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On Thursday, July 1, 1971, the ANACORTES AMERICAN published a brief history of how Anacortes Veneer, Inc. (AVI) , began. Mel Holland wrote a comprehensive history of AVI, the worker-owned industry that gave Anacortes "a great shot in the arm" during the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s. A list of the original 270 shareholders including businesses as well as individuals is listed at the end of the article.
Anacortes Veneer began in 1937 as Anacortes Plywood, Inc., a workers cooperative built on the former site of Fidalgo Lumber and Box which had burned about two years before. In 1936, Olympia employees of Washington Veneer decided to organize their own cooperative plywood mill. Their undertaking was representative of the many "cooperative" efforts in the mid-1930s, from farming to lumber mills, which flourished in the midst of the Great Depression. The Olympia group initially chose Port Angeles for their mill site and organized on 1-29-1937 as Port Angeles Plywood, Inc. The following April, however, Port Angeles' lack of support gave the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce an avenue to pursue. Paul Luvera, Chamber of Commerce president, led a delegation to Olympia (Gus Dalstead, Archie Allan, Ed Schwartz and Will Parks) and presented Anacortes as an alternative. The 4-20-1937, ANACORTES AMERICAN reported on "Meeting in Olympia." On May 17, the Olympia group chose Anacortes. The ANACORTES AMERICAN reported on 6-4-1937, that the Supplemental Articles of Incorporation were approved by Secretary of State and the company was officially known as Anacortes Plywood, Inc.
The 8-24-1939, ANACORTES AMERICAN reported, "Veneer Company rushing work on machinery ... Anacortes' newest major industry, the Anacortes Veneer Company which is rapidly nearing completion and readiness to join field of plywood producers locally." In December 1939 the business reorganized under name of Anacortes Veneer Inc. It was a cooperative and employee owned; 250 men initially contributed $1000 per individual. Some of the Brady photos of Anacortes Veneer were taken in 1938 as part of a publicity campaign for the plywood company. An undated newspaper article in the Paul Luvera scrapbook collection states "Plywood Company to Receive Publicity", and goes on to say that Ferd Brady, photographer; Paul Luvera, Chamber of Commerce president; and Art Olson (newspaper reporter) spent time at plant to prepare news releases. A letter from the SEATTLE TIMES to Luvera (Luvera Collection), dated 9-22-1938, stated the photos would run October 10, 1938. Photos also appeared in 9-23-1938, BELLINGHAM HERALD.
WWII proved extremely beneficial to Anacortes Veneer's business and its shareholders/workers as well. This business also played a key role in the transition of the central Whidbey Island economy from farming/agricultural to a wage-based one as farming began dying out there in the 1950s. At that time, several long-time farmers banded together, purchased shares in Anacortes Veneer, and began working there, carpooling the distance from Coupeville to Anacortes each day. Anacortes Veneer sold to Publishers Forest Products Company in 1969. In April 1990 the business closed and the 11-29-1992, ANACORTES AMERICAN reported that old Anacortes Veneer mill had burned down.
|Title||Anacortes Veneer history|
|Caption||brief history of Anacortes Veneer, Inc.|
Anacortes Veneer, Inc.
Industry - Mill - Lumber
Place - Anacortes, WA
Communication - Newspaper
Industry - Mill