2012 Lumberman of the Year

JV Torgerson

The individual selected for the Lumberman of the Year recognition this year is an Oregon native, born shortly after the end of WWII, and raised in Portland, where he attended Wilson High School. As one of five children, and blessed with natural leadership and teaching abilities, our lumberman of the year headed off to Oregon State University to pursue a career in education. His leadership skills led him to the ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corp, and he went on to Graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Arts, while at the same time being recognized as an ROTC Distinguished Scholar.

After college he married his high school sweetheart, to whom he is still married today… 45 years later. He served in the US Army and started his family while stationed in Germany, where the first of his three sons was born. Eventually he found his way back to the Northwest and settled in Shelton, WA where he became a High School shop teacher and continued to serve his country as an officer in the National Guard.

The needs of his growing family led our lumberman of the year to our industry when a opportunity at Danton-Russell became available. It didn’t take long for his talents to be recognized by others and in 1980 Mick Allen, gave him an opportunity to start up the wholesale division of his forest products company. Six months later, working on commission he found himself in the red…but Mick Allen recognized the honor, integrity, and ability in that determined young man…so he forgave him the debt, and told him not to let it happen again…Our Lumberman of the year went on to make money every month for the next 28 years until he retired in 2008.

Described as a humble, thoughtful, measured man, he built his wholesale business by doing quality work, taking care of both customers and mills, and earning the loyalty of all those around him with whom he did business. He built his business gradually, never compromising his values, never taking on business he didn’t believe in.

This year’s recipient has also been an active member of the PWLA over the years, where he provided a steady, stabilizing, guiding influence… through good times and bad.

Throughout his career, our Lumberman of the Year continued to serve his community and his country through his continued service in the National Guard. The same integrity and values that helped him build his business, also earned him the respect and recognition that saw him climb through the ranks during his 27 years of service. He retired in 1998 as a Brigadier General, heavily decorated with service metals and commendations…

Since retiring in 2008, he has continued to serve his community, as a leader, teacher and mentor. He continues to be very involved in Habitat for Humanity, the Optimist Club, and his church, while serving as Board President of the Quiet Waters Outreach Program.

Before he retired he made the conscious decision to pass his wholesale lumber business on to the next generation. He wanted his customers to continue to be taken care of, and he felt strongly that if he hired young people with integrity and character, he could teach them the rest…a leader, teacher and mentor… he did just that and over the last 4 difficult years, the business he passed on has quadrupled.

I never knew that his first name was James, but I did know that he was well respected… as his son told me, “If I was half the man my father was, I’d be a great man!”