cigar industry, and consequently ourselves. There were fewer cigars, and more cardboard in boxes.
The great depression had now hit us. Cigar manufacturers were insistent on lower box prices from the "boxmakers" (i.e. our customers) and they in turn were pleading for lower lumber prices. Poplar logs had become very high-priced, and the idea occurred to my father that possibly we could locate a mill in the West and use the trim-ends which were waste in those great mills for the manufacture of cigar box lumber. My father and the Superintendent of the Johnson City Mill made an exploratory trip to the West Coast, and later employed one Harold S. Turlay to make a full investigation. He shipped a few spruce logs to Johnson City for a try-out on our slicing machines to demonstrate its suitability for cigar box lumber. The size of those logs up to 7 or 8 feet in diameter, was a revelation to the good citizens of Johnson City, and they flocked to our Railroad siding to see them. We manufactured them into lumber and secretly sent sample lots to selected customers for them to try out. We, of course, did not wish it to become generally known that we had any thought of changing from Poplar. The reports, though not enthusiastic, were good, and the fact that this Spruce lumber could be produced at lower cost than Poplar lumber, caused our customer-friends to encourage us to make the change.
Accordingly in the Spring of 1933 the Superintendent, Mr. Spencer, from Johnson City and I made a trip to the Coast, and with Mr. Turlay visited several Plants which had been closed by the depression and were available on exceedingly favorable terms. We settled upon Astoria, Oregon, where we found a building well suited to our needs and with both rail and water transportation at our door.
Mr. Spencer laid out a floor plan for the location of our machines and returned East to begin dismantling the Plant. In the meantime, Mr. Turlay would carry out the required construction and have everything in readiness when the machinery arrived. After Mr. Spencer's departure Mr. Turlay and I spent a couple of weeks investigating timber, discussing costs and an infinite variety of details involved in such a (for us) momentous move. We (the Uptegroves) were risking our capital on a venture that involved (1) the introduction of an entirely new wood for cigar boxes (2) moving into a territory in which cigar box lumber was a totally new product, and for which there was not a single trained worker (3) doing this in the very depth of the greatest depression of all time.
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