SDS Lumber Company is partnering with an international financial advisory firm to assist with the company’s plans to divest its and sister company Stevenson Land Company’s corporate assets, Columbia Gorge News has learned.
A sales brochure provided to Columbia Gorge News gives insight into how SDS Lumber Company, based in Bingen, plans to market its assets to potential investors. The brochure shows that SDS has retained New York-based Perella Weinberg Partners to serve as financial adviser in connection with a potential transaction with the lumber company.
The four-page slideshow presentation, first posted on the Friends of the White Salmon River website, provides an overview of the company’s assets and operations, and displays “key investment highlights” that underscores the selling points SDS and PWP are using to gauge interest in the sale.
The second slide presents an overview of SDS’ current operations, which highlights the company’s 2020 production capacity for lumber at 59 percent, and for plywood at 78 percent. SDS, according to the slide, has voiced a preference for a combined sale of the sister companies and its assets, but acknowledge that SDS Lumber Co. and Stevenson Land Co. are “available together or standalone.” The slide also offers investors an “opportunity to increase harvest levels.”
On the next slide, the firm lists selling points, which include a “unique opportunity of scale, integrated mill and timberlands opportunity, positive market dynamics, conservative siliculture and forest management history, mature forest inventory with 85 percent over 50 years old, immediate mill production increase potential, potential for significant harvest, ‘higher and better use’ and potential non-core asset sales.”
Columbia Gorge News reached out to SDS President Jeff Webber for comment, who wrote in an email that “we are still early in the sale process and I am not able to share more information or comment on (your) specific questions at this time.”
“Our primary objective here at SDS is to continue supporting our employees, community and our customers,” Webber said. “We’re doing our best to remain focused on the daily operations of our businesses.”
Julian Garratt, executive director at Perella Weinberg Partners, had not responded to a request for comment by press deadline.
Columbia Gorge News previously reported that community groups have concerns about SDS’s plans to sell its assets. CGN reported that the company maintains a higher-than-average harvest rotation, and has in its books a safe harbor agreement with Washington Department of Natural Resources for a habitat of northern spotted owls. In the event of a sale, community groups, such as Friends of the White Salmon River, shared concerns that the impacts will be widespread, from environmental impacts to impacts on the local economy and SDS’ some-200 employees. Pat Arnold, president of the environmental group, commented in a recent post about the announcement of Project Steelhead, saying the sales brochure “makes it absolutely clear that the outcome will be maximum profits for SDS and for investors, at whatever price the rest of us will pay,” pointing out that the brochure hadn’t mentioned any environmental sensitivities.
News of the sale came late last year amid announcements of the company shifting gears. Last September, SDS announced that President Jason Spadaro, who had worked with the company more than 30 years, would be stepping down from his role, replaced with Webber, while continuing to serve as a board member. The company also installed three new board members around this time: Sandy McDade, who brings experience in the industry from Weyerhauser; Bill Brown, former president of Green Diamond Resource Company and chief financial officer of Plum Creek Timber Company; and Clyde Hamstreet, founder of the business consultancy Hamstreet & Associates.