Through relationships built over time in the B.C. Wholesale Lumber Association as well as the North American Wholesale Lumber Association, I’ve come to recognize that competitors in our industry can develop valued friendships – even before retirement. When Tom Carlson, longtime respected industry associate and friend announced his retirement this year I was pleased that he accepted my invitation to submit a guest blogpost this week. Tom’s understanding of lumber types was shaped early on in the woods of Vancouver Island. A good guy retires from a successful career in lumber wholesale distribution when he leaves his present post as credit manager at Taiga in December. But before he goes, he tells us:
1950 – With a crash and a shudder as a youngster I was introduced to the forestry business as the spar tree fell onto the general store a few short steps from our shack at the Leechtown lumber mill. Sitting on my mother’s hip I surveyed the damage and dreamed of the chocolate bars inside. My father captured the moment in the rare photo of the day below. It was a life of rides on steam locomotives, fresh venison, coal oil lamps, and visits to the Chinese bunkhouse for lichee fruit amid the smell of opium smoke. It was a simple time on Vancouver Island.
1966 – University of Victoria and smoke of a different kind.
1975 – Ralph S. Plant Ltd. and Widman Industries had joined forces with a new credit manager for Jack Hetherington, Paul Plant, and Charlie Widman.
1986 – Taiga Forest Products Ltd. was spreading its wings and needed a new credit manager for Pat Hamill and Doug Butterworth.
2014 – After 28 years with Taiga (and it may be true I was unable to find any other employment) it is now time for retirement and to let the younger and less experienced have some fun. When I began in business we used carbon paper and dreamed of the promised paperless office; now we have computers and can make bigger and faster mistakes. We sold full carloads of lumber and never dreamed of dealing in truckloads; those cars averaged far less than $8,000 – some as little as $3500 – with the prepaid freight being more than the lumber.
As I enter the next phase of my life I embrace two facts of life:
1. It’s not about what you do, it’s about your right to do it
2. If it’s not fun, go do something else.