2013 Lumberman of the Year

Don Dye Sr.

The individual selected for the 2013 Lumberman of the Year Award was born in Santa Cruz, California, the son of a baker. As a young boy, his father moved the family to Ketchikan, Alaska in search of a better opportunity. From his father, he inherited the same spirit of hope and optimism that took them to Alaska, and he carried that positive attitude with him for the rest of his life.

Raised in Alaska, he graduated from Ketchikan High School, before heading off to college in Chicago, IL… but life in the big city was not for him, so in 1965 he enlisted in the army and soon found himself in the middle of the Vietnam War. After two tours of duty in Vietnam he returned home in 1968, with honor and a long list of metals that included two purple hearts; He was always humble about his metals, but always proud to have served his country.

After the service he returned to the Northwest and took a sales job selling Rainbow vacuum cleaners door to door. He discovered that he loved sales and had a personality that people enjoyed and trusted. He once took a pony in trade for a Rainbow Vac…whatever it took to make the sale. In fact, he was such a good salesman, that after meeting his future wife while selling his future mother-in-law a vacuum cleaner, he was eventually able to talk her into letting him marry her daughter. In 1970 they were married and moved back to Ketchikan, where he split his time between working at the family bakery and a local sawmill…

As his family grew, he moved them back to Seattle for a better opportunity and used his accounting degree to get a job at Western Dry-Kilns. But accounting was not who he was. He was a people person and enjoyed working with people much more than with numbers. He motivated people with his strong positive mental attitude. In fact that was one of the many pet phrases he liked to use…”PMA BABY!!” Positive Mental Attitude…he never had an unkind word to say about anyone…negatives were not in his vocabulary. His talents were recognized and he quickly moved into a management position and eventually became plant manager.

A very dedicated man, professional in everything he did, always striving to be better at his craft, he continued to learn and educate himself, adding a business degree and forestry degree to his resume.

His passion for the lumber industry, the joy of selling and his love of being with people was what motivated him and guided him through his career in the lumber industry. From Western Dry Kilns, to North Pacific, Sales manager at Loth Lumber, and later a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Cedar business…along the way, he never burned any bridges, never made any enemies, and always stayed positive. When faced with a tough problem or challenge, he would face it head on with positive resolve and simply say…”No Hill for a climber!”

His successful business life was balanced by a happy personal life. He always made time for his family and friends. He was a life long member of Hoo-Hoo, loved golf, was a devout Washington Huskies fan, and coached both soccer and baseball as his kids went through school. He liked to say…”those who can, play…those who can’t, coach”…but no matter what he did, he brought energy and life to it. He was the life of the party guy, who loved everyone and wanted everyone to be his friend…that’s how he treated people. He was a big guy with a big heart. In fact, he often volunteered to be Santa Claus at the local grade school.

In 1999, he went to work for Mary’s River Lumber, where he found a perfect balance between his passions for both saw milling and selling. After a few years as a sales rep for Mary’s River he was promoted to Sale Manager; his mustache, and the smile behind it, were his trademark. He pioneered the home center business for Mary’s River and grew their sales 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.

You knew he liked you if he gave you a nick-name, and he had a nick-name for everyone…He himself was “The Sheriff”…and the motto he lived by was…”Serve the customer and protect the mill”. He was a friend and ally of the trader and wholesaler, and wanted his customers to be successful. Always willing and eager to share his knowledge and experience with anyone, big customer or small, he treated everyone with respect, and in return, earned everyone’s respect. His word was his bond… he embodied everything that is good about our industry.

Sadly, he passed away this past year while on a sales trip to Canada, doing what he loved.

Those who knew him best described him as a happy man, who was dedicated, proud and loving…He will be missed, but he made our industry a better place, and improved the lives of all he touched.