A hundred years ago every urban neighborhood had a brewery, often reflecting the ethnicity of that neighborhood. Over time and with the assistance of the Great Depression it became a brewery per town. Many of these went under during the mass market period of the 1950’s and a few mega breweries then dominated the beer market. But people like variety and the sense of freedom it conveys. So imported beers flooded our shores and gained significant market share. With changes in our alcohol laws, they were countered by flourishing micro breweries. Today, we are returning to the neighborhood or town brew. Some of those objecting to Dollar General have suggested a micro brewery at that location. But Amador County has no special panache for beer or extensive fields of hops or barley. We do, however, have abundant forests in sore need of trimming.
Many have suggested wood products, moving up the value chain from raw lumber, as a part of a successful future. Some envision trinket boutiques in an alpine or rustic Buckhorn town center. But that won’t bring about much economic improvement. Despite not being a hardwood area, I suggest making doors. The door industry today is like the beer industry in the 1960‘s. The recent Great Recession and real estate bust have eliminated most door producers. The remaining two large corporations, Jeld-Wen and Masonite, intend to raise prices because together they now control 80% of the market. In consolidating its 40% market share Masonite alone has closed 50 plants in the last six years. Just like it was once cool to drive a VW bug or want a different beer, small unique door companies are going to spring up across America. We could be among the first with Amadoors known worldwide.
The now idle Pioneer cedar mill site, with high tension lines behind it, sits there asking for activity. It could be a model state of the art facility and also a biomass plant powering itself with other’s waste. If one crew removed both door quality timber and burnable waste timber intrusion into the forest could be minimized and presumably placate a certain attitude within our community.
Copyright 2015, Mark L. Bennett