Port sees logs headed to Japan for first time in decade

By Jim Davis, February 2, 2015, Everett Herald Business Journal

For the first time in nearly a decade, a ship loaded with timber left the Port of Everett headed for Japan.

The vessel, Andalucian Zephyr, was loaded in December with 2.2 million board feet, or 11,000 tons, of Douglas firs at the Port. The ship then went to Longview where it was filled with more logs and then headed for Matsunaga, Japan.

The Port of Everett worked in partnership with Forest Marketing Enterprises of Everett for the delivery to Japan, which traditionally offers some of the best bids for West Coast timber.

“The goal in-house for awhile has been to resurrect the Japanese business,” said Eric Warren, president of Forest Marketing. “The benefit it would bring here is far-reaching.”

Warren said the logs are being evaluated by Toa Construction in Matsunga. He believes the local timber is better than logs in areas in southern Washington that have been harvested heavily.

If it appeals to the Japanese, more shipments could be started by the third or fourth quarter this year.

“It takes that long to get something started and going,” Warren said. “Again our hope is we planted the seed that’s going to grow and be good opportunity for the people in this business.”

The Port of Everett used to be a major supplier of logs bound for Asia during the 1990s, but the market crashed in 1996 and then all but dried up about a decade ago.

In the past three years, Forest Marketing Enterprises with the help of the Port has restarted shipments from the Port to China and South Korea.

Forest Marketing shipped 24 million board feet to Asia two years ago and, last year, the business shipped 32 million board feet, Warren said.

Forest Marketing buys logs from private landowners and last year purchased timber from 450 sellers including Weyerhauser.

The logs were shipped down the Snohomish River by Dunlap Towing and stored at Miller Shingle log yard.

Warren credited Carl Wollebek, chief operating officer at the Port, for working persistently to open the doors for this first shipment.

“This log delivery from Everett to Japan represents more than just a shipment; it’s a symbol of jobs and commerce flowing in Snohomish County,” Wollebeck said in a statement from the Port. “The Port is very fortunate to have industry partners such as Miller Shingle, Dunlap Towing, Stevedoring Services of America and the (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) to be able to support the local log industry spearheaded by Formark.

“Japan is a very quality conscious market and the return is a very positive step.”

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