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NewWood sale could be possible, but may require investment by Port

A sale of the mothballed NewWood facility at the Satsop Business Park may be on the horizon again after months of stop and go negotiations between multiple potential buyers. But the potential sale appears to involve much more public funds that previous incarnations of the facility, which has been tried by OfficeMax and Boise Cascade before NewWood and simply never succeeded to find a niche market.

Operating in a 275,000-square-foot facility, the company turned wood waste and recycled plastic into a composite wood. As many as 150 people worked there in 2010.

Exact details of the new arrangement will be made public during a special meeting of the Grays Harbor Port commissioners, set for 9 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 5 at the commissioners’ meeting room in Aberdeen.

NewWood went into a court-appointed receivership last year when the company’s owners simply ran out of money, laying off its entire workforce. Craft 3, which holds the primary bank notes owed by NewWood, filed foreclosure notices against the wood products company in August of last year. Superior Court Judge Mark McCauley appointed Dick Hooper and Pivotal Solutions, Inc. to handle the potential sale of the company and recover as much money for unpaid bills and creditors as possible.

Triventas, a Pittsburgh-based investment company with a private investment firm focusing on green building products, expressed an interest in the company back in June. But then another company emerged as a potential bidder on NewWood and was on track to buying the company, with an asset sale agreement filed with the court back in August.

Judge McCauley had been set to hear arguments involving the sale back in September, when the hearing was canceled in the last hour.

The latest proposal once again involves Triventas, confirmed Alissa Shay, the business manager at Satsop Business Park.

While the Port owns the building and land where NewWood is at, they don’t own the equipment. The equipment was owned by the old NewWood company, which is part of the court-appointed receiver process.

This time, the proposal is for the Port of Grays Harbor to purchase the equipment in NewWood’s building and then to lease it all back to a private company, which would be responsible for marketing and distributing the plastic and wood composite products.

A meeting notice for next Tuesday asks the Port to do three things:

* Authorize Executive Director Gary Nelson to sign an Asset Purchase Agreement with the court-appointed receiver for the purchase of the NewWood Corporation’s Process Equipment and intellectual property currently located at the Satsop Business Park.

* Authorize Nelson to sign the necessary documents for a loan from Craft 3, the original holder of NewWood’s note, in order for the Port to purchase NewWood Corporation’s Process Equipment and intellectual property. Craft 3 is a non-profit community development financial institution located in Ilwaco.

* Authorize Nelson to sign a Letter of Intent with NewWood International, which Shay says is an affiliate of some kind to Triventas. The Letter of Intent includes a lease and a Process Equipment Agreement that will permit NewWood International to conduct due diligence and to commence manufacturing and distribution of plastic and wood composite products at the business park. NewWood International is a new company formed with the intent of manufacturing and marketing the NewWood product. It is not affiliated with the former operator.

Shay said the exact circumstances on what’s being asked is a bit complicated and everything will be explained in detail at the special meeting.

Leasing NewWood could mean an extra $500,000 in revenue to the Port each year and the potential for dozens of jobs at the business park, which just lost another big tenant in BMT Northwest, when they laid off 47 workers in October.

Craft 3 has also been involved in other local business ventures on the Harbor and holds the note on the mothballed Harbor Paper mill in Hoquiam.