Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Amadoors Ahead?

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                                    


  1. I love your idea about the site. Manufacturing doors there is a no-brainer. All it takes is motivated people with sufficient money and expertise. As you say, our area isn’t big in hardwoods, but the wood could be used for interior doors, etc.

    The two manufacturers you mentioned probably wouldn’t be interested, but there are two others that could be candidates:

    The Marvin Companies had sales in 2013 in the $500 million to $1 billion range, with about 4,000 total employees. They are based in Minnesota but have a facility in Baker City, Oregon.

    Woodgrain Millwork Inc. had 2013 sales in the $300 million to $500 million range with about 5,000 total employees. They are based in Idaho and have a pine door plant in Nampa, ID.
    Based on this from their website, they seem to be open to what you suggest:
    “In its total commitment to the environment, Woodgrain promises to act as a responsible corporate citizen, optimizing our use of resources and producing products that have a positive impact on the environment and the health of people.
    The wood used by Woodgrain primarily originates from sustainable sources. Over 99% of the wood fiber processed by Woodgrain is used as a product. The residuals of the manufacturing process are used for our Nature’s branded products of animal bedding and fuel pellets. Woodgrain recycles every product possible and strives to operate in an environmentally conscious manner.”

    Wouldn’t it be great if either one of them were to find out about this site and its potential?

  2. We have a county Economic Development Corporation for that purpose but they have been dysfunctional as of late and need resurrection. Who’s willing to make that an issue and get it fixed?

    Some excellent research there, but is a more local company possible? What would make Amadoors stand out among competitors? Since this is Northern California perhaps an idoor that starts your coffee maker or something.