Anawalt to take over Malibu Lumber property

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It appeared last week that Anawalt Lumber would buy Malibu Lumber from Weyerhaeuser Co. However, Tuesday afternoon it was reported that Weyerhaeuser would sell its store merchandise, then vacate the property to allow Anawalt to move in.

By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor

The major players are keeping quiet, but several sources familiar with the situation have confirmed that Anawalt Lumber Co. will be taking over the Malibu Lumber property after owner Weyerhaeuser vacates it sometime in the next couple of months. Earlier this week, sources told The Malibu Times that Anawalt Lumber would be purchasing Malibu Lumber, but according to Malibu Lumber employees who said they were given the information by their manager, the deal fell through. Instead, Weyerhaeuser will sell its remaining merchandise, and then close the business sometime in the near future. Then, Anawalt, which owns three other lumberyards, will open a new business on the property, which is owned by Malibu Bay Co.

Local contractors and others involved in the construction business have been paying close attention to the fate of Malibu Lumber. Weyerhaeuser, which also owns Fisher Lumber in Santa Monica, has sold that property to the city of Santa Monica. There were fears that Weyerhaeuser would close Malibu Lumber and nobody would want to bring in a new lumber business because of the reportedly high rent rate charged by Malibu Bay. This would leave the city without a lumberyard.

Anawalt Lumber is a family-owned business based in West Los Angeles that operates three lumberyards in Southern California. The company head, Malibu resident Dave Anawalt, said in a Tuesday telephone interview, “I can not comment further [other] than to tell you Anawalt would very much like to serve the community of Malibu. If there’s more to report, I’ll let you know.”

A call to Weyerhaeuser headquarters in Federal Way, Wash. did not garner any further information. Company spokesperson Kate Tate said, “We have discussed the possible sale of that operation [Malibu Lumber] with employees. But beyond that we have nothing official to announce.”

Rich Lichtenstein from Marathon Communications, a public relations company contracted by Malibu Bay, said, “To the best of my knowledge, nothing has been concluded. We [Malibu Bay] are continuing to explore all the options and alternatives.”

But Malibu Lumber employees said they were told last week by Malibu Lumber manager Erik Jorgensborg that Anawalt Lumber had already made arrangements with Malibu Bay about renting the property and was near finalizing a deal with Weyerhaeuser to purchase the business. The employees said they were further told that severance packages once promised to them were no longer guaranteed. Rather, the employees will be forced to go through an interview process and a drug test with Anawalt Lumber, and if not hired, will be out of luck. Jorgensborg declined to comment for this article. Several employees said they felt a fast one was pulled on them.

“A lot of people feel like they’ve been duped, that we have not been told the truth,” another employee said. “They [Malibu Lumber] led us to believe they were going to give us this money, only to make sure they make money and we won’t leave.”

But with the deal between Weyerhaeuser and Anawalt Lumber falling through, a Malibu Lumber employee said on Tuesday that the employees would get their severance packages as promised. Once Malibu Lumber officially closes, the employees will have an opportunity to interview for jobs with the new Anawalt Lumber business.