2017 Lumberman of the Year

Dave Halsey

Dave Halsey is a rare individual who was born with that lumber gene in his DNA, and who always knew that he wanted to work in the lumber industry. Maybe it was that his father worked in forestry, or that his grandfather, who he loved and admired, was a lumber wholesaler, but as soon as he was old enough to chart his own course, he set his sights on becoming a lumberman, and headed down that path.

As a boy growing up in Northern California, he discovered his passion for books and learning, which has served him well for the rest of his career, and filled his mind with ideas and goals and dreams waiting to be realized.

He knew he wanted to work in the lumber industry… but in order to get there, the next stop on his journey was Oregon State University and a business degree. While there he got more than he bargained for, and fell in love to his future wife, and eventually started a family, and moved to Portland.

In Portland, he spent a lot of time with his grandfather, Bill MacPherson, who was a mentor to him, and from whose Scottish ancestry he undoubtedly inherited his stubborn discipline, determination and self-reliance.

Dave learned to set goals for himself, make a plan to reach those goals, be organized enough to execute the plan and then have the self-discipline and determination to see it through to completion; Skills that prepared him for success in our industry. After college he took those skills and with some help from his grandfather, got a job working at a Portland wholesale distribution company started by an old Italian back in the 50’s. He was a self-starter, highly organized, full of ideas, passionate about everything he did, and determined to make his mark in the lumber industry. After all, this is what he always wanted to do… he quickly became he rising star.

Think of him this way. He was the chess player who was always 3-4 moves ahead of the guy sitting on the other side of the board. He was blessed with good intuition, an innate business sense, and worked efficiently at reaching his goals. As a young wholesaler he was not content to maintain the status quo…he searched out new markets and developed new business where previously there was none; a creative problem solver, who always looked at things a little differently than most. When he had a program or idea that didn’t work out as planned, he was always quick to move on, forget about it and move on to the next one…but he had the Midas touch most of the time. He is brutally honest. Direct to a fault, but you always know where you stand with him. On occasion, you may not want to hear what he’s got to say, but you know that he’s thought four moves ahead and is probably correct in his assessment. If he’s made up his mind, forget about convincing him otherwise.

By 1997 he had become one of the top salesmen at the company, he had developed new markets in Sun Valley, Jackson Hole and the San Francisco Bay area, and built a network of loyal customers. He was also strong willed, confident, and didn’t always agree with management. Young, aggressive, and not yet politically savvy, he pushed things a little too far… he loved books, and he loved to share them with others, but when he gave the president of the company a book titled, “How to fire your boss”… one chapter ended and another was about to begin. While the experience was difficult for him, he learned from it and as he always has, quickly moved on. He went to work for a cross town rival wholesale company, where he re-set his goals and rebuilt his business. One of his customers recalled hearing the news of his move and thinking “He’ll be running that company in a few years”.

Dave is one of those rare guys that can simplify what seems difficult to most others. As he’s been known to say… “It ain’t that hard, you buy wood and you sell wood.” For his customers, he makes it easy, for his business partners he makes it simple, and as a manager he shares his vision and provides clear sightlines for how to get it done.

His word is golden and his handshake is as good as a contract. One of his business partners recalled a handshake on a golf course that sealed the deal on helping to start a new venture…that was the year 2000 and that business is still thriving today, started with a handshake.

As you might expect, he quickly moved up in the company, became a board member, owner and eventually President. He was the right man at the right time and helped lead the company through difficult years. His vision, motivation and clear communication of the common goals were instrumental in the companies continued success.

Dave has also shared his time and knowledge with the next generation; First by coaching his 3 boys in basketball, through their grade school and high school years, then more recently volunteering his time to mentor business students at OSU; sharing his knowledge, books and resources. He has also recognized the value of bringing young people with fresh ideas and skills into the industry. The future of his company depends on having the next generation of leaders and owners in place and he had the foresight to get that done.

Patrick Lumber, the company he is so proud of, celebrated their 100th year anniversary in 2015, at the time he was president. With his fore sight he went to work on publishing a book about their history three years before the anniversary, and well before he was President. This was no small undertaking and just like him, the book “ is brutally honest”.

He likes people, and they like him. My wife calls him charming. Those who have left his company say what they miss most is working with him. His honesty and integrity are the foundation upon which he built his career, and his Grandfather Bill MacPherson would be proud….