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Inside the Metrie Ferndale facility (November 12, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

Wood products manufacturer celebrates 30 years in Ferndale

FERNDALE, Wash. — Vancouver, BC-based manufacturer, Metrie, is celebrating 30 years at its Ferndale facility. Metrie manufactures and distributes stain grade mouldings, door jambs, handrails and finish lumber.

Metrie is a family-owned business that opened as EL Sauder Lumber Company in 1926 in downtown Vancouver, BC and continues to be owned by the Sauder family according to Metrie Production Manager Tom Soran.

The facility used to have the company name, Sauder, in tall letters on an outside wall of the Ferndale facility which led some to confuse it with a totally unrelated but like-named Sauder Woodworking Co. popular for its ready-to-assemble furniture.

The company has been renamed a couple times over the years. It was renamed Sauder Industries, Moulding and Millwork in 2003 and then Metrie in 2014.

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Metrie Production Manager Tom Soran walks past a stack of recently manufactured moulding pieces at their Ferndale facility (November 12, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

The process to manufacture their products begins when “green” Douglas fir and Pacific Coast hemlock wood is delivered to the Ferndale facility and placed in large kilns where it is slowly dried. The dried wood is then brought into the facility where is is cut into a variety of appropriate sizes while eliminating defects such as knots in the wood.

These pieces are then custom cut using knives on high-speed spinning heads producing hundreds of different profiles of interior moulding and boards that are then ready to ship to the distribution centers and retail locations.

Profile knives mounted in cutting heads hang ready to be used to create a multitude of moulding and board profiles at the Ferndale Metrie facility (November 12, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

Metrie currently operates 4 manufacturing and 25 distribution facilities in the US and Canada with about 1,300 employees and products shipped to distributors and retailers throughout North America, Japan, Korea, and the UK.

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The Ferndale production facility was built and opened in 1990 and the Canadian manufacturing operation moved into it. Additional storage buildings were added in 1992, there was a large expansion of the main building in 1995 and another outside building built in 1997 according to Whatcom County Assessor records.

A load of recently manufactured product is prepared for transport from the Ferndale Metrie facility to any of the distributors and retailers throughout North America, Japan, Korea and the UK. (November 12, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

The facility is currently being expanded again with the addition of 2 more drying kilns that will be bigger than the 2 current kilns.

Of the 120-plus employees at the Ferndale facility, some have been there since it opened in 1990 and many have been there for 20 years or more according to Soran.

Employees recently produced twice the facility’s weekly average lineal feet which will benefit them financially due to the company’s employee profit-sharing program, Soran said.

Metrie also has what Soran referred to as their “Community Impact Program” which is the company’s way of giving back locally. Beneficiaries over past years include the Ferndale Food Bank through company food drives, Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run fundraiser and The United Way.

Ferndale Metrie facility’s 2001 Jingle Bell Run team. Photo courtesy of Metrie

Given limitations on group activities this year due to COVID-19 mandates, employees were asked to determine where best in the community to donate $10,000 put up by the company. It was decided, Soran said, to use the money to provide a cash donation and hold a food drive to benefit the Ferndale Food Bank, provide a cash donation to the Ferndale Family Funds Program and cover the cost of 2 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for the volunteer Whatcom County Search and Rescue Council.

Celebrations of the facility’s 30th anniversary were less than what Soran said he had hoped due to the COVID-19 mandated restrictions but they did get to recognize staff and enjoy some treats. We have had “many friendships, celebrations, relationships, and goodbyes over our 30 years (you wouldn’t believe the number of couples that met on our plant floor),” Soran said in an email.

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