Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Piedmont focuses on dealing with Bay Area fire; no word about company's future plans

LAKEPORT – It's too early to tell yet what the impacts of recent lawsuits and foreclosure actions will have on a lumber company with roots in Lake County, according to a company spokesman.


Piedmont Lumber & Mill Co. – which has sites in Lakeport, Calpella, Santa Rosa, Tracy and Pittsburg, and a quarry – is facing several serious legal and financial matters.


On March 1 Umpqua Bank filed a lawsuit seeking judicial foreclosure against the company. The same day, a federal lawsuit was filed against the company over its alleged failure to pay benefits to its union-represented employees, as Lake County News has reported.


Also on March 1, Umpqua Bank filed notices of default against the Lakeport store at 2465 S. Main St., which is a securing property on two loans totaling more than $14.5 million, according to county documents.


All of that bad news was topped off by a fire that burned Piedmont Lumber's Walnut Creek store on March 13. Contra Costa County Fire Protection District investigators completed their examination of the property this week but have not made a determination about the fire's cause, and also continue looking at the cause of a previous fire at the company's Pittsburg location last August.


Piedmont Lumber spokesman James Simmons told Lake County News on Friday that he is assisting the company with responding to inquiries about the Walnut Creek fire primarily.


“That's what we're focused on right now, is how to emerge from the Walnut Creek fire,” he said. “That's where all the attention has been.”


He said the company's managers have been given information about the fire situation which they're free to distribute to staff.


Regarding whether or not the company will rebuild and reopen the Walnut Creek location, “It's way too early to know,” he said, pointing out that the company only took back control of the premises earlier this week.


Simmons didn't have information on the company's plans for addressing the foreclosure actions and lawsuits, also noting it's too early. He also didn't know if the company was talking to its employees about its financial situation or whether store closures could result.


The company currently has about 180 employees across all of its sites, and 45 at its Lakeport store, Simmons said.


There have been recent staffing changes across the company but Simmons didn't have specifics.


Regarding concerns about the future of the Lakeport store, Simmons said that's understandable. “It's a nice store, it's a nice town.”


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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