.
McFarland Cascade Holdings Inc. announced Friday that it will be bought by Montreal-based Stella-Jones Inc. for $230 million. The sale is expected to close this month.
“We have a great tradition and legacy and a wonderful company, and a reputation of which we’re very proud,” said Corry McFarland, who is co-CEO with his brother Greg. “My brother and I are the third generation. We have nobody else in the family coming on who is interested in running the business.”
Founded in Idaho in 1916, McFarland Cascade produces utility poles as well as treated lumber for outdoor home projects, including composite decking, railings and related accessories. The company located its corporate headquarters on Tacoma’s Tideflats in the 1980s.
It employs about 200 people, depending on the season, on 43 acres there, Corry McFarland said, and he knows of no plans to change that.
“Absolutely not. I hope not,” he said. “We’re retaining the property and leasing it to Stella on a 25-year-lease. This is a very large and great facility. It’s state of the art. We’ve invested a lot of money here. We have a great team, a great crew, working in the plant and the offices.”
Eric Vachon, Stella-Jones’ CFO, said Friday that his company still is completing its due diligence on the planned sale, so he couldn’t be specific about plans for McFarland’s Tacoma operations. “But I will say, McFarland is a good addition to our network, so our plan is to operate it (as is) going forward,” he said.
Vachon said Stella-Jones employs about 1,000 people in Canada and the U.S., and the McFarland acquisition will add about 300. McFarland owns three wood-treating facilities in addition to Tacoma, in Oregon, Mississippi and British Columbia.
Stella-Jones has grown rapidly in the past decade, Canada’s Financial Post reported Friday, but buying McFarland Cascade is its biggest get yet.
The Post quoted several analysts favorable on the sale, calling McFarland Cascade “the Holy Grail” and “a coveted investment” because of “underinvestment in power transmission and distribution grids in North America over the past 20 years.” In other words, upgrades will have to happen as things wear out, and Stella-Jones is close to owning the market to supply poles and other supplies.
McFarland said Stella was an ideal fit. “We share a facility in Canada where we produce utility poles. We’ve talked about this possibility many times,” he said.
McFarland said he and his brother told employees about the sale on Thursday afternoon. Many tears were shed, he said.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster over the last nine months, as we went through this process,” he said, then paused. “Just thinking about the legacy.”
The family retained the company’s passive assets, including a lot of real estate, McFarland said. They formed Cedar Management Co. to handle them. And he said he and his brother, who are in their mid-60s, will stick around Pierce County.Kathleen Cooper: 253-597-8546 email@example.com