Idaho Forest Group Acquires Athol Mill

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

Idaho Forest Group is growing following the acquisition of Merritt Brothers Finger Joint Mill in Athol.

The purchase expands the lumber producer’s capabilities into finger-joint manufacturing. According to Erol Deren, IFG vice president of sales and marketing, it’s a great investment for getting the most out of North Idaho timber resources.

IFG’s Kevin Esser and Erol Deren shake hands with Buck Merritt, owner of Merritt Brothers. Courtesy photo.

“This acquisition gives us the opportunity to learn the value-added finger-joint manufacturing process,” he said in a press release. “It will enable further utilization of the fiber resource and complements our other facilities making the most of the logs that we procure for our mills. We will carefully evaluate the capital needs of this site and invest accordingly.”

Merritt Brothers Finger Joint Mill has its origins in the 1968 partnership between Buck and Wayne Merritt on the Merritt Brothers Lumber Company. Originally based in a Priest River sawmill, the brothers later purchased the Athol site and sold the Priest River location.

“We wish IFG a prosperous future,” said Merritt Brothers Vice President Herb Jahnsen in a press release. “We are happy to see the mill continue to move forward and offer employment opportunities to our valued team members. We are thankful for the hard work our employees have put in over the years.”

Idaho Forest Group, formed in 2008 with the merger of Riley Creek Lumber and Bennett Forest Industries, is one of the largest companies in the timber industry, with the capacity to process 1 billion board feet of timber per year.

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