Millions owed by timber company
THE communities of Urbenville and Woodenbong have been left reeling after Ford Timbers closed its mill and plant last year leaving nearly $4 million in debt.
Liquidator Korda Mentha has revealed Ford Timbers, which had a processing plant in Woodenbong and mill in Urbenville, owes $3.5 million in unpaid claims from creditors and about $450,000 in unpaid leave entitlements to employees.
Sonia and Bill Hoffman, of Woodenbong, are owed $145,000, for logging work their small business undertook for the company.
Mrs Hoffman said Ford Timbers, which went into liquidation last year, owed money all over town to small businesses, former employees and farmers who supplied the company with timber.
The impact of the collapse had been huge for the communities where the company based its operations.
“We trusted them,” Mrs Hoffman said.
“It has set us back financially about 10 years.”
Mrs Hoffman said she doubted she would ever see a cent of the money owed.
However, worse than the financial ruin, the company has also left behind emotional devastation.
Mrs Hoffman said she knew of a 60-year-old man who had been unable to get out of bed since losing his job at the plant because he felt he had no prospects for employment.
“He’s 60, where is he going to get another job?” Mrs Hoffman asked.
In Urbenville, Scofield’s Transport was also owed money. They transported timber for Fords from Urbenville to Brisbane twice a day.
Co-owner of the business Colleen Scofield would not say how much the company was owed, only that it was a “substantial amount”.
The hard times in the north-west of the region had been made even harder by the closure of the Mt Lindesay Highway for the past four weeks due to slippage from heavy rainfall in January.
The closure of the road has cut both towns off from tourism dollars bought in by Queenslanders visiting at weekends, often for dirt bike riding activities.
“Normally the roads are very busy on the weekends, but now there is no one in town,” Mrs Scofield said.
“All the businesses are affected. It’s very quiet. We are just struggling along.”
Kyogle Council said it expected the Mt Lindesay Highway would be open to traffic within four weeks.