Signing Off…

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.


Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program

The Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program (SRGP) is a State of Oregon competitive grant program that provides funding for the seismic rehabilitation of critical public buildings, particularly public schools and emergency services facilities. The purpose is to reduce losses in the case of a major seismic event in the future.

Rehabilitation means that these buildings be retrofitted to Life Safety and emergency services to immediate occupancy standards as defined by ASCE. All Public K-12 school districts in Oregon are eligible for this grant program as well as certain emergency services facilities, particularly first responder buildings. School gymnasiums, cafeterias, and MP rooms are of high priority because they could potentially be used as emergency shelters in disasters.

Many of our schools were built during and prior to the 1960s. This means that many of the critical main carrying members built from wood are overstressed and do not meet current code requirements. These could be Glulam beams or in many cases Bowstring Trusses.

Western Wood Structures has been involved in at least 28 public schools during the past three years as a design-build specialty subcontractor. We often get hired to inspect the timber members in one of these grant buildings. Following our inspection, we provide our clients with structural analysis of the members and a report outlining any structural issues. We then offer recommendations for necessary structural repairs and strengthening (code upgrades).

Below are examples of schools we have been involved with:

Grant HS 1    

 Grant HS 2

Grant Union High School – John Day, Oregon

The main Glulam Beams in this gymnasium span 110’ and are nearly 6-feet in depth. They had developed “splits” over the years from insufficient bearing. WWS installed fully threaded lag bolts in the beams to repair the splits and to restore the shear capacity. WWS also post tensioned the beams to increase their carrying capacity to meet current code requirements. Finally, horizontal “wind trusses” were installed in the end bays.

Tillamook High School – Tillamook, Oregon

WWS repaired the 100-foot long Bowstring Trusses in this gymnasium by removing and replacing broken members. The trusses were brought up to current code requirements by 1) adding a post tensioning system to the lower chords; 2) by stiffening web members; and 3) by installing clamping mechanisms to fully support all unsupported top chord soffit cuts at the truss bearings.


Baker High School – Baker City, Oregon

WWS installed a post tensioning system to the lower chords of these trusses to increase their carrying capacity.

Gold Beach High School – Gold Beach, Oregon

The 92-foot long Bowstring Trusses were brought up to current code by adding stiffeners to the top chords and by installing a post tensioning system to the lower chords.

Lewis & Clark College Walking Bridge

Lewis & Clark College is a small college located in SW Portland, Oregon. The college began working with Minarik Architecture, Inc. in 2017 to replace an aging 6-span bridge that connected the Howard Hall area on the south side of the campus to the Reflecting Pool and Rose Garden scenic […] Read more »

A Year in Review…

Nearly three years have passed since my last blog posting. The truth is we’ve been swamped here at Western Wood Structures but I’m not too busy to make mention of three WWS projects that won awards in 2018. Western Wood Structures recently completed construction of a Glulam building in Portland, Oregon, […] Read more »

Brentwood Country Club

Located in a residential area of west Los Angeles and just minutes from the Pacific Ocean, the Brentwood Country Club is home to a challenging 18-hole golf course. When the course superintendent determined that new bridges were needed to cross some ravines, their architect contacted Western Wood Structures.  WWS presented […] Read more »

George Fox University Bridge

Located within a 15 minute drive of our facility, George Fox University is one of the top ranked Christian universities in the country. Their outstanding reputation for academics and athletic success is well known in this area. The result is record growth and an enrollment that is approaching 4,000 students. […] Read more »

Hamlin Farms

              When the owners of this century old farm in Corvallis, Oregon, decided they needed a shady place to relax after long days harvesting crops, they called the experts at Western Wood Structures. The result was this handsome Glulam patio cover that rises above […] Read more »

Backyard Patio Cover

When the owners of this residence in Tualatin, Oregon decided to remodel their home, their contractor turned to the experts at Western Wood Structures for assistance with the roof system above their backyard patio. The result was this handsome structure which features Glulam trusses with curved top chords.     […] Read more »

Fort Belvoir Suspension Bridge

Accotink Wildlife Refuge is a 1,200 acre property located on the grounds of Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia. Fort Belvoir was originally opened during WWI and is the largest employer in Fairfax County with more employees than even the Pentagon. Over the years it has served as headquarters for […] Read more »

Peaked and Cambered Glulams

Building designers are offered creative ways in which to utilize Glulam in the construction of their buildings. Glulams have been popular over the years because of their versatility in timber construction and because of their aesthetic appeal. The use of Peaked and Cambered Glulams (also known as Pitched and Tapered) […] Read more »