A focus on company culture and trust, particularly in regards to acquisitions, runs through the entire forest products industry. Various industry leaders emphasize the importance of understanding a company’s culture and its employees before, during, and after the acquisition process. “We want it to be clear that we are looking out for the best interests of those working at a company,” McLendon said. “All deals have tough spots, and some of them even bring out emotional challenges. If you can develop trust, instead of destroying it when you’re in the deal process, we have found that you can end up getting over those spots. This is true for the deal itself and for the integration process post-closing.”
Brennan also noted the importance of looking for opportunities for people already in place at a company. “It was important for us to be able to provide the talented individuals we acquired with opportunities to grow—both professionally and personally,” he said. Spending time with the workers and within the company can, therefore, allow the incoming company to identify opportunities for somebody to transition into a new role.
It is important to keep looking ahead when responding to the coming wave of consolidation. This is facilitated by the increasingly prominent role of technology within the industry. “As new systems increasingly play a larger and broader role across the business, it becomes easier to spread your people and core infrastructure across the bigger company,” said Lawrence Newton, executive chairman of U.S. Lumber.
Kasper also noted that technology, “when properly implemented, can do a few things, with one of the most important being taking cost out of the equation or spreading the corporate cost over more sales.”
Stock added that developments in technology helped Interfor remain proactive, rather than reactive, during the acquisition process.