This month, Hampton Lumber is kicking off 80th Anniversary celebrations across the company.  We’re thrilled to reach this milestone and to mark this achievement, we’re honoring the foundational values that got us here; commitments to people, stewardship, and community.  To celebrate and honor our past we are looking to the future and acting accordingly.  We are commemorating this 80th anniversary by making new investments in education, health, housing, equity, and the environment.

Bud Hampton bought his first sawmill in Willamina, Oregon in 1942 and over the past 80 years we’ve grown to include ten sawmills, 265,000 acres of timberland, several reload facilities, and sales operations in Oregon, British Columbia and Japan. We’ve even ventured into the winemaking business.  The company’s structure and position in the forest products industry was largely established through the vision and hard work of Bud’s son, John. Those of us who knew John, remember him for his foresight, grit, and commitment to community. John established Hampton as an active and respected leader in the forest sector and we have maintained that reputation through the knowledge, professionalism, and passion of our employees and subsequent generations of the Hampton family.

We remain a community-minded business that recognizes our future is tied not only to our own bottom line, but to the health and prosperity of our employees and the communities in which we operate.

Hampton is now ranked among the 10 largest softwood lumber manufacturers in North America, which in itself is something to be proud of.  What’s even more impressive, in my mind, is that while our capacity and reach is global, our approach is about as local as it gets.  We remain a community-minded business that recognizes our future is tied not only to our own bottom line, but to the health and prosperity of our employees and the communities in which we operate.

The hard work and creativity of our workforce has been a driving force in our success over the years. One-third of our employees have been with the company more than 10 years, which I believe speaks to a company culture that values safety, employee development, continuous improvement, and family.  We understand the critical nature of apprenticeships and training programs. Our scholarship for children, spouses, and domestic partners of Hampton employees started in 2018 and has supported 91 students since then. We have long-supported education and career and technical education (CTE) programs but this year we are expanding that support with additional donations, including support for Clatsop Community College’s CTE program and an endowment at Tillamook Bay Community College to provide scholarships for forestry and mechanical industrial technology students.

Our Portland-based Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Team, established in 2020, is dedicated to advancing equality, equity, and anti-discrimination in our company, industry, and community. As change begins from within, we aim to ensure we practice what we preach at Hampton so that everyone feels safe, respected and at home in the workplace. The D&I Team also supports Portland-based organizations such as Girls on the Run, Black Future’s Farm, Self Enhancement Inc (SEI), and Portland YouthBuilders by volunteering time and providing financial support and lumber donations.  

Portland YouthBuilders visit our Willamina sawmill for the unveiling of a donated shuttle van and tool trailer.

In Canada we recently made a $250,000 donation to help establish the Foundry in Burns Lake, BC, which will provide young people with a safe space to find mental-health, wellness and substance-use support.  We have also provided significant lumber donations to a number of important housing efforts, including affordable housing projects in the Willamette Valley and a housing facility for homeless women and children in Portland.  This year, I’m pleased to announce we are starting an exciting partnership with Hacienda Development Corporation in support of their Small Homes NW project. Hacienda is working with moderate-income homeowners to build energy-efficient ADUs in Portland neighborhoods at risk of gentrification.  Hampton will fund construction of a new ADU each year for the next three years—built with Hampton manufactured lumber—to help enhance this pilot program.

While community engagement is critical, we are also investing in ourselves.  The forest sector suffers from a lack of diversity and Hampton is no different. This is particularly apparent in the proportion of women in the sector.  This year, we are setting ambitious targets and examining opportunities to increase gender and racial diversity throughout our company and in positions of leadership. This lack of diversity is not Hampton-specific nor is it easily fixed. We will be investigating and investing in long-term solutions, including efforts to engage women and girls in the trades, awareness building campaigns, mentoring opportunities, and new internal policies and practices that meet the needs of a more diverse workforce. 

We are also embarking on important upgrades at our oldest sawmill in Willamina and opening a brand new sawmill in Fort St. James, BC, which should be operational later this year.  The new, state-of-the-art mill in Fort St. James has been designed to be competitive long into the future and we look forward to working with the community, including local First Nations, to make the facility a success.  In 80 years, one of the most critical lessons we’ve learned as a company is the importance of a sustainable and reliable timber supply.  Over the past few years, Hampton has purchased additional timberland in Washington and Oregon to help ensure a stable supply of fiber for our sawmills. Along similar lines, Hampton was instrumental in moving forward passage of the 2021 Oregon Private Forest Accord, a collaboration between timberland owners and environmental groups to update the state’s forest practice laws and increase protections for aquatic species on private lands. While not without sacrifice, this grand compromise will help ensure long-term certainty for the industry.  In addition, we have and will continue to advocate for smart, sustainable active management of public forestlands in Oregon, Washington, and BC to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and ensure a stable timber supply and revenue steam for rural communities and public services.

As we celebrate this anniversary, I am reminded that we are, and aspire to remain, a company our communities and our employees can be proud of. 

Looking forward, we are acutely aware of the challenges ahead of us, including threats posed by climate change. We are proud of the important role working forests and wood products already play in the fight against climate change by sequestering carbon and creating greener built environments. As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, however, Hampton is embarking on new efforts to track and enhance the inherent sustainability of our lumber by setting ambitious goals for reducing the fuel and energy needed to produce it.

These and other ongoing investments reflect our values as a company and the long-term outlook the Hampton family has maintained and nurtured over the years.  As we celebrate this anniversary, I am reminded that we are, and aspire to remain, a company our communities and our employees can be proud of. 

Steve Zika
Hampton Lumber