Business Operations

The Wonder of Lumber

When reflecting on lessons learned from the pandemic, there were a number of angles I could take for this article. How did our company react in the initial months of the pandemic? How has remote work affected our team culture? What are we doing to navigate the resulting rise in lumber prices and supply constraints?

A Special Series from NAWLA

When reflecting on lessons learned from the pandemic, there were a number of angles I could take for this article. How did our company react in the initial months of the pandemic? How has remote work affected our team culture? What are we doing to navigate the resulting rise in lumber prices and supply constraints?

But we’re all living that daily and there are only so many lumber memes I can handle in a year. So instead, I decided to write about a 10-year-old boy who exemplifies what I think is the most important lesson from the pandemic.

I am extremely passionate about the lumber industry, and just as passionate about recruiting the next generation into this business we all love. A recent experience at work underscored this passion, and reminded me of just how exciting our careers can be. A co-worker’s son—let’s call him Tyler—was assigned a school project focused on the state of California and its history. With the support of his dad, who works in Capital’s Southern California location, he chose to focus his project on forest management and the history of the redwoods.

They woke up early and visited one of our suppliers in Northern California and watched a logger cut down a tree. His father filmed the experience and captured the look on Tyler’s face when he saw the tree come down—a moment of pure joy, excitement and wonder.

That evening, they came over to our house for dinner, along with our coworkers, and we had a great time talking about the fun they had that day. In the midst of him playing tag with my son, I asked what he liked most about the day and he replied simply: “I didn’t know my dad worked at such a cool place.” In his little 10-year-old way, he was saying he was proud of his dad. My small heart grew three sizes that day!

What does this say about our industry? First, there’s a reason why he reacted the way he did. The lumber industry is fun, exciting and sustainable—I’ll say it over and over again. Second, the whole experience—from Tyler joining his father at our supplier’s forest to our colleagues joining us for dinner—highlights how we view each other: as one big family.

All of these things are important to younger generations as they choose where to start their careers. Now is the time to seize the moment and build your best teams. So what is NAWLA doing to encourage them to choose lumber?

  • First, our Young Emerging Lumber Professionals (YELP) program is designed to engage lumber professionals under 40 by connecting them with a cohort of their peers to get tailored education and networking time. It’s a great way to mentor our up-and-coming leaders.
  • Our Many branches. One industry. campaign is spreading the word about the benefits of working in lumber – and, importantly, debunking myths about the sustainability of the forestry and lumber industry, showing how forestry and lumber jobs are green jobs.
  • Our Wonder of Lumber campaign encouraged kids to create something new out of wood—and got the younger generation thinking about the versatility and necessity of lumber.

These are just some of the ways we’re doing our part to recruit the next generation of lumber leaders. What are you doing at your company to hire the next Tyler?

Bethany Doss

Bethany Doss is business manager of Capital Lumber, Healdsburg, Ca. (capital-lumber.com), and chair of the North American Wholesale Lumber Association.

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