June 13, 2001 11:00 pm
LOGS FOR HOMES: Blue Mountain Log Homes turns out logs like these for a variety of kits which are shipped all over the West. (Observer photo/RAY LINKER).
LOGS FOR HOMES: Blue Mountain Log Homes turns out logs like these for a variety of kits which are shipped all over the West. (Observer photo/RAY LINKER).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

ELGIN An Elgin firm is trying to corner the Northwest market for its product milled logs for home construction kits.

The 12-year-old company, Blue Mountain Log Homes Inc., broke ground last week for construction of an 80-by-100-foot all-steel production building on its 14-acre site on Highway 204 just west of Elgin.

Were going to add two more lathes that will enable us to turn out logs 24 inches in diameter and 50 feet long, said general manager John Owen. The lathe on site now produces logs up to 20 inches in diameter and 35 feet long, he said.

With these additional lathes, well take a big market share, Owen said.

The company produces custom-designed log home kits, which are shipped to the purchasers. Buyers range from a man and wife who will put it up or a contractor erecting the structure for the owners, Owen said.

The company has dealers in several western cities, including Boise, Portland, and Florence, Mont., and will add one in Spokane, Owen said.

While only huge trenches where the foundations will be poured were evident, Owen said the building should be up by the end of summer.

Financing for the expansion of buildings and equipment is being added courtesy of a $50,000 grant from the Northeast Oregon Alliance and a loan through Community Bank.

Owen said the company would add an older lathe and would build another one, which would make the firm more diversified. The older one can turn out D-logs, which look like the letter D with one flat side, Owen said.

The new lathes will increase that part of our business dealing with making the large accent logs used in huge lodges and resorts, Owen said.

Such logs are at least 20 inches in diameter by 34 feet long, he said.

Well be one of the few firms in the West that can do logs this size, said Owen.

Their raw products come largely from private landowners. In the yard now is timber from areas ranging from Heppner to Imnaha. Occasionally, they get logs from Canada, he said.

Customers are from a wide area, too, Owen said, listing Idaho, Colorado and Arizona as some out-of-state locations, in addition to Oregon sites.

We just bid on a 14,000-square-foot, $2 million trophy home in Eugene and are working up a bid now for a 14,000-square-foot house in Lake Tahoe. And we have bid on a hunting lodge in Pilot Rock.

However, their typical structure is a home of about 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, Owen said, adding, We do any size building from a one-room hunting cabin on up.

Their market is everything west of the Rocky Mountains, Owen said, calling to mind only one company in Montana that turns out a similar product.

Blue Mountain Log Homes was started in 1989 by Wayne Neitch, who taught his son, also named Wayne, the business. The elder Neitch died in 1994.

Owen has been general manager for about a year, he said.

Neitch said the company produced a single home kit the first year, three the next and who knows how many after that.

Owen said, Well do 20 this year.

The company now has seven full-time workers.

Well be up to 13 in a couple of years, Owen said.

He will move to Sweet Home by the fall, he said, putting an office there where the company will market the product in the Willamette Valley. He has several prospective customers lined up already, he said.

The company also turns out what it calls an RV park model of less than 400 square feet and made of 6-inch round logs. Selling for about $30,000, it can be used as a hunting cabin, put in places where the terrain would make it difficult to construct a building. Some are used as offices or recreation rooms, Owen said. The interior can have different floor plans.