When I accepted my dad’s offer in 1975 to join the team at Western Wood Structures, I did not envision a future career that would span 44 continuous years of service at the same company. But it happened.
Today is my last day on the job and I am leaving with a lot of mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is hard to let go because I have enjoyed my work so much. On the other hand, I would like to travel and spend more time with my family. Retirement is the only answer.
I have a lot of self-satisfaction knowing that I have contributed to the building of a unique and capable company in the Engineered Wood Products industry. I am very proud to have seen the growth here and to have been part of many of the complex and well-known projects we have been a part of this past 44 years. The impressive thing to me is that our small company has tackled so many large-scale and complex projects and succeeded every time. We have never failed to do what we committed to do.
I was here when WWS built the Sky Dome in Flagstaff, Arizona. We were operating out of a small office in NE Portland and had fewer than 10 full time employees. My dad laid everything on the line to get a payment and performance bond for the $2 million-dollar project and we completed our work just before the snow started falling. This dome was followed by several others, two of which were larger in span than Flagstaff – The Tacoma Dome and The Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University.
Other significant projects in recent years include the Christ The Light Cathedral in Oakland, CA., the Anaheim Ice Arena, and two very large Heavy Timber storage buildings at Terminal 5 in North Portland. Our bridge department has sold at least 5,000 timber bridges during these years. Our field crews have installed many acres of timber roof systems. Our commercial sales team has shipped Glulam products to jobsites in Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, Florida, and many places in between. We have exported projects to Japan, China, Taiwan, and throughout the Caribbean. We have completed at least $20 million worth of timber repair work in recent years, mostly post tensioning of overstressed beams and Bowstring trusses. We have earned our reputation as the “go to” company when it comes to complex engineered timber systems because we have all the components it takes to be successful: engineering, sales knowledge, in-house fabrication, and installation services.
Western Wood has been successful because of its dedicated employees. Forty–five percent of our current full-time employees have worked here more than 20 years, at least seven of us for more than 30 years, and two of us have been here for 40 + years. To me this is remarkable, especially in today’s employment climate when people seem to change jobs every few years. This is a clear sign that we are doing something right and I am proud of this.
As rewarding as this has been for me, it is time to step aside and turn the reigns of the company over to a new ownership group comprised of current employees. Paul Gilham, our Chief Engineer, will lead this new team as President. He is a highly trusted and respected professional timber engineer (and person). His team will include Mike Dyer who has 30 + year of experience in engineered wood sales and construction management; Brent Matthias, a most capable young engineer in his own right with 22 years of service to WWS; Hazen Hyland who has been selling timber bridges and handling our export projects here for 13 years; and Jim Stein, our senior draftsman who has served us well for 30 years. I have confidence that this group will continue to successfully operate and grow the company.
It has been a fun ride. Heartfelt thanks to every employee, past and present, who has helped to make this company successful, unique, and most of all a fun place to work.