Iron Wood Group LLC is gearing up to produce veneer for the plywood industry at a refurbished mill southwest of Dolores.
CEO Jeff Bunnell was granted a high-impact permit for the business by Montezuma County commissioners. The sawmill property on Road T was also rezoned from commercial to heavy industrial.
Iron Wood will employ 20 to 30 workers and is currently hiring staff, Bunnell said. Applications may be picked up at the Cortez Workforce Center.
A logging crew is working in the San Juan National Forest in the Chicken Creek area and near Bayfield.
The mill will produce veneer sheets created by peeling logs on a lathe.
The sheets will be trucked to western U.S. factories where they are pressed together to make plywood or used for other products requiring veneer.
“We are close to start-up,” Bunnell said. “Right now, we are in the testing phase and have logs ready to go.”
The rebuilt plant on Road T was previously a plywood factory many decades ago.
More truck traffic is expected for Dolores as loggers make their way back and forth to the forest, Bunnell said. Trucker safety is strictly enforced and is written into the contracts.
After studying the logging potential of Colorado, Bunnell and other families in the industry moved from Oregon to Southwest Colorado to start up the business.
“We love the area and want to be here for a long time,” he said.
Iron Wood is part of a resurgence in logging in the area. Montrose Forest Products recently picked up larger ponderosa pine sales in the San Juan Forest to ship to their Montrose lumber mill.
Aspen Wood Products has rebuilt the mill destroyed by fire in Mancos, and the plant is again producing excelsior products from locally logged aspen.