What a breath of fresh air. I didn’t misplace my love for lumber, sawmills, and the smell of sawdust: It just seems like for the last six years we have been getting nothing but bad news. The daily grind has been all about not enough logs, radical environmental lawsuits, a poor economy with zip for housing starts, dismal lumber prices and sawmill curtailments. It’s been easy to be discouraged and to recognize that our industry might not appeal to the younger generation.

But we’re back! A new report commissioned by Oregon Forest Resource Institute OFRI entitled Poised to Rebound – 2012 Forest Report Rebound features compelling evidence about the importance of the forest products industry to our economy. The Executive Summary is an easy read and snapshots the many facets of the industry in Oregon.

We need younger women and men to consider a career in the forest products sector. Right now it is very difficult to find qualified candidates, in particular for industry millwrights and electricians. We need people to work in the woods: foresters and loggers. The recession really took out our transportation infrastructure, so we need truck drivers to move raw and finished materials. There are opportunities for marketing our products, in direct sales and in developing and designing marketing campaigns that tout all the good things about wood.

In Tillamook, we participate in a joint curriculum effort with Stimson Lumber, the Tillamook Creamery, and Port of Tillamook Bay Community College to offer young people training to prepare them for millwright and electrician careers – focused industrial apprenticeships rather than four-year college commitments. Other programs like this are taking hold in rural areas to attract young people who want to go to work right after high school, but want secure family-wage paying jobs. Our industry can give them that.

On our home front, the College of Forestry at OSU is recognized nationally for its programs to help the forest sector and deliver qualified young people to waiting job opportunities.

Employing other family members has been successful for us. The daughters and sons of people already employed in the forest sector have “sawdust in their veins” as an inherited trait that may be lying dormant. Do you know a young person looking for their niche who already has family in the industry? Give them a nudge… it’s a great industry to work in. Check out our job openings at Hampton Lumber Careers | Facebook.

Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the better lumber market for a few moments before we go back to worrying about where the logs will come from.

Steve Zika
CEO, Hampton Lumber