Our 2014 Lumberman of the Year Award is a native
Oregonian, born in Baker City. The son of a hard
working logger, his father moved the family to Bates,
Oregon when he was three years old, and went to
work for Edward Hines Lumber Co. He grew up in a
small, company owned, mill town, where his father
instilled in him a deep rooted work ethic that he
would carry with him the rest of his life.
Growing up in Eastern Oregon, he learned to love the
outdoors and things all boys growing up there
love….hunting, fishing and shooting squirrels were a
natural part of life in a small mill town. When hunting
with his dad, if he started complaining about the long
hike, his father would tell him, “you’re the only one
that will get you back to the truck!” His father taught
him discipline and self-reliance that would later serve
He spent his school years living a half a mile from the
saw mill. He didn’t realize it then, but saw dust found
its way into his veins. He took the bus 45 minutes to
Prairie City High School each day where in addition to
being a good student, he was a 3 sport Varsity Athlete,
and worked at the mill in the summers while going to
After high school he attended the University of
Oregon, with his summers spent working in the woods
at Edward Hines as a timber faller, and on the fire
crew. His old Stihl Chainsaw still hangs in his garage
today, as a reminder of where he came from. Those
were his roots, and they were deep.
Originally he had plans to become a doctor, but after a
rough term, that probably included a little too much
social life, he adjusted his goals to focus on dentistry…
but in the end, he was happy to graduate in 1973 with
a degree in Business and Marketing instead.
His time at the U of O was not wasted, because in
addition to his degree, he left with a beautiful bride
who is still by his side today… the mother of his three
boys. His boys were all named after places in eastern
Oregon that he loved and calls home… Jordan Valley,
Mitchell Oregon and Grant County. He was taught to
live your life so that that you are never afraid to go
back to where you came from.
After college he got a job selling shakes and shingles,
which led him to International Paper and eventually
in 1977 to his present company. He was hired by one
of our past Lumbermen of the Year, who mentored
him and saw in him the qualities he knew would make
He started as assistant mill sales manager, and could
always outwork anyone, so he steadily moved up
through the organization. Wholesale Sales
representative, General Sales Manager, Vice President,
and eventually President and Chief Operating Officer.
And how did he accomplish all this? Well, for one
thing, by working harder than everyone else. He is the
first one in every morning, and the one who turns off
the lights at night. But he does it all with energy,
enthusiasm,` and a positive can do attitude that is
contagious and helps empower those around him…
He’s a leader that people want to follow.
Passionate about the lumber business and the
company he represents, he is never satisfied with the
status quo… there is always a better way, a new idea,
another opportunity…he is an idea guy, but he also has
the drive and determination to see those ideas
through and make them become reality… he leads by
example and his fingerprints can be found on each of
the pieces of the business he has helped to grow and
develop over the years.
As hard as he works, and as busy as he is, his door is
always open, and he will always make time to listen to
your ideas and challenges, usually while he lets his
own wait. He knows that you don’t need a pat on the
back when things are going great, but will be there for
you with a pat on the back and encouragement when
you are having a bad day.
I’m told occasionally he will also help you identify a
“PGO”. A “PGO” is a personal growth opportunity… which
basically means you screwed up, and you need to find
a way to fix it.
A mentor to many, and a player-coach who is smart
enough to know when to get out of the way… A leader
who has the gift of facilitating…he knows how to help
others reach their full potential.
He is passionate about his family, his company and the
great outdoors. Those who know him best describe
him as fiercely loyal, generous and understanding. A
man who would do anything for his friends and
family… always the first one there to help. He has a
search and rescue mentality, that if you are stuck in
the snow or your car needs a jump…he’ll be the first
one there to roll up his sleeves and help.
There’s also the side that most don’t see…Quietly
behind the scenes with an open wallet or a silent
check, he has personally helped a long list of people
who are forever grateful for his generosity. If he
weren’t a CEO of a company he’d be Santa Clause. He
loves children and is a strong financial supporter of
Trillium Family Services, the Oregon Food Bank and
the Oregon Wildlife Foundation.
He works too much to be a good golfer, but his love of
the outdoors has manifested itself in some recent land
purchases in Eastern Oregon, and he has been teased
about becoming a land baron… who buys barren land.
He calls his ranch the Rock Pile, and his wife calls it
the money pit… but it’s the place he loves to go to hunt
and fish and get back to his roots. He has lived his life,
with integrity and honor and the basic solid values he
has passed on to others…like his father taught him, he
has lived his life so that he can always go home.
In addition to the contributions made to his company
and his community, he has also served our industry
with his vision and leadership as a past Chairman of
NAWLA, The Western Wood Products Association, the
Wood Products Promotion Council and the Timber
Products Inspection Board of Advisors…
This Year’s Lumberman of the Year has worked in the
forest products industry for over 4o years and as hard
as I tried to dig up some good dirt on him, I couldn’t
find anyone who had a bad thing to say about him
He hasn’t burned any bridges and is respected and
admired by all who have had a chance to work with
him, even though they couldn’t keep up.
Back in 1977 Gordon King made one of his best
decisions when he decided to hire him to work at
Hampton Lumber. That was the beginning of a great
relationship and friendship that helped turn a good
company into a great one.
He’s one of those people that everyone is proud to
know, and this year we are proud to call… Mr. Mike
Phillips … our PWLA Lumberman of the Year!