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Two big western lumber producers will combine

Bennett Forest Industries and Riley Creek Lumber, two Idaho-based forest product companies, will merge operations to help court larger retail customers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Executives from Bennett Forest Industries and Riley Creek Lumber told the Associated Press that production and delivery demands from large customers, including Home Depot and Lowe’s, made the move imperative in the midst of a lumber slump.

The move will help lead to the eventual expansion of the companies’ 550-person work force at four mills in north central and northern Idaho, according to the report.

Dick Bennett, who will remain on the combined company’s board of directors, told the AP that the move can help gain business from larger retailers, including Home Depot and Lowe’s, because those retailers “don't want to do business with a mill only producing 100 million board feet. We'll have enough volume where we can take on a fairly good contract with them." Bennet Forest Industries currently produces about 185 million board feet annually, while Riley Creek produces about three times that amount.

Bennett also told the wire service that having four mills will offer an additional benefit of helping the companies cut some transportation costs.

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