Freres Lumber Co., Inc, headquartered in Lyons Oregon, has a unique and frustrating problem. Freres Lumber was approved for a $5 million PPP loan on April 27, and the company said it intends to spend all of it on payroll. The problem is that one of the Oregon’s largest wood products manufacturers cannot find enough employees to operate at full capacity. According to Freres Lumber President, Rob Freres, “We’re down one shift in our veneer plant and one shift in our plywood plant,” People aren’t showing up, probably out of some anxiety due to the COVID thing.” We are operating at “60% of capacity”. To get back to full production capacity they need to hire an additional 100 employees. In spite of an unemployment rate in Oregon of 11.2% in June, Freres is not getting applications for their openings which includes structural engineers, CNC operators, electricians and truck drivers as well as unskilled workers. The company provides all necessary PPE and has set up its facility for social distancing or installed Plexiglas separators where social distancing is not possible.
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Freres Lumber got a $5 million PPP loan; now it can’t find enough employees