New sawmill in Frederickson will employ 150 workers

The nation’s second largest lumber producer says it plans to begin construction of a new sawmill in Frederickson next spring.

Sierra Pacific Industries said it plans to begin grading and site preparation work on the 125-acre mill site within two weeks with actual mill construction starting by spring. The mill site is part of a 250-acre tract the forest products company acquired last summer from the Port of Tacoma and several property owners near the port’s Frederickson Industrial Development.

The Anderson, California-based company said it will divide the remaining 125 acres into six industrial parcels and offer them for sale to other companies.

The mill, the fourth one Sierra Pacific will own in Washington, expects to begin production of wooden studs for residential construction in 2016. The company owns and operates other mills in Aberdeen, Mount Vernon and Centralia.

When the mill’s first phase is complete, the company will employ about 150 workers at the mill site. Further expansion could happen later depending on the demand for Sierra Pacific’s products. Hiring for the mill is expected to begin early in 2016.

Privately held Sierra Pacific has quietly emerged as the second largest lumber producer in the country and the nation’s largest millwork maker. The third-generation company owns and manages nearly 1.9 million acres of timberland in Washington and California. The logs for the Frederickson mill will be sourced from both government and private lands, said Lisa Perry, the company’s community relations manager.

The logs will arrive by truck to the mill. The finished lumber will be shipped out largely by rail, said Perry. A Tacoma Rail spur adjoins the mill site.

The log trucks will use existing arterials to access the mill, said the Sierra Pacific spokeswoman. They will not use roads through nearby residential areas, she said.

The Frederickson industrial area was once the site of an explosives plant. The Port of Tacoma bought a large portion of the site more than 40 years ago with the intent of creating a new industrial area for the county. Other nearby landholders also developed their land for industry.

The area has become the home of a major Boeing plant where the company builds wing and tail components for its commercial aircraft from both metal and composite materials. The area also is the site of a large composite materials plant operated by Japan’s Toray Industries that produces composite tape for aerospace and other purposes. That tape is baked into shapes used in the aircraft, auto and sporting goods industries.

Frederickson is also the site of several large distribution warehouses and a concrete products plant that produced liners for Seattle’s new Alaskan Way tunnel.